The month of October marks the beginning of family holidays for the next three months. If you are a newly divorced parent, the next 120 days is going to test your patience and communication skills with your ex-spouse. Have no fear, because SingleDad is here to offer a few friendly reminders on the new rules of Co-Parenting. This blog is going to address Halloween and how important it is to establish a good relationship with your child and ex-spouse during this holiday.
If you have children 12 and under, they are most likely attending a elementary school. This means that there will be a lot of planned Halloween activities during and after school that your child will be attending. If you are in a joint custody schedule, the key here is to over communicate any upcoming school functions and emails that you receive from the teacher. There is nothing more embarrassing for your child than when he or she goes to class empty handed, especially when the classroom has a planned activity. You only need to experience this feeling once to know what I am talking about. A great way to remind your ex-spouse is to be proactive. Send an email, voice mail or have face-to-face communication to let each other know how important it is not to let your child feel different about having two households. Too many times, the backpack is not checked for fliers from school. Keep an eye on what your child brings home starting with this holiday.
Not that costume!
We have all seen how the Halloween costume Industry has gone from innocent to indecent. As a Dad with two daughters, all I can say is that I am doing everything I can to slow every clock in my house and I am not prepared for my daughters to look sexy or slutty. It's not cute to see some pre-teen dressed up as a "Naughty Nurse," and believe me, I have seen this happen at my youngest daughter's school. Most schools these days have enforced dress codes and some have even banned dressing up all together on Halloween. Schools have nixed the traditional costume march because of the nature of some of the costumes -- some are too violent or too provocative. As a co-parent, both parents need to unite and be good examples of what is acceptable. It's not going to be too cool if Dad is dresses up as a "Pimp Daddy" in front of his daughter and and has to explain that the costume is more "gangster than pimp." Don't do this; it just doesn't work.
Splitting time trick or treating
Most divorce decrees do not address the custody schedule on Halloween, so it is up to the parents to decide what is best. My best advice is to always keep the child's best interest in mind. Now, I am not saying, let the child run the show, but what I am saying is to make sure you have a pre-determined agreement between both households and ex-spouses. If you child wants to trick or treat with neighbors and familiar faces, by all means make that a priority. If one ex-spouse is residing in that neighborhood, make it a point to stay classy and offer both parents the opportunity to walk with your child together or separately. On my SingleDad Coaching calls, I have seen both parents split times and take their children through the neighborhood with positive results. Your child will thank you in the long run (kids remember everything). If you are sharing the experience together, it goes without saying (but I am going to say it anyways), don't bring a boyfriend or girlfriend, and don't talk about money and unresolved disagreements.
Look at that number above and think about it for a moment. 182 days is all the time you get to spend with your child under a joint custody schedule in one year. That means you only get to see so many birthdays and holidays together with your child. You need to take advantage of this time and make your memories count. The best way to stretch a few more precious days on your joint custody calendar is to create a positive and amicable relationship with your ex-spouse. A great co-parenting relationship will make this holiday season better for everyone.
Happy Halloween from SingleDad