Mother's Day Dilema with Kids

Updated on May 10, 2011
J.J. asks from Milwaukee, WI
28 answers

So for Mother's Day my teens would rather go to their aunts graduation in a different state with their father and step mother & family. I was told by them that they were going and then my son said "we're not going now because it's Mother's Day and we come back to your house that day" (it's their dad's weekend). I didn't know they still wanted to go. I've been thinking of things we could do that day already. Personally I was going to go somewhere that weekend but changed my plans because I knew it was my day with my kids. My daughter just said "I can't believe you're not letting us go to the graduation." I was like "what"? They never see this aunt so I didn't know it was a big deal to them. Now what do I do? Do I let them go and let them think that it's alright to ditch their mom on Mother's Day and feel hurt that they aren't with me? If this happens once they will think it doesn't matter in the future years. I know my kids. I'm on the fence about this one. I asked them "what if someone had something going on in my family on Father's Day, would you feel bad about not going to see your dad that day?" I am not trying to make them feel guilty but to recognize their priorities. Now a graduation is something special also so that's why I'm not sure what to do. Please don't be harsh on me. It has nothing to do with them going with their father it's just that it's Mother's Day. My niece is getting confirmed that weekend also and that is a very important day but I thought I would let them stay with their dad instead of coming back home. They are 13 and 16. I can do something with my younger child and husband. Many times my older two miss family events because they aren't with me that weekend and I do not make them come home. My youngest child misses out on the older brother /sister thing as well. I think all 3 of them should be together with me on this day. I also don't want to let them think that they can throw a fit and get their way like they do ALL THE TIME. I am not trying to make them feel guilty but realize that it's an important day for our family as well. The aunt is in her 30's with children and graduating from college that she started back in the 90's and just finally finished.

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So What Happened?

Hazel W
I just want you to know that I think what you wrote was terrible! I don't see disappointment in my children. I do so much for them and take great care of them. I don't think the whole thing is about seeing their aunt. It's about going on a trip. Maybe if they didn't come home from their last trip saying she was a stripper I would feel more confident about their visit with her. If she is disappointed that they are not there it is her fault for not realizing it is Mother's Day weekend and they would most likely be with their mother on that day. I mean hello she's a mother and will have her kids there with her. Does she ever come to visit my children? No. I think their father should enforce to them that it is Mom's Day and they can go see auntie another time.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with Robin....

Model respect for their decision (esp. is they are older teens) and it will teach them respect toward you. Don't guilt trip them... just plan a celebration on another Sunday. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

If it were me, I'd try to remember that A. Mother's Day *does* come every year; B. A graduation comes once every so rarely often and C. a calendar does not have to determine 'when' you celebrate Mother's Day with your family.

You are their mother; that said,you are the oldest person in this specific equation, and might consider modeling some problem-solving so that your kids aren't at a total loss with either you or their aunt. What a horrible situation for them to feel they must choose to not hurt their mother by 'ditching' their aunt, who was likely excited they were coming.

If you take a big step back, two events were "scheduled" by other entities: the school scheduled the graduation on this specific day. We don't know why, and it might have been the decision of some gray-haired academic or principal who doesn't observe Mother's Day, who knows. Mother's Day, too, is arbitrarily chosen for the calendar, but there's nothing celestially magical on that particular day.

If it were me, I'd let them know that you appreciate their tough situation and give them an easy out. Think of it this way: It's ONE year. You asked:

"Do I let them go and let them think that it's alright to ditch their mom on Mother's Day and feel hurt that they aren't with me? If this happens once they will think it doesn't matter in the future years. I know my kids."

Is it really that 'either/or' for you? Can you say "Gee, this is really a hard situation, kids. I'd love to spend the day with you, but this year I can see it's just not going to work. Next year, however, is OUR year." My guess is that if you don't make it so much about them "choosing auntie over mom", then they won't feel *forced* to choose, and that's significant in our relationships with our children. If you expect that your kids are going to disappoint you in future years over this, than yes, that will likely happen, and that's likely going to be due to you perception and projections. If you also consider that they are teens--not adults-- and still need help through these kinds of social situations, you have the advantage. They can learn that Mom's got some flexibility, isn't intractable, and appreciates the situation that's been forced upon them. That, in my opinion, would make you MORE inviting and appealing to them. Truthfully, who wants to go spend time with someone who is already declaring their disappointment in them, for a choice they had zero control over? If I were a kid, I'd feel relieved that my mother understood, appreciated my helplessness within the situation, and wasn't mad. And I wouldn't be avoiding the Mother's Day when we rescheduled it. Instead, I'd love her all the more for understanding and not making us feel horrible about it.

