By Matt Allen
Being on your own as a divorced dad for the first Halloween may be even scarier than the ghosts and goblins that will be terrorizing your neighborhood.
It’s normal for recently divorced dads to feel guilt or anxiety over the breakdown of a marriage and subsequent effects on the children.
But it’s important to make every moment count with your child, no matter how awkward and unfamiliar Halloween and its surrounding events can be as a newly single dad.
Follow these divorce tips for men about co-parenting, communication, and safety on Halloween.
Our friend at SingleDad.com, RJ Jaramillo, recommends “over communicating” about the inevitable classroom parties and Halloween night plans with both your ex-wife and your child.
Since most divorce decrees do not address Halloween as a holiday subject to a different parenting time schedule, Jaramillo suggests making it a point to “openly discuss a game plan with your ex on sharing the day and evening events, separate and equally.”
Halloween is a perfect opportunity to show your support for your child by attending the classroom events. It is perfectly normal to negotiate these events and allow each parent the quality time they deserve with their child.
“As a newly divorced dad, you have to get comfortable with uncomfortable with sharing time at these family events,” Jaramillo writes in ‘Tips For Surviving Halloween As A Single Dad.’ “Keep the focus on your child, and never attempt to bring a friend or discuss any unresolved court matters if you are at the event together.”
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For nighttime trick-or-treating it is important to have a pre-determined agreement on the plans for the evening. Always keep the child’s best interest in mind.
Particularly during the first year post-divorce, kids want to see both Mom and Dad at events, so if your kid wants both of you around for trick-or-treating then grin and bear it. But also be wary of shuttling back and forth between mom’s neighborhood and dad’s neighborhood if you end up splitting the evening up.
Jaramillo said he has seen too many times that each parent wants to drag their child to separate Halloween events and the driving time takes away from the actual celebration and fun.
Communication with your child is also key. Take your time and make sure your child sees the “big picture” for this year’s Halloween activities. Let your kid know that these changes will not take away from their time with you, Jaramillo said.
Once plans are set with your ex-wife and you have talked with your child about this year’s arrangements, it’s time to think safety.
More than 41 million children went trick-or-treating in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And though 92 percent of people consider their neighborhoods to be safe, Halloween is not your normal night with sidewalks and streets teemed with costumed children and parents following behind in cars.
Here are some tips to keep in mind on Halloween:
Go along for the fun. A little adult supervision can go a long way along with how much fun it can be to see the excitement on your child’s face.
Stay on the beaten path. Stay in populated areas and away from open fields, back alleys, etc. Choosing well-lit streets is a good rule.
Go only to known houses. Go to the homes of people you know and can trust. While treat tampering is rare, you have to exercise a little caution. And there is a built in benefit – treats are usually a little better if the person behind the door knows the kids who are knocking!
Take a few safety precautions. Make sure your children have a flashlight or chemical “glow stick” with them. Putting a little reflective tape on the back of costumes is a good idea as well. Make sure that if your child is carrying a prop, such as a pitchfork, that the tips are smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury if fallen on. Make sure that costumes won’t get in the way when they are walking, which could cause them to trip.
Take your phone. Make sure that your child has a pre-programmed cell phone with him/her if they go out on Halloween night in case the unthinkable happens and you somehow get separated.
Above all, cherish this Halloween whether it’s your first as a divorced dad or you’re a sage veteran of the single dad lifestyle. Time is the one thing you cannot get back, so make every moment count with your child.
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