Mediating Conflict,
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Co-parenting reminders for graduation season

When your child was toddling around the house, you probably found it hard to imagine the day when they’d graduate from high school, let alone college or grad school. You likely also didn’t imagine that you and your spouse would no longer be together

But here you are, and you’re wondering how you’ll get through this momentous occasion that will throw you together in a public venue with someone you’d prefer never to see again. There are also family graduation celebrations to plan that could put members of both sides of the family together. How do people do it?

Remember that it is your child’s day

This is likely going to be an exciting and perhaps emotional day for your child. Whichever educational milestone they’ve accomplished, they’ll be saying goodbye to friends and their school. The last thing they should worry about is whether their parents will create a scene.

How you and your ex deal with this day could determine whether you’ll be invited to any further graduations – let alone weddings, holiday gatherings, grandchildren’s birthday parties and more. You can be civil to your ex even if you can’t be friendly.

Don’t ask your child to get you seats in separate areas if that’s going to create more work or to get extra tickets for your significant other or your new stepchildren. This is about your child’s accomplishment – not you or your co-parent’s new lives. If you need to sit next to each other for a few hours, you can do it. If they want a photo with both of you together, let them have it. After all, you both worked to make this day possible.

Do you celebrate together or separately?

If your child wants to celebrate with family before or after graduation, let them decide what they’d prefer. Would they like a dinner with everyone, or would they rather have two separate gatherings? Chances are, they won’t want to bring both sides of the family together unless they know everyone will enjoy themselves. They may prefer not to have any family events and opt to go out with friends instead.

Remember that you can only control your own actions. If your ex or one of your former in-laws chooses to be unpleasant or try to provoke you, don’t give in. You’ll want to remember this time fondly – and make sure that your child does as well.