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High School Graduation Etiquette for Divorced Parents

By Samantha Kemp ; Updated June 13, 2017

Although divorce helped you to disentangle from your former spouse, it doesn't get you out of all of the sticky situations that come along with sharing children. While it may be difficult to see your ex-spouse or the new stepparent, your child expects you to make the day about the momentous accomplishment of his graduation and not about your personal drama with his other parent by acting with good manners throughout the planning and completion of the graduation.

Invitations and Other Mailings

The name of both biological parents should appear on graduation invitations, announcements and other stationery that is sent out regarding the graduation. If both parents are co-hosting a party, both their names should appear on the party invitations, too. If new spouses are involved, you and the other parent can discuss whether to include the new spouses' names. Graduation invitations are for the actual event at the high school, and you should send them at least two weeks before the graduation. Consider sending them sooner if the invites are going to out-of-town guests. Graduation announcements can be sent two to three weeks after the graduation.

Parties

You may want to celebrate your teen's accomplishment by having a big bash. If you can get along together, you may co-host a party and you can limit contact with your ex-spouse by talking to other guests and engaging your child during the event. In other cases, two separate parties may work out better if you can't stomach being in the same room together. Plan the parties far enough apart that the graduate can attend both events without having to rush or become exhausted. You may want to have a party with your side of the family one day and a party for your ex-spouse's family another day.

Seating

Graduations often have limited seating and each guest may have to have his own ticket. If possible, sit together so that your child can see both loving parents in the audience together. If other relatives are attending, they can sit between you and your ex-spouse if they get along. If you and your ex did not split amicably, it may help ease the tension to sit far apart from each other.

Coordinating

You may have several topics to discuss with your former spouse regarding the graduation, including guest lists, parties, gifts and other details of the event. Make a plan before you bring up any of these subjects, then meet your spouse in person, smile and be brief. Don't ask your child to be the messenger between you and your former spouse so that she doesn't feel trapped in the middle. If conversations fall through, don't badmouth the other parent. Don't threaten to skip the event if your child invites his other parent or a stepparent. Avoid anything that will cause a scene, such as alcohol or rehashing past sins. Remember at all times that this event is about your child.

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