October 31 (Halloween) comes on Saturday this year. Consequently, with no school scheduled the next day, children of all ages will be trick or treating. Whether you are divorced or are going through a divorce, you may be wondering, should I even celebrate Halloween? Well, here are a few reasons for you to consider:
- You get to meet the neighbors. When your children are younger and they dress up, you get to walk around the neighborhood and as your children knock on doors, you get to meet the neighbors, learn their names, look into their houses, and get to know each other. The same connection happens even if you're just "manning the treat station" at your own home. Every time there is a knock on the door or the doorbell rings, you get to open it. You ooo and ah over the costumes, ask what character they are, then you chat with the adult chaperone, your neighbor. Given that most of the year we're driving back and forth to work and cooped up in our homes, we don't get much of a chance to connect. So do not neglect or lose out on this opportunity to learn more about your neighbors and your neighborhood.
- Our kids have to earn their treats. Halloween is the only holiday where the kids have to earn what they consume. You want another piece of candy? Well then you have to walk to another house, smile, be polite, act cute, and say the magic words “trick-or-treat”. Being polite and cordial and working for your rewards are not necessarily bad life lessons for younger children or even teenagers to have reinforced upon them.
- The centerpiece is a vegetable. As a parent, I defy anyone to tell me that their children are wild about any vegetable. However, for a few magical days at Halloween, children are crazy about pumpkins. You may even get them to sample a few pumpkin dishes if you're creative. Certainly, you are the center of their attention if you're helping them hollow out and carve a pumpkin.
- Your children can be anything they want. Children of all ages may spend weeks contemplating the costume and/or character that they are going to wear or the character they're going to play during Halloween. The thoughts can evolve into creative and fun conversations with their families, their friends, and others. I love the message of Halloween, “you can be anything you want to be”. That's a very powerful message for our children and certainly we should encourage it anytime that we can.
So the question becomes, how do we get our teens (who often may be sullen and non-communicative) to enjoy and embrace Halloween? The activities to encourage your teen to participate in Halloween, making Halloween and your teen compatible, are many and include:
- Dressing up and trick-or-treating. In my neighborhood, the tradition has continued even for young and older teenagers to dress up and continue to trick-or-treat. Teenagers often will do a quick trick-or-treat for memory sake around the neighborhood to show off their costumes and their characters to the neighbors before they go off to celebrate at a party or a dance somewhere.
- Visit a haunted house. Now, you can almost always count on a haunted house to give any child a scare. But for teens who think they aren't scared of anything, you have to find a really good one. Many communities have such a facility set up for teenagers and adults. However, make sure that it is age-appropriate. Some areas even go to the extent of trying to emulate Universal Studio's "Halloween Horror Night". Save the super scary theme park haunted houses for older teens. But do encourage them to go out and get scared just a little bit.
- Have a Halloween movie party. Pick out the scariest PG‑13 movies you can find for your teen and his or her friends to watch in the dark. Offer up either a mix of classic or more modern Halloween movies. Classics may include "The Birds" (that Hitchcock cult favorite about murderous attacks from birds) and "Gremlins" (which features seemingly cute, but totally vicious, creatures). More contemporary options may include "The Sixth Sense" about a boy who can see dead people and "The Ring" about a creepy videotape that leads to some gruesome deaths. Make sure you talk to the parents of the teens that are visiting your house beforehand and make sure that they approve their kids' watching the movies that you are going to provide to their children.
- Halloween sleepover party. Let your teen have a Halloween-theme sleepover packed with ghostly activities. Have a contest to see who can tell the scariest ghost story. Put on a Halloween-theme scavenger hunt with the lights off and the flashlights on as the only source of light. Have a freaky fashion show. Plan a fashion show and/or a dance competition. Make sure that your teens' friends are notified in advance, so they have enough time to prepare their costume or they get to choose their dance music. Think about what you're going to give as a prize.
- Wrap the dead body. Divide the teens into pairs. One of them has to play a dead body and the other has to wrap the other in a white cloth, making sure that none of the partner's body parts are even a little visible. You need to give the same amount of cloth to all pairs of teens. To have any more fun, cut the cloth into pieces so that it takes more time for the person to wrap their partner. The pair which is able to wrap the "dead body" the quickest is declared the winner.
- Weave creepy stories. Halloween parties or sleepovers are always incomplete without the spooky and creepy atmosphere associated with this holiday. So a great activity that you can have your teen undertake is to discuss ghost stories. Keep the room dimly lit and play some soft, creepy music in the background while the teens tell each other some spine-chilling tales.
- Cook treats quick. No Halloween party is complete without some scary treats. For this activity, divide all the people into groups of two or four. Remember -- too many cooks spoil the soup. Buy enough groceries to supply all of the groups. Each of the teams have to prepare something that is consistent with the theme of Halloween and they have to do this fast. Everyone will be judged on taste and on the time of preparation as well. You can commence this activity with everyone having the same groceries/cooking supplies to prepare or have them draw lots as to different combinations of cooking supplies and groceries. Rather than concentrating on items that have to be actually cooked, you may want to concentrate on items that can be prepared with cold ingredients. In that fashion, you can avoid burnt fingers and you will have available plenty of cooking stations for all of the participants.
In any event, at some point in time, the teens may want to go out and visit the neighborhood. Whether your teens are going out to trick-or-treat or going out to look around, they have to remember the basic safety rules:
- Do not go outside without a flashlight and your cell phone.
- You can go up to a stranger's house and trick-or-treat, but you can never go inside a stranger's home.
- Be careful where you're walking on the roadway or sidewalk.
- Set the curfew and make sure they keep the curfew.
Whether you're a divorced parent, a single parent or married parents, following these ideas may give you and your teen a great Halloween celebration, and may give you and your teen memories to talk about for years to come.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss your divorce or other family law matter, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312.