A child’s graduation day is one that most parents approach with a feeling of intense pride. However, if you and your ex never became amicable co-parents, you may be dreading this day — and so may your child.
You may have been able to largely avoid dealing with your co-parent since the divorce. However, on graduation day, you won’t be able to escape them. Further, they may bring along your former in-laws, who never liked you, and their new spouse, who may have been the reason for your breakup.
That’s a lot to deal with — and in public. Remember that this is your child’s day. Neither you nor your co-parent should let your issues mar it. Unfortunately, some kids would rather skip graduation than see it turn into a family battlefield. Others ask one parent to stay home. Kids — whether they’re graduating from high school or college — shouldn’t have to make these decisions. They should have both parents there to support them and commit to behave like adults.
You can’t control what your ex does, but you can control your reactions. That means a little preparation. By now, you know all the ways that your ex can push your buttons. Practice some polite, benign responses. You may want to role-play them with your therapist or a friend.
Bring a support system with you — even if it’s just one friend or family member. Just make sure it’s someone who will be a calming influence and who can gracefully give you an excuse to leave a conversation or situation. Your best friend who hates your ex may not be the best wingman for you.
Even if you and your co-parent sit in separate areas during the ceremony or if graduation day involves a party or reception, your chances for interactions increase. While you may feel like you need a glass of champagne or something stronger to get through it, don’t drink. That only increases the risk that you’ll say or do something you’ll regret.
If your child is graduating from high school, this may mark the end of your child support and custody agreements — or it may not. This is a good time to review those with your attorney and determine what, if anything, is changing now. Remember, even if your child support and custody agreements are in the past, you’ll always be co-parents.