• Vanessa

"Graduation Day"

It is nice to be back in the blogging chair after a much anticipated (and much needed) vacation. Did I miss anything? Haha. Kidding.

I can’t believe that the month of May is almost over! May is always a busy month in the Hammer household. Mother’s day, Felix’s birthday, my birthday, a myriad of graduations, first communions, and the end of the school year means that we are going non-stop around here. So it is with many families this time of year. Soon we will all be enjoying warmer temperatures and the long lazy days of summer.

For now, it’s graduation season that has me thinking. I have seen many friends post about graduations and other milestones in their children’s lives. These are happy occasions where family members gather to celebrate and cheer on other family members. In the divorced-parenting world, and as the child of divorced parents, these times are happy yet can be times of trepidation and unease. The event itself is happy but the child must navigate very choppy waters between “mom’s family” and “dad’s family” at a singular event (be it graduation, Holy Communion, etc.). Parents most times, but not always, confer with each other in advance in order to schedule pictures of the Graduate with “mom’s family” and then “dad’s family;”each avoiding the other because heaven forbid that they each share the same airspace.

I mourn for these children. The ones who are unwillingly forced to navigate a terra incognita between Mom’s world and Dad’s world. The kids who are subjected to splitting time between Mom’s family and Dad’s family. Picture time with Mom’s folks is carefully orchestrated to not interfere with Dad’s folks. Parents, I ask you, please don’t put your children through this. When you behave this way, you make the situation about you. What you don’t realize is that “your family” is your child’s family and “your ex’s family” is your child’s family too.

Like it or not, you are all connected through the fascinating creature that you share in common. Your reasons for divorce don’t matter. The blame doesn’t matter. How you feel about your ex doesn’t matter. What matters is that child…the one walking toward the graduation stage, the one walking up the church aisle. That child wants to enjoy his/her accomplishment with ALL of you: mom’s family and dad’s family. HER family. Period. This day and momentous occasion is about your child and what she has accomplished. It is about the big and complicated feelings that swell from the joyful and hopeful heart of any teenager; whether they are from a divorced home or an intact home.

It’s not about you and your feelings. It’s not about your comfort or even about your mother (grandmother)’s comfort. It’s about celebrating your child and keeping the focus squarely where it belongs: on your child and her accomplishments. Your child deserves to walk onto that graduation stage and into the arms of a family that loves her for no reason other than she is loved and is admired by her ENTIRE family for what she has endured and what she has accomplished along the way.

No child wants to be put in the middle. No child wants to have to choose between her maternal or paternal side because, guess what, she loves all of you.

No matter whether it is kindergarten graduation, high school graduation, or undergraduate graduation, a child seeks the love, comfort, and validation of her family and her history. Be there. Be present and participate. Your children are watching and, in their later years, what you do now very well can lead to a child who is either going to engage in the togetherness or who will engage in the distance. The choice is yours.

Wishing you all much needed rest and good health!

P.S. -The use of feminine pronouns is not intended to express a preference for one gender or another but rather for ease of writing.

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