How To Deal With Divorced Parents On Graduation Day, Because It's Not Always Easy

Having divorced parents is no picnic. Finishing college is no picnic. So, if you’re about to graduate and your parents are divorced, it’s pretty normal to be feeling stressed about graduation day, especially if your parents don’t get along. You’re culminating a however-many-years-long journey of grueling tests and classes, so you deserve to be carefree and in-the-moment on the day you worked so hard for. You shouldn’t have to worry about how to deal with divorced parents on graduation day, but if you find yourself in that incredibly uncomfortable position, fear not! It is possible to walk across the stage without worrying about whether or not your parents are in the audience recreating WrestleMania!

First off, it’s important to note that making sure your parents get along is not your job to begin with. As someone who’s experienced it first hand, your parents’ divorce is their issue, not yours. They’re adults who can figure out how to deal with each other on their own. And if it’s your graduation day, and both of your parents know how important it is to you, they should be able to agree to be friendly so that all eyes are on you. Positive vibes only, y’all!

The last thing you need, want, or deserve is to have this momentous occasion tarnished by attitude and bad behavior. Hopefully you won’t need to, but if your parents' relationship is irreconcilable, take the following steps if you think it will help graduation run smoothly.

Constantly Remind Them How Much It Means To You That They’re There

You might not even need to have a “be on your best behavior” type of conversation with them. If you can’t see yourself asking them to play nice directly, use the weeks before the ceremony to lovingly remind them how much they mean to you. Tell them you appreciate how hard they worked to get you an education, and that you wouldn’t be graduating if not for their unconditional love and support. Tell them how happy you are that they’re there, and, if you want to be a little less subtle, how much it means to you that they’re making an effort to be civil with your other parent. Making them think that you automatically assume they’ll be nice plants the seed in their minds. It’s not not guilting them, but YOLO. It’s a big day and there’s nothing wrong with making sure everyone gets along.

Have The Conversation

If subtlety isn’t their thing, sit your parents down separately and ask them to please do their best to get along on graduation day. Tell them all of the above, and add that positive energy and peaceful interactions between them and your other parent would make the day even better. Tell them to please, speak to each other in private if they’re feeling tense, but to not project that tension onto you or your other guests.

Keep Them Separate

So, your parents can’t be in the same room together. Got it. Not ideal, but still doable. The good thing about graduations is they usually happen in big auditoriums, so your parents don’t really have to see each other if they don’t want to. Make sure their tickets are in different sections (if they’re assigned seats, see if you can trade a few tickets with a friend) and plan your schedule accordingly. After-ceremony drinks with your dad’s family and dinner with your mom could be a good compromise, or vice versa! Just make sure that you’re scheduling face time with both sides. They did make the trek to see you graduate, after all.

You also want to make sure you're organized in the way you take photos directly after the ceremony. Every college does it differently, but at mine, all the graduates met up with their families outside the stadium for a literal photo extravaganza. If that's the case, specify to one parent that you're going to meet up with the other first, and where. That way, you can avoid awkward run-ins. This is stressful, I know, and it's unfair. But being organized and planning ahead ensures it runs as smoothly as possible.

Clear Up Anything You’re Unsure About

If one parent is throwing you a graduation party, is the other parent invited? If one parent comes to your graduation alone, are they still banned from sitting with the rest of your family? These are unique situations, but they are things to consider and plan for. Iron out these kinks weeks before graduation so that you’re not stressed about them on the day of.

This day is about you, not about your parents. Of course, they may have very well helped you become the person you are today, and that’s great! But you don’t have to be stressed about them on a day where all you should be is happy and proud of yourself for literally crushing college. This is the first day of the rest of your life! You, your parents, and anyone else who loves you should know that, and if they do, they’ll want to make it a good one.

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