By Susan K. Thomas
© 2014 Diversity Rules Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.

thomasSusan K. Thomas is a lecturer in English at the University of Kansas where she spreads the good gay word through LGBT literature and first year composition courses. She is currently researching the impact of HIV/AIDS on the LGBT community in Kansas. She has two cats, Hannah and Hamlet (Ham). 

Q. My fiancé Christopher and I are planning our wedding for May 2014. Both our families have been completely supportive of us. The problem is my mother, who hates my father. My dad left her when I was about 10 (I’m 28 now). He was an absent father for a couple of years, but has been back in our lives since I was about 15 (My sisters and I have all made amends with him). Anyway, my mom says she won’t come to the wedding if my dad is invited. I want to keep the peace, but this is causing both me and my partner a lot of stress. Robert

A. Well, Robert, hopefully you’re willing to hear some truths today. This is NOT your mother’s wedding. You and your partner can invite who you want. I don’t care who is paying for the wedding, who has been most supportive, etc. YOUR wedding, YOUR guest list. You and your partner might try to sit down with her and explain that you both love her and want her at the wedding, but that you both also value your father and how much you want him there. Hopefully she can put aside her differences for one day.

Now, you have to hear what you may not want to, which is that your mother may not come to your wedding if your father attends. This is a truth. Your mother is obviously still hurt by the divorce and what she possibly feels as your dad’s abandonment of the family. This is her wound and not yours. Clearly you feel strongly about having both parents at this life event, which is understandable. But, you must also consider that her attending might lead to unnecessary drama. We all like to think that adults can behave appropriately, but sometimes hurt and pain can surface at the most inopportune time.

There are things that you can do to help reassure your mother about attending this event in your father’s presence. Obviously seat them at separate tables (and hopefully) out of each other’s sight-line. Hopefully your sisters and other family members can help keep your mother distracted and away from your father. Show both of your parents respect and kindness throughout the event, but also remember that this is your day and people should be focusing their attention on you and your new husband.

Also, make sure to discuss logistics such as photography in advance of the wedding. If your mother doesn’t want your father at the wedding, she more than likely won’t take a picture with him, either. Speak with both parents as well as the photographer about how to approach these additional issues. In addition, make sure that you show your mother the wording for the wedding invitations before posting them. There are numerous options for proper wording of a wedding invitation in these situations.

Finally, Robert, your wedding day is about you and Christopher. You may need to make some difficult decisions in order to keep the peace in your family. If your mother can’t agree to play nice, she just may need to stay home. Hopefully she comes around and realizes that the day is not about her. Congratulations to you and your partner, and keep me posted.

“inQUEERies” is an interactive column.  Readers are encouraged to submit questions for Susan to answer!

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