Saturday, June 16, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Graduation sets up a battle of the exes

Carolyn Hax is on leave. This column ran previously.

Q: My daughter "Brooke" is a senior in high school. Her mother and I have been separated six years and divorced for three. We maintain a cordial relationship and I am allowed great visitation.

I have had a girlfriend for 18 months, "Michelle." We plan on moving in together in April, and I fully expect to invite her to Brooke's graduation ceremony and a party I am hosting and paying for. My ex-wife adamantly states I cannot bring my girlfriend. I think she may use her position as the parent who lives with my daughter to influence Brooke to agree. I don't think Brooke cares. She has met my girlfriend many times and spent the night at her house.

How do I handle this situation? Am I being unreasonable?

M.

A: No. Divorced couples who remain connected as co-parents eventually have to accept each other's new partners, for the kids' sake if nothing else: They need to see you both let go of grudges, even the legitimate ones.

Because this is your daughter's celebration, not yours, and because your ex-wife's adamance suggests unhealed wounds, the decent move is to try peacemaking first.

Have you asked why your ex is so insistent?: "May I ask why the strong objection?"

Then listen. Give empathy a chance.

Then, assuming you don't get the answer you want from your ex, you drop it: "I'll let this rest, and try seeing it from your perspective. I hope you'll do the same for me." Then use these months to be the model of cooperation vs. I'm-right exasperation.

Or, a compromise: Don't bring Michelle and be clear it's the only time you'll exclude. Why? Because a kid's rite of passage is a lousy time for parents to road-test their contentious, new-partner reality for the first time. You'll still be right next time.

Comments

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy news confirms estrangement

Q: I just found out my son and his wife are going to be parents. I’m very excited and somewhat confused and a little hurt: She’s seven months along. I don’t know why the long wait to tell me. They live in another state, and I haven’t seen them in abo...
Published: 06/15/18

Tell Me About It: Sister must face her poor choices in men

Q: Last night, I received my umpteenth call from my sobbing, devastated sister (mid-20s) over yet another semi-hookup-flirty-thing guy that didn’t work out. He is moving away and she found out via an announcement at work, not from him.This is a years...
Published: 06/15/18
High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

A gliding, wraith-like figure of a Dementor from the Harry Potter films enters Central Park, and the exteriors of the surrounding buildings immediately are covered in a layer of ice, a sign of their power to drain happiness out of the air around them...
Published: 06/14/18
Things to do this weekend: Father’s Day, Maroon 5, The Illusionists, Mr. Rogers film, fireworks at Busch Gardens

Things to do this weekend: Father’s Day, Maroon 5, The Illusionists, Mr. Rogers film, fireworks at Busch Gardens

HolidayFather’s Day: Sunday brings us a day to honor the guy who cheered us on, called us down and blamed us for his bald spot. It’s Father’s Day! A number of local attractions are offering free admission for dads if at least one ungrateful progeny t...
Published: 06/14/18

Tell Me About It: Group resists suggestion of sober vacation

Q: I have a friend I have known since high school who has recently been in recovery for drinking. He is about six weeks into an outpatient system and has been doing well. A group of friends including my friend in recovery have been going on two campi...
Published: 06/14/18
Top things to do this week: Father’s Day freebies, Summer Circus Spectacular, Gelatin Plunge

Top things to do this week: Father’s Day freebies, Summer Circus Spectacular, Gelatin Plunge

NOTE: This item has been updated to reflect the correct start time of 7 p.m.SQUISHY: Gelatin PlungeRaise money for a cancer charity and you, too, could plummet down a slide into more than 2,000 gallons of orange gelatin before a party with live music...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/15/18
‘Incredibles 2’ just might be better than the original — and a cure to superhero fatigue

‘Incredibles 2’ just might be better than the original — and a cure to superhero fatigue

It’s been 14 years since the premiere of Brad Bird’s beloved animated superhero film The Incredibles, one of the mega-hit Pixar films that cemented its reputation for film humor and heart that would satisfy both parents and children. With cool mid-ce...
Published: 06/13/18
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Maroon 5, Joan Jett, Styx and more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Maroon 5, Joan Jett, Styx and more

MANY VOICES: Maroon 5Remember when Adam Levine crooned the hook on Kanye West’s 2005 single Heard ’Em Say? Feels like a lifetime ago; it’s hard to imagine ’Ye and the Maroon 5 frontman booking studio time together in 2018. Or at least, it would be, i...
Published: 06/13/18
5 things to do under $5: Dive-In Movies, Studio@620 birthday party, 71-cent burgers at Hard Rock

5 things to do under $5: Dive-In Movies, [email protected] birthday party, 71-cent burgers at Hard Rock

1Happy Birthday [email protected]: The community artists’ collective is celebrating its 14th birthday Saturday, with a free party at the perfectly timed 6:20 p.m. The little studio in downtown St. Petersburg puts on an array of art shows, concerts and...
Published: 06/13/18

Tell Me About It: Husband’s ‘compromise’ feels like control

Q: My parents live fairly close, but my brother and family are a plane ride away. They will be up at my parents’ house in a few days. My husband has limits to how much time he can spend with my family — really with anyone, as he is very introverted —...
Published: 06/13/18