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After Divorce: Your Child’s Graduation

Children, even adult children, sometimes feel stressed or torn when they have to celebrate special events with two sides of their families.

My daughter Julia inspired this article. Her father and I separated when she was just two-and-a-half years old. She doesn't remember a time when her family was just one family.

This month she will graduate from college. She wants to have a party at which everyone she cares about can celebrate with her. She has had enough of celebrating a holiday or special event once with my family and again separately with her father’s family (or vice versa).

And she’s right. 

This was not easy for me. The idea of being surrounded by my ex’s local relatives, who dramatically outnumber my local relatives, at a time when I wanted to be celebrating Julia’s graduation, sounded awful at first. It seemed as if this very special event would belong to them and not to me. I did not want to spoil the party by not going or by going and looking lonely and miserable. I had to work on myself to find a better way to think about the party. With help from friends, that became possible.

The important thing is, this is HER graduation and HER party. It does not belong to me or to her dad. She is an adult now and should be able to include everyone she wants in her celebration. My role is just to contribute to her having a great time. 

So instead of feeling sorry for myself about being so outnumbered, I remembered that several of these ex-relatives are people I liked whom I have not seen for years. Catching up with them might be fun.

In addition, Julia’s boyfriend’s mother will be there, and getting to know her is really something to look forward to. Seeing some of Julia’s friends from high school and college will be fun. And, as one friend noted, the graduation party may be a rehearsal for her wedding. We certainly want all of Julia’s relatives and friends to be able to celebrate that together harmoniously.

So here’s to a great graduation party for Julia and everyone she loves.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dave May 12, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Nice article and some good practical thoughts. Divorce is certainly not a "one size fits all" experience. The important thing here is that a graduation (or any number of other significant family events) is a celebration and not another opportunity to reinforce hard feelings.
Virginia Colin May 13, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Shortly after the article above was posted, i happened to read an article about the opposite extreme: elderly long-divorced parents still putting their children (now middle-aged) in the middle of their hostility toward each other. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/wellbeing/9196209/Cristina-Odone-Divorce-never-gets-any-easier.html

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