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My parent's move toward divorce started four years ago, right before I left for college. In some ways I have been fortunate, because I haven't been home through all the ups and downs.

Usually, during major holidays and other such events, my older sister and I split them between our parents. Christmas eve we usually have dinner with my dad, Christmas day is spent with my mom. Most of the time, major family events are tolerable but I have also had some awful experiences. Last summer, I attended my cousin's wedding with my father and sister. I spent the entire reception in the bathroom crying while my father led my distant relatives to believe I was upset over my no-show date. I was really upset that my Dad promised me, without fail, he would pay my education, no questions asked. By the end of last summer, he was using my tuition payments and me as a way to make my mom angrier, and add fuel to the fire.

This month I am graduating from college, and the traditions are not conducive to segmented families. Each family at my school rents a tent with their friends on the quad for festivities after commencement, which will inevitably force my parents under one roof for one more day. I have approached this situation with the mentality that, if everyone is prepared ahead of time, things will more likely run better. I have spoken with both my parents concerning their behavior at my graduation, asking to please not argue, and keep in mind that this is my graduation. As a result, my dad has agreed to avoid my mom and vice versa. This is the best that can be done for my situation right now but it's a good start.

I think the most important thing I have learned about dealing with situations where parents that don't get along are forced to be together is to make them remember why they are being forced into the same room in the first place. As a divorced child, I have realized that if something is important enough to you that you want it to go well, you need to be proactive. Talk to your parents and siblings ahead of time and let them know how you feel and what your concerns are. It can be stressful, but it's better then leaving the atmosphere of your day up to chance and having it spoiled as a result.

I am often envious of children whose parents had quick and painless divorces, but the lessons I have learned from my parents' experience have made me a better person. I approach situations differently, and think ahead in order to resolve problems. Although it is sometimes extremely difficult to imagine the good in bad situations, I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason and that every experience in my life is a learning opportunity

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