Halloween After Divorce

Tracy, as a crayon, circa 1984

Tracy, as a crayon, circa 1984

Halloween is huge. Ask any elementary school teacher, and s/he will tell you that the kids get more excited over Halloween than any other holiday. My kids start planning their next Halloween costumes in November. Parents everywhere start laying down the rules in September about last-minute costume changes, and we spend various weekends in October attending school fall festivals, trekking to the fake pumpkin patches, and explaining over and over that, no, you cannot wear your costume to school today.


My Childhood Halloween

Growing up, Halloween was always a bifurcated event between my parents. My mom did all the prep work; she made all of our costumes, including the above crayon costume. (Thanks, Mom!) But, the actual Halloween Day, was all Dad’s affair. Dad was in charge of taking my sister and me trick-or-treating. We always made sure to wait until after dark (daylight savings time used to come earlier!). Our first stop was always to my neighbor Sally’s. She always made popcorn balls, and she always ran out. (An aside, popcorn balls don’t actually taste that good, but they were a novelty treat and therefore, highly coveted). Then, my dad would haul us around the rest of our very small country town to hit up all the regular neighbors.

While my dad was out with us, my mom would stay home and wait for the 2-3 trick-or-treaters that would make the trek to our remote house. I don’t know what she did the rest of the evening, but I imagine she enjoyed the quiet and the time alone. I know that I do when I send my husband out with our kids to trick or treat each year.

Before and After Divorce

Halloween before your divorce was easy. Everyone slipped naturally into a role. But after a divorce, everything you used to do is out the window. The kids want to have fun, but there’s a lot of opportunity for tension between their divorced parents. Who helps pick out the Halloween costume? Who takes the kids trick-or-treating? Mom now resents the time Dad spends watching the kids knock on strangers’ doors, and Dad thinks he should get some say in the costume decision-making.

You got this.

Slow down. Take a deep breath. You’re only going to get to do Halloween like this a few more years. Don’t sweat it, and don’t let your anger spoil it for the kids. There’s enough Halloween for all of you. Try these tips:

  1. Try to (politely) discuss Halloween scheduling with your ex in September. Don’t wait until the last minute to try and squeeze in the trunk-or-treat at daycare.

  2. Remember, there’s always next year. You won’t win every time.

  3. Buy full-size candy bars. At least your neighbors’ kids will love you.

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