Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Daughter's Graduation


QUESTION: My daughter is graduating HS and does not want her stepfather there. But it's ok if her stepmother is there when she is the one who wrecked my marriage to her father but her father told my daughter that I was the one who broke it off and yes I did because he was cheating on me for three years! Well I got remarried and so did he but she seems to think I am at fault and blames me for everything. This has been going on for 10 years now...what do I do?

ANSWER: Dear Jane:

Divorces are difficult, not just at the time but especially when there are new spouses introduced into the children's lives.  It's unfortunate that your daughter is so easily influenced by your ex-husband but there is no magic that will fix that except for maturity and learning about the real world on her own.

In the meantime, the issue here is about whether you should go to your daughter's graduation without your husband.  The best answer is yes.  Your husband should be used to your daughter's feelings about him by now and though he may have his feelings hurt, for her sake he needs to take a low profile and not force the issue.  It will never get better if he does.  What he should do is write a letter of congratulations to her expressing his pride in her accomplishment and how he wishes he and she could have a friendly relationship and how much he hopes for the best for her future.  (kill with kindness).  What will happen is either she will blow it off, rip up the letter and throw it away - leaving you and your husband in the same position as before. OR... she will read it, process it, put the letter away to read again sometime and become a bit more civil to him the next time they meet.

With that said, I believe you should also get over the past hurt by realizing our lives are quite short and every day you hold bitterness towards your ex and his new wife and your daughter for "taking sides", you are wasting your own precious time.  Be civil towards the new wife and your ex, don't sit with them at the graduation, celebrate with your daughter away from them and in your own way.  Don't let them steal from you any more of your emotion and time.  You have given away enough by now.  Just be sweet to your daughter the best you can, keep the conversation light, mention that your husband wishes he could have joined in the celebration but perhaps another time.

You take the high road.  You will see that the road isn't all that rocky and dark when you do.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Follow up...she told my dad who called me today to tell me that she does not want her father, stepmother or stepfather at the lunch that my parents want to host after graduation. My father told me to "do the right thing" and not bring my husband at all and it is my daughter's day and it would be wrong to bring him with us. This is all 2 days before we are supposed to leave. Why not have said something 2 months ago when all this was planned?

Dear Jane - I hope things worked out at the graduation and peace was maintained in your family.
Remember that you can't control how others will feel or act, only yourself.  You will always be right by being the kind and empathetic one in the group.  

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

Past/Present Clients
World Bank, United Nations,US Dept. of State, US. Dept. of the Army, Pentagon, Barclays Global Investors,Accenture,Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, The White House, Dept. of State, AT&T,Bank of America,American Association of Clinical Pharmacies,Ritz Carlton Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels,Starwood Hotels,and many more.

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