When parents split up, it can be scary for kids. There are so many things a couple contemplating divorce or legal separation can do to make the transition easier for their kids. Halloween, the scariest time of year, is a great time to remember the basics: It's okay for kids to be spooked by ghosts and goblins this time of year, but they shouldn't be spooked about how their parents will act when it comes time to trick or treat.
The first step is to agree on trick-or-treating parameters -- not just hours and neighborhood, but basic safety, too. Safety experts, including a physician with Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, have the following tips for a safe Halloween:
- Kids, especially older kids, will want to trick or treat after dark. Remind them to look out for cars, and have them carry a flashlight or reflective treat bag. You can also incorporate something reflective into their costumes.
- Children aged 9 and under should go out with an adult.
- Children old enough to go out without an adult should trick or treat in groups and stick to a predetermined route.
- Kids should never go into a stranger's house.
Parents should also "inspect the haul." Anyone who remembers the '70s and the urban legends of razor blades in candy apples may be skeptical, but it's a good practice to make sure you know what your children are eating. Don't let your kids eat anything that isn't commercially wrapped. Watch out for ingredients like peanuts that can trigger allergic reactions.
When couples think about visitation schedules and custody arrangements, they most often think of the "big" holidays -- Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Years -- and school holidays. They skip over Halloween, even though it's a great opportunity for family fun and lasting memories. (Remember that pumpkin costume your youngest wore when she was just 8 months old?) As couples devise their parenting plans, they should keep all the special days in mind and remember, year-round, that it's about the kids.
Resource: MyFoxChicago.com "Halloween Safety Tips: Children's Memorial Hospital's Dr. Michael Pitt" 10/27/10