If this is your first child graduating high school since your divorce, or if your last child’s high school graduation after divorce was a disaster, consider some or all of the suggestions below. We sincerely hope you can make your child’s high school graduation and post graduation party happy experiences for you and your child. This article is written with an eye towards the more contentious divorces. If you are capable of accomplishing all these suggestions on your own, you and your ex are to be commended! If this is new, take a breath and remind yourself this is only for a few hours. You are to be commended for working to make your child’s high school graduation a memorable event, recognizing their many accomplishments.
High School Graduation After Divorce: Find Common Ground
Depending on any number of factors, this may be a difficult task. However, that depends, in part, on your perspective. Consider this: both you and your child’s other parent love your child. You may not love them in the same way. You may not choose to parent in the same way. In fact, it is entirely possible that one of you parents substantially less than the other parent. None the less, you both love the child you have in common. If this is all you can agree on, then you still have a solid starting place for a making sure your child’s high school graduation is a joyous one.
High School Graduation After Divorce: Build on Common Ground
No matter how contentious your divorce, in most cases, the children just want both their parents present and celebrating their achievement of graduating from high school. Every effort should be made to keep the focus off you and your ex, and on your child. Barring abusive relationships, and those involving a restraining order of some kind, you should both be able to attend the graduation ceremony. You are not expected to talk at the ceremony, (in fact, you are specifically expected not to talk during the ceremony!) so there is no need to work to find common ground beyond your love of your child and your commitment to making your child happy, celebrating their accomplishment. If you can sit together for the time of the ceremony, do so. This will make your child ridiculously happy.
High School Graduation After Divorce: Do Not Engage in Acts of Sabotage
Unless your new partner has had a significant role in raising your child, do not bring them to the high school graduation. If you child’s school only offers a limited number of tickets to graduation, make sure your ex knows you will share the tickets with them 50/50. Do not attempt to grab all but one ticket, and then represent to your ex you had no control over the number of tickets distributed. Your ex will figure out your deception when they arrive at graduation, and note you, your sister, and your parents are in attendance. Your is not the only family forced to make hard choices about who can and cannot attend the actual graduation. Deception will not make the situation better.
High School Graduation After Divorce: Consider a Joint Party
Your child’s extended family includes both sides of the family tree. Even if you aren’t particularly close to your ex’s family, consider a joint graduation party. It is important to remember the party is about celebrating the graduate. It is not about you, your ex, or the end of your marriage. A graduation open house for 1:00 to 3:00 pm should be manageable for even those who had difficult divorces. You can spend your time talking to your family and focusing on your child. You do not have to socialize with your ex’s family if you don’t want to.
If you simply cannot bear the thought of being at the same party as your child’s other parent, consider carefully a plan for two separate parties. These parties should not be on the same day or compete for the same guests. The last thing you want is for your child to feel they must choose one parent or one party over the other.
High School Graduation After Divorce: Invest in Your Behavior, Not Your Ex’s
It is easy to spend time thinking about how your ex screwed up the marriage, isn’t as good a parent as you, or caused the divorce. However, this is not productive – particularly when focusing on your child’s high school graduation. Instead, spend your time focused on you. How will you make sure your child knows you are celebrating their big achievement? If your partner pushes your buttons, make a plan for how you will extricate yourself from the situation. Note the sentence does not read, “If your partner pushes your buttons, make a plan for how you will respond.”
While it is normal to sometimes think about how you’d like to put someone in their place, your child’s high school graduation is not the time. You are no longer married to this person. What they think of you is none of your business. Focus on your child, and make a plan that allows you to keep that focus. This may include having a friend for support to distract you, or an escape plan to take a time out if you need. It.
If you are considering divorce, contact the divorce lawyers at Fait & DiLima. With a practice exclusively dedicated to family law issues such as divorce, child custody, and child support, the attorneys at Fait & DiLima are able to take on your divorce case, focusing on the direction you want it to go. There are many ways to approach a divorce, including mediation and collaborative law. The best way for your divorce to proceed is a matter of preference, by and large. Of course, neither you nor your lawyer controls the decisions made by your soon to be ex, however, there are ways of approaching divorce that can, under the right circumstances, reduce conflict significantly. Contact us today for a consultation.