Single dads should listen clearly to what their children want to do on Halloween. This does not mean “making them choose.” It means paying attention to the child’s comfort level and enthusiasm. Then make plans . Some things to keep in mind:
- The child should be allowed to trick-or-treat with friends in his familiar surroundings. If extended family members want to see the child dressed up, they should come to where the child is, rather than dragging the child around and taking him/her away from his/her peers.
- It can be a positive experience if both parents can be involved with the process. One parent takes the child out and then other stays back at the house giving out candy. Unlike other scenarios, this one will not give children the false hope of the parents reuniting. Rather it says to the child, my parents can “rally” beyond their problems to do what is best for me. (If you are a high conflict couple skip this step- Maybe next year…)
- Limit candy intake. This is always important at Halloween, as kids are already pretty wired. This is especially so in a newly-separated/divorced family where there may be added stress or tension. Two homes does not mean two times the candy!
- Picture taking is important. When possible the child should have photos with each parent separately, again reinforcing the fact that while the parents are no longer a couple, they are both still involved with the child.
- If the preparation/purchase of costume becomes an issue, let the parent who was responsible for costumes in the past make the decision/purchase this year. Next year you can begin to alternate that responsibility.
In the future, as the child becomes more comfortable in his new home and has made connections with children in that neighborhood, trick-or-treating can be alternated. There may be possibilities of trick-or-treating in both neighborhoods as the child gets older and if the neighborhoods are close or if the holiday falls on the weekend. Remember this is the child’s holiday. Your goal is to make this day a joyous experience rich in fun memories. Make it all about the child! The adults have plenty of other holidays to enjoy. This one belongs to the child.