Auntie SparkNotes: My Grandparents Are Making Me Choose Between Them
Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
I'll just get straight to the point- my grandparents are divorced. This is okay, as they divorced and my grandfather remarried before I was even born.
The problem is that both refuse to come to my high school graduation if the other is there.
I graduate in 6 weeks, and they want me to choose which grandparent I want to attend. I have no idea what to do. I love them both equally, and want them both to go. I go to a very large school and will be graduating with over 600 other students, so a crowd of well over 1500 people will attend, filling our football stadium so that people are sitting in every open spot, including the floor of the stadium. It can definitely be arranged that they won't even see each other, just like they haven't for the past 20 years.
I don't know how to handle this; they did the same to my older brothers who tried their hardest to convince them to come but they refused. According to this track record, I know they'll ignore my pleas, too. I can't think of what to do about this, and am considering just not inviting either of them because I would feel so guilty leaving the other out. If you have any idea how to handle this situation, please respond.
Here’s how to handle this situation: Like a motherfranking adult.
Or, in this case, like the only motherfranking adult in a room of people who are beyond old enough to know better. In all honesty, it’s a little bit shocking that two people who’ve reached AARP member status could still have the energy, let alone the interest, to stir up this kind of ridiculous middle-school drama—and that your parents are... what? Just standing around while you and your brothers get caught in the crossfire? (Seriously, dude, does every grownup in your family suffer from congenital immaturity?)
But anyway: since your grandparents have, indeed, decided to approach their longstanding grudge with all the elegance of a pair of squabbling eighth grader—and since your parents, apparently, have decided not to do their duty by stepping in and saying “enough”—it’s on you to play the grownup.
The good news is, it'll be quick. In fact, doing the right thing requires just one conversation with each grandparent, in which you deliver the following, identical message:
I’m not getting in the middle of this. I love you, and I want you to be there when I graduate. Whether you choose to come or not is up to you, but I’m not going to pick sides in this conflict between you and Other Grandparent. You are both invited, and I hope very much you’ll attend.
And if the grandparent in question still refuses to come, then:
I’m sorry to hear that. You’ll be missed.
That’s where you’ll stand, and no matter what, that’s where you’ll stay: in a position of loving neutrality, having given your grandparents the chance to do the right thing. Because you can’t make someone else behave with maturity and decency; you can only make it so that if they don’t, it’ll be for no other reason than that they chose not to. So deliver your message, leave the door open, and keep your fingers crossed that they'll walk through it.
And if they want to value their ridiculous grudge over the chance to support you at graduation? That’s their call—and their loss.
Have you ever been put in the middle of a family conflict? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related post: Auntie SparkNotes: When Elderlies Attack