Q. My ex insists on some sort of Halloween trick-or-treating with the kids, but with COVID looming I think we must be cautious. That, and the fact that we never really designated who the kids should be with on Halloween, and they are scheduled to be with me on the 31st. We are now butting heads and normally, I would find a way for them to see each other, but with COVID, I don't think the kids should go house-to-house. My ex says he's getting gipped out of a holiday and is being very uncooperative. What's good ex-etiquette?
A. This is a perfect example of where two people have backed themselves into a corner and it's either my way or no way_and if you both calm down, forget about your own self interests, and look for the compromise, (Good Ex-etiquette for Parents rule #10) a solution can be found.
First, I'd like to address your ex's feeling of being gipped out of time with the kids. That way of thinking comes from a "your time/my time" mentality and it appears you both think of time with the kids in that manner - your ex is just more vocal because he feels like the underdog right now.
The truth is, it's not your time or dad's time with the kids, it's the kids' time with you. They are each only one person splitting THEIR time, and it's your job to rearrange YOUR schedules to compensate for the fact that they have to go back and forth between the two of you. It requires them to check their allegiances and uproot their life possibly on a weekly basis, and the least both of you can do is stand back and look at what you might do to make your decision easier on them.
That said, nothing is ever written in stone. Put your heads together. Figure out a way to celebrate without putting the kids or others at risk. Trick-or treating may be put on the back burner this year, but you may be able to arrange a good old fashioned family get together. Yes, you're divorced...so? There are ways to get around it.
If you don't want to spend time together with the kids, have you ever heard of a progressive dinner? Each course is at a different friend or family members home? So, put your heads together and figure out a progressive Halloween - cookie making and pumpkin carving at mom's, then go to dad's for a homemade haunted house. Bob for apples at grandma and grandpa's if they live nearby and it's not putting them at danger.
I'm just throwing out ideas, but that's the point. We have to think out of the box right now - and if you can do it now and work together now in the midst of something like a COVID pandemic, that sets the stage for doing it at other times. For the sake of your children. That's good ex-etiquette.
(Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of "Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation," and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com. Email her at the Ex-Etiquette website www.exetiquette.com at email@example.com.)(c)2020 Jann Blackstone, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.