Added: I was in no way trying to say that you see disappointment in your children presently. What I was saying is that you already seem to feel that there would be some precedent of "it's not important" set in their heads and that "it won't matter in future years". What I was trying to say is that if that is your expectation, it's likely that that you *will* be disappointed in the future. It sounds, though, from your further comments, that there are other issues at play and at this point, I bow out of the conversation.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Your kids probably are not dying to go to their aunt's graduation but they probably think it would be really fun to travel out of state, stay at a hotel and eat a lot of their meals out. It is a mini vacation for them and something different to do. Personally, if my kids treat me right the rest of the year I would not get hung up on the fact that it is Mother's Day. I would celebrate Mother's Day another weekend. Change back your plans to whatever you were going to do that day w/out your kids. JMO :0)

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Lake Charles on

I guess I'm the odd Mom out here, I don't put much significance on mother's, father's, or valentine's day. I always do something nice for my husband on father's day but it isn't this ordeal that we plan out.. I guess we just reserve celebrations for birthdays, christmas and halloween (ha). Even anniversaries aren't huge in our household (we celebrate our love daily!). Let them go because chances are at that age they will always remember you not letting them go (versus one of the 13-16 mothers days theyve celebrated thus far.) You said it was the dad's weekend anyway, I'd probably put more fuss if it was my weekend to begin with but I guarantee they won't enjoy "celebrating" with you if they really want to watch auntie graduate... celebrate early and let them know you hope they have fun!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I may change my mind when my son gets older (he's 4), but though I do like to have a card and a little something, I'm not tied to the day itself regcognition-wise. I do think it's nice that moms be recognized, but I think it's more important to have respect the other 364 days. The following weekend is yours with the kids. Make THAT your Mother's Day weekend - fewer crowds, etc. It's the people that make the day special, not the date.

And heck, since the kids are away, you can treat YOURSELF for Mothers Day - mani, pedi, massage, etc. That sounds like a nice treat to me :)

Here's some interesting background on the day :)'s_Day

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answers from Minneapolis on

I think JC is 100% right. They have an opportunity to travel, they want to go. I would let them go. Why get hung up over one day? Mother's day is just a hallmark holiday anyway. Whatever quality time or fun plans you want to make with them can be scheduled any weekend. They can't reschedule the graduation. I honestly feel for kids with divorced parents, the guilt and expectations that certain exact holidays be reserved for certain family members is a lot ot carry around. You'll all be happier if your a little more flexible.

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answers from Cumberland on

Well-Mother's Day is a way of setting aside a day to make sure that it is followed and celebrated to the best of everyone's ability. But there's no reason not to set aside a different Sunday-to celebrate your own Mother's Day. When children graduate and get confirmed and participate in rites that we create for them-they gain respect and appreciation for the importance of these events-then they pass along the traditions and in that way, they honor us as mothers. By them attending-they are living according to what they have been taught and shown-they're doing it to honor you.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I agree with J.C.
Pick another Sunday. You can still have a special day with your daughter at home and do something out of the ordinary if you want to... just be up front about the fact that you are "celebrating Mother's Day on __ (the next Sunday or whatever day)" and let that be it. Teenagers often just want a little control. It's especially hard for kids that split weekends with mom/dad because they feel a significant lack of control of themselves and their time.
I'd bend on this one.. it isn't worth the battle and none of you will feel much like celebrating if you are only together b/c of a fight.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Their aunt only graduates once (probably). Mother's Day is every year. I think people always make too big a deal out of it anyway. It's really just another day. We always go to the zoo or something fun. My older daughter sometimes splits her time between me and her boyfriends' mom. I don't care. I know I'm loved and appreciated always -- not just on Mother's Day. Let your kids go to the graduation. ENCOURAGE them to go. That's being a good mom

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answers from San Diego on

Personally, I think you should let them ago. There were mothers days before the graduation and there will be more. Why not pick your own mothers day when its the kids time with you. We do that in our home because I usually work on Holidays. For instance, we have "our" valentines day on 02/17 instead of 02/16 and we usually have "our" thanksgiving a week ahead so that we can visit extended family on Thanksgiving. My mothers day will probably be on the Tuesday after the actual mothers day.

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answers from Austin on

Be lady Gracious and allow them to go.

Mothers Day can be any day they are with you. That is the way I felt about our daughter. Just having her here is wonderful each day.

