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My niece informed me that she only had 7 tickets for her
graduation and stated I would be receiving one of them. When
her invite arrived, it only stated place of reception without
the ''golden ticket'' to the graduation. I called her and asked
her and she stated her cousin was flying in from out of town and
that she'd be taking my ticket instead and that I shouldn't even
try to give her a guilt trip like her father who wasn't going to
be able to bring his wife, either, because of the lack of
tickets. I stated I was simply calling seeking clarification.
I also stated I felt hurt because she stated I would
specifically receive a ticket. This niece is a niece who I have
loved and cherished throught years and have helped her many a
time with her homework assignments esp with strict and last-
minute deadlines through many years of her school years. Her
mom and I are close but I overheard her mom say she'll just have
to get over it because my niece is flying in from the East
Coast. My niece then stated she'd try to get me a ticket so I
could go to the function. After our phone call, I cried tears
of disappointment b/c I simply felt slapped in the face and set
aside like garbage. Two weeks go by and I waited each day for
the mail and nothing comes. I decided to send my niece a
graduation card stating my best wishes and making it clear I had
to accept the fact I was not invited. The day of the function,
my niece and niece's mother call stating they had ''one ticket''
and that they expected me to come. I couldn't help feeling that
the cousin from the East Coast couldn't make it. I told my
niece that I waited and waited for the mail and in the end
figured I'd make plans with my kids. Niece reminded me that she
was going to get me a ticket but I stated that she never
bothered to call out of courtesy so I wouldn't make plans. In
the end, I made plans with my family and took them to the
Oakland Zoo. I told her I would not be able to make it
afterall, that I loved her, and wished her good wishes for her
graduation. I felt really sad after our call but believed I did
the right thing or did I? Was I wrong in not attending or
should I have attended regardless?
You sound like you must care deeply about this niece - my
sister, likewise, loves my two daughters and is very generous
with them, goes way out of her way to play and take care of
them and help me out and they are young. I can't imagine her
not being there when they have important events like
graduation. So i can imagine you were extremely hurt by this
situation - and perhaps how they dealt with it - ie not telling
you very directly etc.
however, i must remind you - that you are the adult in this
situation and your niece's MOTHER - your sister or sister in
law? should have communicated the situation with you - not just
your niece. I think you are being too hard on the niece since
it is not at all likely that she made these decisions on her
if it were me, i would have gone - only because you can't
rewind and go back to something like a graduation - there won't
be another high school graduation - and now it is marred with
an unpleasant memory. if i were you - i would try to schedule
a special lunch or dinner and make sure you two have something
happy to remember it by. and next time take a big picture view
and see how you can further contribute to your niece's
learning - about how to negotiate difficult situations in life,
since apparently, she didn't get good coaching this time
around! you can tell her how and why your feelings were hurt -
but don't put all the blame on her - but she can then learn
what not to do next time...but i would also apologize for
reacting so harshly and likely also hurting her feelings.
be the bigger person, cuz you are!
I am sorry that your feelings were hurt; your niece did not
behave well. Having said that, I should add that I have been
witness over the years to many conversations about how to
divide the very limited number of tickets available for
graduations. It is fairly common practice, when deciding
between non-immediate family members, to give tickets to
relatives or friends who travel a great distance to come to the
graduation. That may not seem fair given your obviously close
tie to your niece, but it is a common solution to an unhappy
problem. With the stress of graduation (and her entry into the
uncertainties of adult life!) your niece may have really
wavered on what to do. Your recap of your conversation with
her reveals signs that the poor girl was being pressed from
numerous sides and was depending, in fact, on her close
relationship with you for some understanding. In other words,
she was counting on the idea that someone (you) who really
cared for her welfare would agree to take the stress off and
say ''that's fine, I'll come to the other function with bells
on.'' Graduation is a beautiful ceremony, but the actual moment
of ''your'' grad crossing the stage goes by in the blink of an
eye, and you'll have to suffer through many other people
crossing the stage in order to get that one moment. It's not
like a wedding. Much nicer are the parties after graduation,
which can contain little ceremonies too. I think you should
have agreed to sacrifice the ticket and then, when offered the
opportunity to go to the ceremony, you should have taken it.
