By MICHAEL RUBINO, PH.D, MFT (Open Post)

With the large number of divorces, brings a lot of new situations in life, especially if you have children. Hopefully, when you and your spouse divorced, it was done in a civil manner and the children were not put in the middle of the divorce. This is the ideal situation, however, we do not always get the ideal situation.

Very often divorces are high conflict, and the two of you argue over everything and anything. Usually in these high-conflict divorces, the children are put in the middle and used as weapons. The children feel they have to choose -between their mother and their father. This is a very sad situation.

This conflict usually interferes with visitations and holidays. Parents argue about pick-up and drop-off times, how long they have the children for holidays, and there is often arguments about can a child bring toys or clothes from Dad’s house to Mom’s house. In short, parents argue about everything and the children become sick and tired of the arguing.

The other factor that adds to this is grandparents saying negative things about the ex-wife or ex-husband. This only increases the pressure and stress the children are dealing with after a divorce.

The final stressor is when one or both parents remarry or have a longterm boyfriend or girlfriend. Then the arguments are about, They are not my child’s mother, and I don’t want them involved in my child’s life.”

In short in a high-conflict divorce, children live in a war zone. They become use to arguing about everything and often feel they must choose sides. At times, some children do choose sides hoping to end the fighting or because they are so confused.

This type of divorce creates a great deal of issues for children, and I cannot cover all the issues in this blog. I would need a book to cover all the issues.

Most of the time, teens become sick and tired of the fighting and wish that their parents would stop fighting so they could at least not have to worry about what will cause the next argument.

Graduation is one of those issues.

Parents will often start arguing about issues such as, “I paid for everything you needed for high school and now he wants to come.” Or, “If your mother shows up, after everything she has done, I won’t be in the same room as her.” And of course there is always the issue of “he better not bring her to my child’s graduation.”

What is a teen to do?

They have spent the last four years working very hard in high school and graduation is a day for them to celebrate their accomplishment. They also usually want the people who they love and care about to be there with them to celebrate their accomplishment. However, how does this happen when Mom and Dad and grandparents are stating their terms about how graduation will be because of the divorce?

Your teenager did not get divorced. You and your spouse divorced, and even though you are no longer married, you are both still parents for your teenager and you need to act like parents.

This means putting aside all your feeling and issues so your teenager can truly celebrate their day, their graduation. Most parents have told their teens to stop being selfish and to think about someone else.

Well isn’t it time that you followed your own advice? Stop thinking about yourselves and your divorce and think about your teenager and how you can make your teen’s graduation a happy day for them.

What you need to do is you and your ex spouse sit down together, or email each other, and discuss how the two of you can put your issues on hold one day so your teen can have a happy graduation. The two of you need to talk with grandparents and other extended family and inform them what will be allowed and what will not.

This doesn’t mean you have to act like best friends. You simply need to be civil. If you don’t think you can sit next to each other at the graduation, then one of you sits on the left and one sits on the right. You don’t have to have a joint party either. You can decide to have separate parties.

The key is communicating with each other before the graduation and decide how you can do it civilly. This will be the best graduation present that you can give your teenager. Allow them to have their graduation day to celebrate their accomplishment without having to worry about what fight will there be. You are also teaching them a lesson about love, being parents and relationships.

The most important thing to do is remember this is a celebration. So let your teen celebrate and allow yourselves to celebrate with your teenager as their mother and father.

Remember the divorce ended your marriage not your relationship together as parents.

Rubino is a psychotherapist in Pleasant Hill in Northern California, with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist who specializes in treating children and teenagers.