Let them know you will put it off for a week this year, besides, everywhere will be packed with other families.

Watching a person graduate even though it took them a while can be a nice visual for any teen.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

This isn't about "going to see Auntie" as you put it in your reply to Hazel W. It's about going to see Auntie on the one and only graduation day. I agree with the posters who noted that there will be a Mother's Day every year but a graduation is a one-time event.

And unless you can show that the auntie intentionally persuaded her school to schedule her graduation on Mother's Day weekend just to spite and frustrate you...don't hold the kids responsible for a scheduling conflict over which they have no control.

You can model flexibility for them in this circumstance, or you can model inflexibility. Which trait would you rather they learn?

Why the intense focus on Mother's Day? It's pleasant but not a make-or-break holiday where the world stops for every mom. Ask yourself, is this rooted in the fact they're now older kids who are making their own choices about where to be sometimes, and those choices don't always end up being what you'd prefer?

What will happen when there's a Christmas or New Year's Eve or Valentine's Day or one of their own birthdays or your birthday when you decide you want them with you and it's dad's day? Or it's your day but they want to go to a friend's house on Christmas afternoon, or go on a date on Valentine's Day? How you react -- or over-react -- this time sets a precedent for how you and they will handle these conflicts, which will certainly happen again in the future.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Visalia on

let them go see the aunt and other family from the dads side. going out of state trip seems fun to them, more so than the aunts graduation.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on


I understand your dilema and the situation with your kids. I my opinion, Mother's Day should be EVERY day not just one day that kids make their mom's feel special. I think its more or less a halmark holiday and so I would encourage your kids to go to Auntie's graduation. Tell them that you would love to celebrate Mother's Day with them when they come back. Don't guilt trip etc. That will never work--enjoy the day and do something for yourself. When you get together with your kids, you can be pampered and loved on again! Good luck!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rapid City on

I totally understand how you would want your children on Mother's day and I understand them wanting to go on a trip to the graduation also, especially if they don't see their aunt very often. I don't think the aunt planned the graduation being on Mother's day, it is usually the school that picks the day. If you want them all with you on mothers day, then keep them with you. I am a true believer in compromising though and I would plan a nice Mother's day dinner or doing something either the weekend before or when they get back, that way they could do both going to the graduation and celebrating Mother's day with you. My daughter in law and son were pretty good about working things out like that and we are very thankful for it because my daughter in law let him have their daughter the weekend of her (my daughter in laws) birthday, even though it wasn't his weekend and that it was her birthday. She did it because she knew that their daughter really was missing her daddy and she loves going to Church with me. My son worked out of town during the week so weekends were the only time she got to see daddy. As it turned out, my son died in a car accident just 6 days later and that was the last weekend she ever got to spend with him. I had video taped them playing together and that is priceless.

It is truly up to you on which way to go on this and I know you will make a decision that you feel is the right one. That, as parents is all we can do.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Madison on

In looking at some of the responses and how you responded to Hazel's response, there is obviously some other issues at play here. So what are they? Honestly, if it were me, I'd follow Hazel's advice and be the flexible one and go out and have a nice spa weekend, but that's just me - my idea of Mother's Day is that it's MY day - I spend it how I want, and damn it! Momma needs a massage! =)

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answers from Los Angeles on

I don't think that a 13 and a 16 year old would really care that much about being present at their aunt's graduation. I agree that it's probably other reasons they want to go (fun trip, seeing cousins, eating out, etc). Kids can be self-centred and are probably concentrating on themselves, without thinking how their choice will be hurtful to their mother. I think only once they grow up, and maybe have children of their own that they will understand how their actions affect your feelings. I think it's called lack of emotional intelligence.

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answers from Wausau on

I agree with everything Hazel W said, and the other moms who said pick another day to celebrate Mother's Day. I am sure it is complicated working out holidays when there are complicated family and relationship issues. I sympathize with you on that. However, you have an opportunity to use this occasion to be a model of grace, maturity and flexibility. Or you can be inflexible and insist that you get your way. Your choice.

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answers from Rochester on

Teenagers are just trying to find their own identity and independence. I bet if they had the choice and didn't feel guilted into it, they may choose to be with you. Whether you mean it or not, I'm sure they feel a little guilty cause us mom's aren't that good at hiding our disappointment/expectations. If not, you can arrange to celebrate with them on another day. Something like, "I'd really like you to be there, but I understand if you want to go to your aunt's graduation. But it's your choice and I'm fine either way." Maybe suggest you celebrate your mother's day with them on another day and have dinner with them that day, etc. That's what happens when it's someone's birthday and there's two different sides of the family that want to celebrate. There are multiple celebrations and sometimes all of them not on the actual day.

