No matter how stressful your divorce may have been, the one thing most divorced parents continue to share, and both take pride in, is their children. While some families navigate post divorce life easily, continuing to enjoy joint celebrations for holidays and birthdays, most divorced families are not so fortunate, and one parent or the other continues to experience sadness, stress or disappointment for any of the following reasons:
- their children are not with them for a holiday;
- their children are with the ex-spouse and his/her new family over the holiday;
- a child’s birthday falls on the other parent’s allocated day;
- it’s the other parents alternate year to have the child for a special holiday
….the list may go on and on. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of these issues, however, most parents take joint pride in their child’s accomplishments, particularly graduation.
In the best of all scenarios, everyone sits together at the graduation ceremony and enjoys a joint celebration. In that case, it is a good idea to talk to your ex in advance about the details as well as decide how you are going to handle payment of the shared celebration so as to avoid any uncomfortable situation or disappointment. If family members from each side have not been together in quite a while, it may be a good idea to ask for everyone’s cooperation in helping to make the celebration enjoyable for your child.
In many divorced families, however, sitting and celebrating together is not realistic. In those cases, each parent should schedule their own time to celebrate with their child, keeping in mind that their child likely also wants to be with their friends and certainly does not want to have to decide which parent to celebrate with and when. In order to avoid putting your child in the middle, communicate with your former spouse in advance and decide when each of you will have time to celebrate with your child.
Regardless of where your family falls on the spectrum, and regardless of whether your child is graduating middle school, high school or college, try your best to put aside your grievances and focus on the tremendous shared accomplishment that you and your ex have created. And if you succeed at getting through your child’s graduation with your ex, please remember to congratulate yourself too!