Graduation season will soon be upon us and millions of teenagers will get ready to celebrate a big accomplishment and the start of their lives as adults. But for some of these graduates, their happy occasion may be dampened by festering family conflict due to divorce. Some parents, because of the residual feelings from divorce, have difficulty coming together to celebrate the child, and from the child’s perspective, this is really unfortunate.
Dr. Michael Rubino, a psychologist, wrote an excellent article on this very subject, and we share it with you here and encourage you to read it.
Why do some parents have such difficulty coming together for their children? Dr. Rubino suggests it has to do with unresolved feelings from the marriage that failed, and the need to “win” the battle for the child as “favorite” parent. Not surprisingly, most children see through this behavior and feel angry and hurt, especially on a day devoted to their accomplishments.
Other factors complicate the mix: family members who harbor resentments, financial issues, a remarriage.
What to do in these situations? Quite simply, put oneself in the position of the graduate who has worked so hard with the added stress of parents who do not get along. That teen may not ask for much, but harmony or at least a truce at this time to focus on graduation is certainly in that request.
But as Dr. Rubino notes, coming together given all the hostility can be difficult. So parents should think of the child first and plan far ahead to assure a smooth celebration, which means working out all the details, from seating to a party to a guest list to sharing in the costs. It may not be easy, but each parent should do what is necessary to make sure the event stays focused on the child and that everyone comes to celebrate the child, even if they normally would not otherwise come together at all.
We have seen former spouses in court over these types of scenarios, so great can the conflict get and the focus vanish.
Everyone in the family should be proud and should all be welcomed to celebrate. It would be a shame to send a young adult into the world on such a sour note.
If you have questions about divorce and graduation, contact us – we can help.