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answers from Dover on

Since it is Dad's weekend, when would they normally come home from that weekend? Will they still be returning as scheduled? just not in time for time w/ Mom on Mother's Day?

I too would want me time with my kids on Mother's Day. One thought would be that you let them go and say something like "it is your dad's weekend and your aunt is graduating so I will let you go but next Sunday is "our Mother's Day" so plan to spend it with me. Then schedule a spa day for yourself on the real Mother's Day.

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answers from Des Moines on

I have a 16 and 19 year old and have had the same situation. I can tell you that in the teenage years most kids DONT want to spend much time with their parents, there thinking how much fun the trip will be so dont take it personally and let them go.
I think it you make them spend the day with you they will be sulky and you wont be able to enjoy family time anyway...
Just remember that they love you and enjoy YOUR day with or without your children being there.
Happy Mothers Day!

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answers from Tucson on

I agree with you, but if they stay and dont want to be there, they may ruin your day. Hope you have a wonderful mothers day!

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answers from Washington DC on

How old are the teens? If they are older then tell them how you feel.
If they are 16,17,18 then yes let then make their own decisions.
INstead of being grumpy and giving them a guilt trip, start treating them as young adults. It's what they want and they can handle that now.
You can tell them Yes it's Mother's Day I would love for you to stay here. But this is your dad's weekend. If you would rather go to your dad's fine.

Let it be their decision.

And honestly, in my opinion Dad should have put his foot down and told them Oh heck no! No wedding for you, it's Mother's Day, I''ll see you next week.

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answers from Milwaukee on

It's your day! Your kids should be there to celebrate their love for YOU!!! Don't feel bad or guilty, you're obviously a great mom and trying to do the best thing, but really this is your day and it's time to allow yourself to have this :)



answers from Minneapolis on

My mother is a waitress and has worked every Mother's Day since I can remember. So, we celebrate it another day. Not a big deal.

It is unfair of you to put them into the position of chosing between you and going on a trip with their father. Don't be selfish, just have your Mother's Day celebration on another day.



answers from Los Angeles on

Mother's Day is not about that day for me, it is 365 days we need to love and honor our mothers'. Family events are what are important. Next wknd when it is your weekend, have an hororary mothers day dinner with all your kids. You need to be fair you have a split family now and need to share your children, that is their father. When you have a special occasion on his wknd he needs to let the kids come to your other younger childs events. it is give and take I agree if they were to come to your house they would be unhappy. I had a sad mothers day being torn between my husbands family and mine, yet mine were only in town for this week and wouldn't be back till sometime next year, so it wasn't about "mother's day" to me, just time with my parents, yet my husband who never cares about mothers day insisted this year we had to be with his mom. overall who cares about the day we need to be respected for what we do all year and events are what matters, hope you enjoyed the day, what happened?



answers from Minneapolis on

I think the question to ask yourself is will it be a pleasant day for you if they are forced to stay home? If not would it be better to celebrate before they leave or after they get back. Mothers day is not an histroical date it is merely a date set to remind kids (both young and old) to take a moment and thank thier moms for the sacrifices they made. That can be done on any old day:-)
My mom lives many states away - the fact I cannot be with her on mothers day does not mean I love her any less; it merely means we celebrate holidays in a non-traditinal way. I will call on mothers day and take her to dinner to celebrate her last couple birthdays, thanksgivings, and christmas's when I see her this summer.
I have a child in his 20's now and he has to work on mothers day. He worked last mothers day as well. He also missed a couple mothers day celebrations growing up due to sporting events ect... While I would have prefered to have them all together I understand there are things in life that can seperate us on any given occasion and that it is not personal. I know how hard it is to let them go and it can even feel as though they are choosing an activy over you, but I assure in hindsight they will remember the sacrifices you made for them and will appreciate you for it. I would recommend removing the hurt feelings from the picture and celebrate Mothers day 2 times. First with your little one who is still at home and again with the whole family when the kids get back. Then they can tell you all about thier trip and with any luck it will be a more joyous occasion:-)
I hope this helps. Good luck whichever way you choose to go. You are not wrong with either decision.



answers from Milwaukee on

Let them go and just enjoy your day.

If your Mom is still alive and well, why don't you two go and enjoy a spa day or maybe with your mother in law.

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