Must a teenager attend her father's memorial service?

A fourteen year old girl I know does not want to attend the memorial service for her father. Her parents were never married, did not live together, and he rarely saw her. Father and daughter had no meaningful relationship.

He did marry later, had three kids, and a fourth is on the way, and I am sorry for them. Because he was a firefighter who died in the line of duty he’s being lauded to the sky, called “a dedicated family man who loved his children”. Not all of them I guess.

The girl’s mother wants her to attend the memorial service, says she’ll regret it later if she doesn’t. The girl herself doesn’t want to be around her father’s family, especially as there may be cameras around.

I don’t think she should have to go, even if she does regret it later. What does anyone else think?

The mother may attend her ex’s memorial service if it’s so important to her. The girl has made her choice, has good reasons for making it, and shouldn’t be guilt tripped into an uncomfortable and unpleasant chore.

He wasn’t a father when he was alive. He isn’t any better now that he’s dead. Let the girl off the hook.

Why would she regret not attending? What’s she suposed to get out of it? I think 14 is old enough to make this decision for herself.

No, she is old enough at 14 to make that choice on her own and I can understand her reasoning perfectly.

I am 34 and have some lesser troubles with my father but they are still bad enough that I don’t know if I would piss on him if his pants were on fire. I have refused some default funeral invitations in my family especially for my mother’s mother who abused her in various ways and caused problems directly and indirectly until she died. People wanted to know why and I told them why she deserved no respect from me even in death and they understood.

My parents got divorced when I was 14 and I declared right then damned well what I would do and wouldn’t do because they screwed up in most ways imaginable. Fourteen is plenty old enough to make those decisions for yourself especially when unfortunate family circumstances cause you to raise yourself in many ways. There is no need for pretense and no one should force her to go because that could cause further scarring on her part by being exposed to “loving family”.

Great Simmering Cats, I wouldn’t want to go, either! Talk about being the fifth wheel. Either everyone will fall on her neck sobbing like they’re “real” family while she’s trying to remember their names, or she’ll sit in the corner being ignored while his “real” family is comforted and occasionally shoots disapproving or apologetic looks her way. No thanks. I wouldn’t wish that on any 14 year old.

I’m 30 and I can’t stand having to feign shock/sadness/regret, I can’t imagine its any easier for a 14 year old. Perhaps another adult could offer to escort her to the wake, where she can come and go anonymously, but if she declines so be it.

I don’t think she will regret it later, and the other folks should lighten up about it.

I have always felt that anyone who doesn’t really want to go to a funeral should not be “guiltied” into it. Either you want to go, or you don’t, and there are a million highly personal reasons for not wanting to go, and since everybody copes with death in a highly personalized manner, you shouldn’t be forced to cope with death in a manner that may not jibe with what works for you, i.e. the collection of ceremonies in 21st century America that are known as “visitation and funeral”.

And this goes double for children. For one thing, no child should have to view a bizarrely beautified corpse of a loved one. Especially if the deceased was a parent or sibling, after the mortuary gets done with the remains, it can have very little resemblance to the living person, what with pancake makeup, judicious use of stitching, lipstick, etc. Children should be allowed to remember loved ones “as they were”, not as a waxen, zombified, nearly unrecognizable body.

ETA: and if it’s just a memorial service with no body, then second what was said earlier by Whynot, about the swirling interpersonal relationships among the overwrought adults being something that a young teen just shouldn’t have to cope with.

Better yet, someone will ask, overhear her relationship, she’ll have a mike thrust in her face or a reporter standing by with a notebook, and something that could really hurt the other family could hit the press. In addition to “I don’t want to go” it sounds like that may be the most respectful decision for the family this man was a father to.

(And he may not deserve her respect, but they didn’t do anything to her - and even if they have, they don’t deserve shit now).

Another vote for thinking she shouldn’t have to go if she doesn’t want to. How in the world does her mother think it will make her feel to hear people lauding her father for being a “great family man” when he wasn’t a father to her?

It should be the girl’s choice, but I think her mother, advising her to go, is a wise decision.
I think it is important to celebrate life changing events and I’m pretty sure that sociologists agree. While a memorial service may not have the psycholgical impact of an actual funeral, with the viewing of the deceased, it’s still an important affirming ritual.
I would hope that the young woman wouldn’t be subjected to public scutiny, as some here have speculated, but I do believe she will be better able to deal w/ this event throughout the rest of her life by attending the service as a final act of her father’s life, no matter what the previous relationship. Death is forever, and that’s often hard to deal with. The finality of the ritual is an important event.

I don’t think she should be forced to go. If normal means of persuasion don’t get her to reconsider, let her stay home.

I don’t think she should attend. Why attend a funeral for someone you didn’t know who had no relationship with you other than “blood”? She didn’t have a father; the guy who died need not be a concern of hers.

What “father”? It was a semen donor…

I’ve had friends who didn’t want to attend the funeral of a parent or bf because they were way too upset. They didn’t want to go and they didn’t go; nobody had any problem with it. They got closure in other ways (normally a visit to the grave).

I think she can celebrate it just fine on her own, too. :stuck_out_tongue:

Seeing as I feel that kids shouldn’t be barred from funerals (I come from a family where it was thought that it wasn’t right for kids to be at funerals, hence why I didn’t get to go to my grandma’s one when I wanted to, at age 9), I certainly agree with others here that the girl is entitled to make up her own mind.

Let the girl decide. It’s not going to hurt her to miss it.

Frankly, I think funerals, memorial services, and burial services are a waste of time and money, and refuse to attend any, regardless of how much people get pissed at me about it.

What is she possibly going to regret later? That she didn’t get a chance to ‘say goodbye’? Goodbye happened a long time ago.

I think the mother is right to suggest she should go, but I also believe it’s the girl’s choice if she does or not. She may regret it later–who knows?–but she’s old enough to decide for herself. I have to second the thought that it could be very uncomfortable for her to be around his ‘real’ family at that kind of event.

I agree so much (as anyone who remembers my various polemics about funerals would expect). To some, funerals and the like are comforting and socially necessary. For me, they are a shallow gesture at best and a form of socially accepted torture at worst.