We first of all stood in a long line waiting to get into the auditorium with 2000 other excited people who couldn't wait to get a glimpse of their child on the stage receiving their diploma. In our small town of Olathe, KS there were four other high school graduations going on at the same time. The Saturday before graduation our life was consumed with graduation parties. I couldn't tell who was the most excited, the graduates or the family members as we saw some interesting behaviors from parents who were celebrating their children's accomplishment.
As they began to call the long list of over 500 names, my mind drifted back to my own graduation ceremony. I remembered our class motto, but for the life of me couldn't remember who the speaker was. I dug through my collection of things and found out it was the first African American Judge in the state of Oklahoma. Now I will remember. I also remember how proud my parents were of my accomplishments.
Going back to the interesting behaviors of parents....As a stepfamily specialist it is easy for me to spot the married parents of children versus the divorced parents or those with broken relationships. There are distinct behaviors for each. Those with severed relationships will sometimes sit in different sections of the building, take separate pictures and compete to see who can yell louder. All the while the child is thinking...
"Can we all just get along?"
It is important that parents put their differences aside to support their children. For some children it is difficult for their parents to be in the same room. We must remember that this special time in the child's life is not about you as a parent, it is about the child. I am thankful that we were able to jointly support our children and celebrate together. Here are 4 tips to help you successfully navigate graduation activities.
1) Have a planning meeting to discuss upcoming events. Talk about how the child wants to celebrate their graduation.
2) Share the cost of graduation activities - Graduation is costly with pictures, parties, proms, cap and gowns, etc.
3) Co-Host the graduation celebration. If you are not comfortable in the other parent's home, select a neutral location for the graduation party.
4) Sit together at graduation and take some pictures together. If one arrives before the other save a seat for the other parent and guests.
Most of all relax and have a good time. If your children have already graduated, the same rules can be followed for birthday parties and weddings. Just remember, these events are last memories in a child's life, make it special for them.