Should an absent father be invited to a graduation?


My neighbor has a son who is confused on whether to invite his father to his 8th grade graduation.  The parents are divorced and his dad has only called twice in the last two years.  His father has only visited a handful of times over the past twelve years. The father feels that the son should initiate the relationship.  The son wants to do what is right even though he feels the father wouldn't be interested.  The father is also notorious for not following through on promises anyway.  My advice was to move on with his life and not invite the father.  That wasn't based on Scripture.  Could give us a sound answer?


This will be a repeating question as each major event arises in the boy's life: high school graduation, college, graduation, wedding, etc.

I hate using the term "father" for such a man as this. He might have contributed the sperm, but he hasn't acted as a true father in raising his son.

If the man doesn't cause problems if he does show up, the polite thing to do would be to invite him to the event, but with the boy understanding that he shouldn't expect him to show up. The boy is learning to treat others better than he is being treated himself. "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself" (Philippians 2:3).

Hard as it is, we don't do things because what we expect out of it. "But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same" (Luke 6:32-33). The invitation shouldn't be given only to those he expects to come or only to those he expects to send him a gift. He shouldn't expect that an invitation will open up the paths of communications and give him a father. This is merely the boy being polite to the man who was involved in bringing him into the world. What the man does is out of the boy's control. But he should never stoop to the level of this man's behavior.