When blended families get together for a big event, there can be a clash of traditions or expectations. But it is possible for blended families to have healthy interactions and preserve the overall emotional wellness of everyone involved. At this time of year, graduation is often an event that can bring joy—and tension—to family gatherings. Below are a few tips for having a successful graduation party for blended families.
Keep the Focus
Remember what the celebration is about. This party is about a milestone in the life of the graduate. Whenever it seems like someone is losing sight of that, just simply bring the focus back to the graduate. Ili Walter, PhD, LMFT of Family Therapy Basics urges, “Keep your love for the graduate in mind as you collaborate with members of the blended family. Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions and share the limelight. Perhaps one parent can host the graduation party, and one can host a meal. Separate events foster goodwill and give each parent the chance to honor their child’s accomplishment. Also, don’t forget to ask the graduate how they want to celebrate the milestone. An event designed around their desires will naturally invite a team spirit from family members.”
“Remember, the most important person in celebrating this milestone is the graduate.”
Keep It Light
The important thing to keep in mind during the graduation party are the accomplishments of the graduate. Everything else can wait. Dr. Mathis Kennington, PhD, LMFT encourages all parents involved to lead through example, “For blended families, happy and healthy graduations start from the top. To make sure your child experiences everything she or he should, parents need to communicate before the event to set boundaries and ground rules so that there’s no awkward family conflict that gets in the way of the celebrations. Even older children will only be as calm as their parents. So make co-parenting a priority long before graduation day arrives.” Be present for your awesome grad and keep things light. This event should be memorable and fun! If you’re having fun, it’ll encourage them to have fun too.
Keep the Peace
This special time is not the time to bring up grievances or let resentment cloud your judgment. Let your graduate have their shining moment without letting any conflict parents may have get in the way of that. Surely any problems can be set aside for one graduation party (and hopefully beyond that!). Give your grad the gift of peace on this day. Show them how proud you all are and encourage them to be proud of themselves. Graduating is an amazing achievement! Keep it peaceful.
Whether there is a graduation, a wedding, or any other family celebration, put conflicts aside and focus on the the reason for the gathering. Healthy blended families take effort from everyone involved.