I just had the "privilege" (quotes intentional) of attending my son's "graduation" from eighth grade a month ago. I was appalled at the spectacle. Long gowns on the girls, tuxedos on many of the boys, limousines sweeping up to the door--I couldn't believe my eyes. What are we going to give these kids for graduating from high school or university to top this? (Let's not even think about future wedding expectations!) It was insane, particularly in view of the fact that in my province it is impossible for a child not to "graduate" from grade eight--all he/she needs is a pulse; no other achievements are necessary.
That being said, it wasn't up to me to tell my son that he wasn't allowed to go. His views on dressing up match his father's (who will basically only wear a suit at gunpoint!) so I didn't have to worry about him begging me to rent him a tux, but I figured it was his decision to attend or not. For the record, he changed his mind several times in the weeks before because he didn't want to be the only boy there without a "date", but on the actual day he said he would go. I drove him there, stood by the back door for the ceremony (crowd anxiety issues) and went home, sending his father to pick him up from the dance later.
The whole overblown thing left a bad taste in my mouth, and if this is becoming typical, I believe that it needs to be addressed. Forcing one's child to boycott the ceremony, however, is not the answer and it punishes the child. I wish that there was an easy answer. I'm just glad that I'm done with it.
Wait, they had the graduation ceremony and 8th grade dance combined? I've never heard of this. At my kid's 8th grade dance, limo's were forbidden by the school. They used the excuse that the limos didn't have proper place to turn around and were causing traffic jams. It was really because too many 14 year olds were showing up to the 8th grade dance drunk.
I'll admit to thinking the elaborate 8th grade dance my kid's attended were overblown. Mom's working non-stop for months and elaborate decorations and activities that most HS Prom's don't have.
We sort of did this when I was in 8th grade, about 20 years ago. The ceremony was called "Promotion", not "Graduation", and it was special in part because we were now moving on to high school. We were going from the "just take whatever classes they give you" to actively choosing our own classes, and starting to chart our paths for college and/or a job. It really did, and does, seem like a significant milestone to me.
However, as I have said, it was not called a "graduation". It was a "promotion", with the emphasis on the fact that we should be proud of ourselves because we had earned the right to now go on to high school and start that process of running our own lives.
And we had a dance afterward, but not with tuxes and limos! Most of the guys wore dress pants, a button down shirt, and a tie. The girls wore somewhat fancy dresses-like maybe a step up from what are considered "church clothes" in the traditional sense, but nowhere close to prom type dresses. Kind of like a lot of bridesmaid dresses nowadays but they were never floor length, they were tea length at the max. And that was fun for many reasons, including the fact that it was like a "practice prom", "prom for beginners", something like that. A first try at fun and formality without all the pressure (very few people had dates, for example). We got a little taste of prom so we had something to look forward to.
And we didn't use caps and gowns. We walked into the ceremony with "Pomp and Circumstance" but in the fancy clothes we had on for the dance. And there was no valedictorian, but a lot of various awards given out. We didn't get diplomas, but we got "certificates of promotion", handed out diploma-style.
I do understand, though, that such things would be hard to keep in check these days-you'd have too many people going too far with tuxes and limos and such. And this is sad, because I enjoyed my promotion ceremony very much. And it was good practice for high school and college graduations, prom, etc.
And as for the mom in the OP, I think it really depends on her child's opinion. To force or bribe or shame him into not attending the ceremony, whatever it is, I think is over the top. If he doesn't want to go, she can surely support his choice, but if he does, I think that keeping him out of it would very much damage their relationship
and if I were her, though I agree with her opinion that these things are getting over the top, I would just suck it up and go with what made my kid happy.