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Don’t let your feelings about your co-parent spoil your child’s graduation

Graduation season is always one of mixed feelings for parents. Your child has completed part of their education, but they’re moving on to the next stage of their life where they probably won’t need you as much.

For divorced and divorcing parents, upcoming graduations can carry an additional level of anxiety and even dread because it means you’ll have to see and probably interact with your co-parent. You may encounter your former in-laws and perhaps a new significant other or spouse. Whether they’re graduating from middle school or medical school, you know that you have to put your negative feelings about your co-parent aside and remember that it’s your child’s special day.

A few tips for the big day

Be polite. You don’t have to give your ex a big hug. Just be civil – like you might with a co-worker who takes credit for all your good ideas and with whom you have to exchange pleasantries at the annual company picnic. That means no snarky remarks to or about them.

If you need to sit together at the graduation ceremony, do it. Your child may not be able to get you separate seating. It can also mean a lot for them to look out and see their family together. If you are sitting separately, make sure your child knows where to find both of you.

If your child wants pictures with both of you together, indulge them. They deserve one photo of their parents together and not looking miserable.

Coordinate celebratory events

Many graduations involve family dinners and parties before and/or after. First, find out what your child wants. If they’re agreeable to a family get-together, talk with your co-parent. If the two of you can’t or don’t want to plan something together, at least don’t make your child choose between events and don’t make them deal with two separate parties (unless they want to). They probably have plans of their own.

If this is your first time sharing a big family event since you broke up, just remember that there will likely be many more. You might as well learn how to deal with them gracefully. You can’t control how your ex behaves, but you can set a good example for your kids.

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