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Moment Of Clarity

Graduation & Blended Families: Making it Work

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By now, we’ve heard about the graduation of 50 Cent’s oldest son, Marquise, and about how 50 wasn’t there. While there has been a significant amount of back and forth between the parents as to who’s at fault, at the end of the day, Marquise is the one who loses.

Having a blended family can be tough. I know because my family is blended and I counsel blended families regularly. The most difficult part of being in a blended family is parenting. Questions around religion, day care, expenses, and how to divide or share the children on holidays/special occasions can be touchy subjects for many parents.

So, to help blended families celebrate the wonderful milestone of graduation, regardless if they hate each other or not, I offer the following tips:

1) Take responsibility for choosing to be there. When one parent doesn’t make a graduation or special occasion, it is typically the non-custodial parent. And, like 50, he often claims he wasn’t invited or he didn’t know; and on that … I call “BULLSH!T.” It doesn’t matter if you see your child every day, every other weekend or every summer. You are responsible for keeping in contact with your son/daughter, custodial parent, and the school so you are abreast of events, activities, and their progress. And, if you don’t know when your kid is graduating, I question how involved you are in his or her life.

To either be or not be a part of your child’s life is a choice that YOU make – not the custodial parent. There are a number of laws that prevent custodial parents from interfering with visitation. However, if you give up on developing a relationship with your kid because it’s too hard to deal with the other parent, or because your kid is mad at you, or because you have more important things to do, then that falls on you and no one else. Yeah, that means you, too, 50 Cent!

2) Show up anyway.  If you don’t have a ticket to get in, put on your best suit/dress, wear the biggest smile, and wait outside to congratulate your child before she enters or when she leaves.

If in fact your kid or ex doesn’t want you there, try to connect with your child beforehand and congratulate him. You can also give him a gift at that time, too. As the parent, it’s important that you respect your child’s feelings while letting him know you still love and support him; and if there are issues between you and your ex, do your best to rise above it. If you feel it is best for you not to be there (because there is always a backstory), then trust yourself. Still show up beforehand and congratulate your kid.

3) Contact the other parent. Pride goeth before destruction. Swallow your pride and let your ex know that you would love to be there to support your son/daughter. Remember there are graduation fees (e.g,. cap and gown, tickets, etc.) that need to be split by both parents. If you are unable to afford to help with these fees, let the other parent know. The worst thing a parent can do is choose not to help with fees, don’t communicate, and act as if she deserves a ticket. If this is the case for you, don’t be surprised if you don’t get a ticket and prepare for the possibility of greeting your child before or after the ceremony.

4) Act like an adult. If you and your ex or son/daughter have negative feelings toward each other, set them aside, if only for one day. Smile and hold in your mind that moment you fell in love with your child. It could be when he or she were born or when it hit you that you were his/her role model.

I hope this was helpful. As always, please share this blog with others as you never know who could benefit from reading it.

Are there any other tips you would like to offer our readers on how blended families can work together? Please share them in the comments!

With love and light … pleasant journeys to you and your family.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHt.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHt.

Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at digitalpitches@ebony.com. We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. 

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Specializing in psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, and personality development, Jinnie has a nearly 90% success rate with her clients.  Sign up for Jinnie’s High Achiever newsletter here or join her on Facebook and Twitter!