But in any case, I hope you will offer your niece a token of
peace and your love in the very near future, so that you can
express what you really want to feel for her. Don't let hurt
feelings dominate and erode what has been an important
resentment will get you nowhere
This whole thing was unfortunate and I can understand your feelings.
It was insensitive of your niece to not understand and
acknowledge how important your graduation was to her and how
important you had been in her success, but she obviously did not
get any help from her mother in learning either etiquette or how
to appreciate and value other people.
It's pointless now to try and say whether or not you did the
right thing- it's done- but if you can understand that your niece
needs help in becoming a mature and thoughtful person as much as
in her academic life, you can express your love and caring by
modeling that behaviour and by gently guiding her to mature choices.
You may very well get no sign from her that you are having any
effect, but she will at least then have that guidance in her head
and it may become useful to her as she grows up and goes along in
life. I find myself, even now in my fifties, looking to my
memories of one of my great-aunts for love and inspiration.
You've already been loving and generous with her, perhaps more so
than her parents have been, and I'd suggest that you continue to
be so, if only for the pleasure that it gives you.
In my experience, anytime there is a major life event (wedding,
etc) in someone's life that person and his/her immediate family tend to
get kind of
crazy. By crazy, I mean that they become overwhelmed with the
importance of the
event and become obsessed with every detail, trying to make it their
perfect. Additionally, the immediate family members often project their
emotions from their own experiences in these same situations onto the
whom the event is happening. It is an enormous amount of pressure and
it takes a
very mature person to recognize what is happening and do something to
things under control. I doubt that your neice could have done so at her
with so little life experience.
I feel sorry for what happened to you and think you were right to go
make plans with your immediate family for the day instead of waiting to
be offered a
ticket from your neice's ''B'' list of invitees. It is OK to have a B
list but not OK to let
your guests know it. If I were you, I'd let it go but I wouldn't forget
that you've seen
these people for who they really are in these situations...and most
importantly, if I
were you, I would keep low expectations as to your participation in any
events of your neice's so that you don't get hurt again.
This is a difficult lesson to learn where family is concerned. My heart
goes out to
Your neice was rude. Her behavior was wrong. She should never have
promised you a
ticket and then not given it to you. Period. The cousin flies in from
the East Coast?
''Sorry, all the tickets are gone, but you're welcome to come to the
You were treated inappropriately and it was a very hurtful thing to do.
She and her
mother should be ashamed. Now, unfortunately, they have some work to do
your respect and trust, and all for a 3-hour, mostly boring ceremony.
What a shame.
You certainly should
have gone to
the zoo with your kids, rather than to the graduation. It was too
little, too late on your
neice's part. JMHO.
Berkeley Mom of 3
I think that you were treated with inconsideration. For your
niece and her mother to allow two weeks to lapse and only call
you on the day of the event with an offer of a ticket doesn't
provide you with a fair amount of notice. It was healthy for you
to plan an outing rather than sit home and brood about not being
invited to your beloved niece's graduation.
This being said, I would shake off all feelings of doubt and do
your best to stay in your niece's life. Don't perpetuate grudges.
Continue to be the loving and generous aunt you always were.
I think that the whole ticket thing for graduation just adds one more
nightmare for the poor kids! I'm sure your niece was probably not the
caused the problems and yes, she probably could have handled it better,
assuming it's a high school graduation, giver her a break.
What I would do, if you're that close, is call her and invite her to
lunch or dinner. It
will make her feel special. Tell her you're sorry that things got so
mixed up and that
you really are disappointed that you weren't there, but let her know
that you plan on
being around for future events or something to that effect. I think you
can let her
know you were hurt but, really, it's a done deal. Move on and hope that
remember next time that she's important to you and vice versa.
Yes, you were wrong in not attending. You wanted to go and
your niece arranged an invitation. You did not honor your own
desires nor your nieces. A big lose lose situation.
I think you behaved selfishly and foolishly and with spite.
Your anger and disappointment would have been better directed
at the graduation planners who only allowed a small number of
tickets rather than at your niece.
Your niece only had seven tickets and had to juggle numerous
family members... This is NOT an easy task... someone is going
to feel left out no matter what. Perhaps you should feel
flattered that she felt close enough to you to ask you to give
up your ticket.
