Graduation: Who to please? Family or myself?


Hi everyone,
So... I'm graduating in July after five years of hard slog. And now, I've had something else thrown into the mix. I really want my supervisors to be able to attend my ceremony and they are also desperate to come as I'm their first grad in a while. As such, I managed to sweet talk the graduations team into changing my ceremony so that everyone can make it. I figure it'll be a good day. Whilst there have been bad times, my supervisors have on the most part assisted me throughout and they would have been quite within their rights to give up on me.

Problem is, my father is having none of it and wants me to graduate on a ceremony where neither supervisor can make it, but which means he doesn't have to hire a staff member for overtime. To put it into perspective, he came to my undergraduate graduation, arriving 5 mins before the ceremony and departing immediately after as he wouldn't close his business early and he missed my masters one entirely–again because he wouldn't give staff overtime for an hour. He recently moved with my mother down to the city I live in and promised that regardless he would attend my PHD ceremony and make a proper day of it-like actually go for a meal for example. Right now I feel broken and like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. My father would rather care about his business than a very important day in my life.

If I changed ceremony so taht my supervisors didn't come, my father still wouldn't make a day of it, rather would just rush back to his business.

I'm actually tempted just to graduate in absentia and then no one misses out. What would you guys do?



Do what pleases YOU. In your situation I think I'd say dad it is at X time on X date. Come if you can make it! If he wants to then he'll make the sacrifice.

Avatar for Pjlu

I would do something similar to Tudor Queen's suggestion.

Your supervisors took you through this journey, were there for you and are part of your success. Your father's previous behaviour suggests that even if you did change to suit his work needs, he still might not be present on the day in the way you would hope.

This is your day and your success and you deserve to enjoy it. Wishing you a lovely celebration, with your supervisor and friends/fellow graduates. Perhaps you can organise to catch up afterwards for a meal or drinks with your parents to celebrate at a time that suits your father (it might be on a different day) and perhaps someone can take some photos or film your bit on stage and this can be sent to your father as well.

Avatar for Pjlu

Quote From Pjlu:
Wishing you a lovely celebration, with your supervisor and friends/fellow graduates.

Hi Louise, I just wanted to clarify that statement I made above. It assumes you are going to make a specific choice. I wish you a wonderful celebration whatever you decide to do. Congratulations on your PhD.


I agree with the others - I would just say 'the graduation is on day X' and leave it at that, having chosen whichever arrangement you think is best. You've worked so hard for this, and the main thing is that you enjoy your day!

Avatar for skyisnotthelimit

I think you would regret it later in life if you graduated in absentia for reasons like these. To me the PhD graduation will mean much more than any other day in my life, and I am assuming is the same (or at least similar) to all PhD students. You have gone through 5 years of thick and thin and made it. That is a huge accomplishment that you should be able to celebrate and cherish the way YOU WANT! So as the others have suggested, tell your dad the place and time and then you go and rock and roll. Celebrate it with your supervisors, friends, yourself and if your dad is there - great. if not - great again. It will be his loss - not yours.

Good luck and congrats for making it. Have an unforgetable day.


Yes, congratulations!!!


Hi all,

Appreciate the responses. I've decided to do the ceremony in person. My dad has let me down in the past so there is no way I'm not having the graduation I've worked towards for so long. I think there is a compromise that they may open his business later that day. I told him I'd do in absentia and after a few hours figuring what that would mean he was a bit nicer about it.

Anyway thanks once more crew!

Mus x


Really sorry to hear about your father. I can understand how you feel. Yours may give you a few minutes of his time, but mine will have nothing to do with me!

Congratulations on finishing! Wishing you all the best!!!


I'm also graduating in July after a long hard 5 years!

My mum didn't want to attend my BSc graduation but I think she now realises how much this stuff means to me and she has asked to come to my PhD one. I'm still doubtful that she'll attend as harsh as that sounds.

I agree with the others about setting the date that you prefer and then it's up to others to make arrangements if they'd like to attend. Sounds like you made a good decision.

Congratulations and enjoy! :)


I'm in a similar situation; my dad made a huge scene at my masters graduation because I didn't make it about him. I decided there and then that he will not attend any more of my graduations because at the end of the day, I want to celebrate my achievement and not have to worry about him.

I've not yet discussed this with him as it doesn't seem the right time - I don't want to cause a lot of arguments when my concentration should be on finishing my lab work and writing my thesis. But I still think he's under the impression he is attending my PhD graduation, despite his behaviour at the last one. I haven't said anything as like I said, I don't want to cause an argument over something that isn't going to happen for another year or so.


Really feel for you bilbo!! I know how you feel! Yesterday was a difficult day. Firstly because my second supervisor is also able to make it. So I wonder who my real family is when my first sup will spend hundreds of pounds getting his proper robes (non Uk uni) and my second supervisor is willing to travel over 150 miles. My dad won't walk 0.4 miles.