Parents may be wondering how to handle holiday festivities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially Halloween events. What to do is an open-ended question.
Co-parenting children can be challenging, even in the best of circumstances, and the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has presented parents with uncertainty and new issues. Not only do they have to deal with social distancing, there are health questions, work-related concerns, and difficult school schedules.
What are the Safety Protocols for Halloween?
New Jersey recently posted some guidelines that families can refer to. The “best” way to hand out treats on Halloween night is to arrange the candy in “such a way” that it limits the number of times each treat is touched. If homeowners choose to greet trick-or-treaters in person, the department suggests wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and washing your hands often. Residents going from house to house are told to limit groups to their own household members only.
Complete Transparency is Essential
The health of family members is extremely important. To make this a priority, co-parents need to be completely transparent about their actions. No one wants to risk losing parenting time, but if one was exposed or tested positive, the other family members need to know. This honest exchange of information will keep everyone safer. The parents can share how each will try to protect the children from being exposed.
Also, if one of the children is exhibiting symptoms and tests positive, both parents should be aware. If one parent feels that the other is not practicing social distancing or is behaving in a reckless manner, this topic should be discussed.
How can Families Celebrate Halloween Safely?
Trick-or-treating and parties are not the only ways to celebrate Halloween. Families can involve the children with decorating the inside and outside of their houses, including jack-o’-lanterns. Other fun ideas include family scavenger hunts, scary movie nights, and virtual costume contests.
Having small outdoor gathering that employ social distancing protocols may be doable, but it is not always easy to follow the rules, especially with younger children.
What Should I Tell My Children?
Putting the children’s best interests first means complying with state guidelines that apply to Halloween. Parents should expect that the children may be upset or angry about not being able to go trick-or-treating.
If possible, the parents should be on the same page. They can meet or speak ahead of time and decide the best way to tell the children about Halloween.
Giving the children some options like pumpkin painting, a costumed virtual meeting, or some of the other low-risk options. The more creative, the better.
Should Parents Share Holiday Events?
Even with the ongoing pandemic, Halloween can still be enjoyable. One of the best ways to ensure fun for everyone is to plan ahead of time. Parents should discuss who will have the children for Halloween activities, which can be addressed in a family meeting. If there is a child custody agreement or court order in place, this is the starting point.
Some separated families are able to spend holidays, like Halloween, together, and this can be a rewarding experience if everyone feels comfortable. Creating new holiday traditions, like cooking together, dressing up the family pet, taking videos, or visiting the grandparents can also make the holiday more special.
Ronald Lieberman, Esq. is a shareholder and partner at ALBFRM in Haddonfield, New Jersey. He has dedicated his practice to helping families deal with their pressing and unique family law issues.