My biological son, 26, will soon be graduating college and my wife (his step-mom) and I are throwing him a graduation party. My wife and I have had a very difficult time with his mother and her husband.

We "enjoyed" a very Jerry Springer like moment with them yelling and screaming on our front lawn a couple of years ago. His mother refers to my wife as "the incarnation of evil". Given that the divorce is old (13 years ago) and all financial obligations were over, to the satisfaction of the court, over 4 years ago, my wife and I were hoping the angst would die down.

But it hasn't; his mother still feels a great deal of hate for both my wife and I. While I understand that there are strong feelings behind this rage/hate I am not sure what I can do to mitigate them. And really how much control can one have over another's feelings?

In most ways I could care less. I would love to be civil with the mom and step-dad for the sake of my son. But given their past behavior, I just don't want to be around them. I don't want to pay to entertain them or even be in the same room with them. If it was just a public place, I would just leave.

Any advice on how I would broach this subject with my son?


I did have the talk with my son, and he let her know she was not invited to the party. As an olive branch I encouraged him to spend time with her after graduation but before the party, and they did. They also spent the night before together, and they could then use the excuse of getting back to their home (8 hour drive) to not attend the party.

She is also a "Shiite Christian" (my son's words) very religious. We had the party at a brewery which would also give her another excuse for not attending.

In the end it all worked out okay and they even refused to say hello to us on graduation day. My son started law school and we are closer then ever.

  • 5
    Agree with @Stephie. "Son, I'd like to hear your thoughts on something that's been on my mind..." Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 20:46

2 Answers 2


The fact that your son will be graduating indicates that he's probably intelligent. I'm sure that he knows about his mother's feelings and past actions.

At a graduation party, you are celebrating his academic acchievement and maturity. So why not talk to him as one adult to another? Be honest, ask for his opinion and feelings. You won't be able to exclude your ex-wife from the official graduation, but you can choose whom to invite to your home or your party.

  • NP with the ceremony as the venue is very large. The reason why I know about "the incarnation of hell" comment is he told us, so yea he knows first hand. He has a decent amount of relationship intelligence, so yea sitting down and talking with him will do the trick. My wife and I have always been very careful with our children not to bad mouth the ex's which was my main concern.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 9:17

Your son will be graduating and you want to give him a graduation party. Is your son involved in the planning? I hope so! I hope you checked, first of all, to see if he likes the idea?

If he has accepted your kind offer, and is involved in the planning, then I hope he is working with you on developing the guest list.

Developing a guest list together can be a fun project.

You may have some differences of opinion on whom to invite. That will make for interesting conversations.

I think that might be the best framework for doing productive thinking and communicating about the "to invite mother or not to invite mother" question.

I understand your feelings (I mean, you described the situation, and your feelings well). At the same time, I hope we can agree that not all parental feelings are appropriate to share with one's child, even one's adult child. Your son is entitled to his own relationship with his mother, and is entitled to have his own mix of feelings.

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