Did you know that in Sweden, people don’t celebrate Halloween? When I was growing up there in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, everything I knew about the holiday came from American television and movies. It wasn’t until I moved to the U.S. in 1996 that I first experienced the magic of jack-o’-lantern carving, trick-or-treating, and hanging Halloween decorations.
Today, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I absolutely love it, and Hisham and I always get in on the fun. Usually, our whole family dresses up in matching Halloween costumes. We’ve been superheroes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and characters from the Disney movie “Aladdin.” I wanted to be the “Aladdin” villain Jafar that year because I thought it would be funny, but the kids vetoed the idea. They decided I should be Jasmine instead!
As you can tell, Hisham and I usually let the kids lead the way on our costumes and Halloween celebrations. The year Hanna wanted to dress up as Anna from the movie “Frozen” I played along and bought an Elsa costume. Halloween is more magical for them than for us, so they set the agenda to make those important memories.
Usually, that means trick-or-treating in our neighborhood until they’re exhausted! Then, after they fall asleep, Hisham and I do the traditional parent thing and dig into those goody bags. Fortunately, Rami and Hanna don’t like peanuts, so they don’t mind when I eat their Reese’s Pieces.
I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful husband who celebrates Halloween with me and our kids. But if Hisham and I were divorced or separated, I’d make sure we took the same approach to the holiday and let our kids’ dreams, imaginations, and creativity lead the way.
The older our kids get, the more important holidays like Halloween become. It’s important for their social lives to spend time with their friends and trick-or-treat in the neighborhoods they truly want to visit. As a parent, it can be tempting to assign ownership over every holiday so we can have as much time as possible with our children. But true success in co-parenting isn’t just about what makes us happy; it’s about what brings joy to our kids.
If you’re “spooked” about how to spend this Halloween (Whose day is it? Should you split time? Who gets those Halloween memories?), I’d suggest setting your ego aside and asking your kids how they’d like to enjoy the holiday. Ask whom they’d like to trick-or-treat with, which parties they want to attend, and how you can support that.
Of course, this might lead to some awkward situations — if your children are young, they might want you and your ex to take them trick-or-treating together, for example — and there’s no right or wrong way to handle those, but just remember that putting your kids first reminds them their experience is important to you. It also ensures they’ll create the magical Halloween memories I didn’t have as a kid!
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