Is it OK to skip a graduation party?
The Parent 'Hood: Navigating a multitude of graduation parties
You and your high schooler are invited to 8,000 graduation parties (seemingly). Is it bad form to skip some?
Parent advice (from our panel of staff contributors):
Grad parties tend to be open-house events, so dropping by all of them is probably not difficult. I'm pretty sure my wife and I attended every party to which we were invited, slipping checks to the happy grads, knowing that at my kids' parties, most if not all of that dough would come flowing back. But if the number of parties is unworkable, pull your kid aside and say, "Look, $XX is my grad-present budget. How shall we divvy it up?" And let the checks fall where they may.
— Phil Vettel
If the kid wants to celebrate this big event at multiple parties, why not? Kids don't have to give gifts. If there are gifts involved, the adults should pay for them.
— Ellen Warren
You can see how this happens. You're marching along, raising your kids, bonding with their pals, shuttling various groups to various practices and, suddenly, what the ... they're all grown up! And graduating from high school! And they want you to help them celebrate!
Fortunately, attending their parties is not the only way to honor their accomplishments.
"There's no way you can get to every party," says Patricia Rossi, author of "Everyday Etiquette: How to Navigate 101 Common and Uncommon Social Situations" (St. Martin's Griffin). "Pick three good friends, and put your energy into attending those parties as a family."
It's tempting to go with a divide-and-conquer method: assigning a kid to one party, a parent to another party, another parent to another party and so on. But is that really how you want to spend your summer weekends?
"It's important to enjoy these celebrations as a family," says Rossi, a mom of two. "Otherwise we become disgruntled and not fully there. We have one foot in and one foot out. If you all pick three and attend them together, you can do so with your full heart and full attention.
"It's also good to teach kids that we have to make choices. That's a great life skill."
For the invitations you turn down, etiquette doesn't dictate sending a gift, Rossi says. However, a card with an extended, personal note is always a good idea.
"Our words are so powerful," says Rossi. "Don't just send off an email, but sit down and write two to three paragraphs that will always stick with them. The money gets spent, but you never forget what a person writes to you."
Especially if you have some words of wisdom to impart.
"I think back to when I was graduating from high school," Rossi says. "I didn't know what I really wanted to do with my life until I was almost 30. You look at these kids, and they're sort of like deer in the headlights."
A little advice, then, might mean far more than your attendance at a crowded party.
Have a solution? Your daughter earned a spot on a high school team with two girls who bullied her in the past. Should you warn the coach, or hope this is a new beginning? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.