Your posting sounded like the whine of a spoiled child when a
goody bag isn't presented at the end of a really fun and
engaging birthday party. (It seems like you and your niece
have had a close relationship... Why ruin that because of a
I would hope that you can mend this situation. Attending a
graduation does not cement a relationship. Care, concern and
empathy are the building blocks of close relationships.
Perhaps you could invite your niece out to a nice lunch to
celebrate the graduation.... (Just don't EVER rehash your
This was a day that was about your niece, and you made it about
you. You definitely should have gone to the celebration despite
the shortage of tickets. I guarantee you that boycotting the
graduation will be remembered more than all the nice things you
did for her. I can't tell you how irritated it makes me when
people can't just go with the flow and not take everything so
PERSONALLY. Your poor neice, when it's time to throw a wedding
she's really going to have to struggle if the whole family
demands to be front-and-center all the time!
Been there, dealt with narcissistic relatives!
It's not clear from your message whether this is a high school or
college graduation. If it was high school, I think you made a
mistake. She was being immature for sure, but as the older adult
it would have been good of you to accomodate her lack of
thoughtfulness, while still letting her know what the right thing
to do was (maybe later). If it was a college graduation, I think
she should have known better by that age and level of life
You did the right thing in making other plans, and then NOT
treating your family as your niece treated you (like trash, or a
second choice). I'd urge you to feel as little guilt as possible,
understanding that doing the right thing doesn't always feel good.
Reading your letter I confess that my first thought was about
whether this spoiled girl expected a present from you, whether or
not you came to graduation. My suggestion would have been to send
her a graduation card with the note -- ''I was going to give you a
present but decided to give it to someone else. If she doesn't
want it I'll send it to you later.''
Family shouldn't treat each other that Way
OMG, you are making so much drama out of something that you
should have been over in two seconds. If graduation tickets
were really that had to come by, I'm sure your niece was really
stressed about it. She's young, you're older. You were
supposed to support her on her big day, not make it all about
you. Grow up!
Your niece did not behave gracefully.
The situation sounded difficult, with limited tickets,
out-of-town visitors, but it was rude of her to dis-invite you.
It sounds as if she tried to mend things by tracking down a ticket.
But clearly your feelings were already hurt.
You also did not behave gracefully then.
The trip to the zoo could easily be rescheduled, but you did not.
It sounds as if you only went to punish your niece.
One of you is a kid, which is not a particularly good excuse for
One of you is an adult.
It would have been good if you could have risen above your hurt
feelings to be with your niece.
Two wrongs don't make a right, and probably don't leave you
feeling any better either.
It sounds like your feelings were really hurt by the ticket
being given and then taken back. I can understand why you would
have been disappointed. That said, I think it would have been
good to also consider that your niece was in an impossible
situation -- she had a very limited number of tickets, and
sounds like she has a lot of family that love her and wanted to
celebrate her graduation (even family flying in from out of
town!). It seems a big (and inappropriate) leap of logic to
decide that you not getting a ticket means you are ''garbage''.
When she first told you that she could no longer give you a
ticket the gracious and forgiving thing to do (given that her
graduation is about her, and not you) would have been to say ''I
am disappointed but I understand. If a ticket frees up I would
wtill love to go. I am really proud of you and want to
celebrate with you however I can!'' When she called right before
the graduation, and said she now had a ticket free, you should
have viewed that as good news, given how much you say you wanted
to go (I don't see why it should matter that the ticket freed up
because the cousin couldn't fly out -- again, your niece was in
an impossible situation with the limited number of tickets).
Once she called with the ticket you had a decision to make: did
you want to go to the graduation more than follow through on
your alternative plans? Seems strange to me that you say you
felt so strongly about being included in the graduation, but
then when it worked out that you actually could go you
declined. Seems punitive to me (you being punitive because you
were upset). Sounds to me like you got your feelings hurt and
then didn't have any more space for sharing
generosity/support/love with your niece, which is unfortunate.
You chose to forego the opportunity to celebrate with her, which
you said was so very important to you. Seems a mistake to me.
Best to always lead with forgiveness/love
this page was last updated: Sep 24, 2012
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