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Advantages of Family Mediation

Advantages of Family Mediation

What are the advantages of mediation in the family context?

 

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I’ll say, it can be hugely rewarding for, I hope, them and not just for the mediator. First of all, I think, to see the reduction in stress. People come and they’re extremely stressed and they’re dreading actual loss of a child, meaning not seeing them. I mean, that’s a terrible thing to be going through, and you can see parents, I’ve seen parents come to the second meeting and I’ve [inaudible 41:38] well, ‘Is this the same person?’ because they look so much less stressed.

 

Then, they say, ‘Well, actually we’ve been meeting and talking since we last saw you, and what we’ve worked out is,’ and then they’re off. Well, that, in itself, is hugely rewarding, and it’s seeing them still realising that there’s still a family.

 

Okay. The parents may not live together, but they’re still a family. I think once parents and children can see that ‘we’re still a family’ . . . There’s a lovely quote from a child, not a child in mediation, but a child who spoke to a researcher, who said . . . she was asked, ‘What is a family?’ and she said, ‘Families are for helping each other through life. Therefore, loving each other and crying together, laughing together, going through all the emotions together. Sometimes they live together,’ and I think that’s what it’s about. You don’t always have to live with the other person, but you can still be a family.

 

So, I’ve certainly seen parents who say, ‘Well, we can take the children out together or we celebrate their birthdays together. We can meet together for Christmas and big events. We can do things as family. The children know we’re not getting back together again.’ Some, say, remarry, have new partners. A lot of parents can manage these transitions and children, sometimes on their own, without any outside support, sometimes with just a little bit of, it’s really short term support. But just giving them that encouragement and some resources or suggestions about the kinds of help that enable them to get through this particular crisis or transition and manage really well. Which many parents do, and if you involve, sometimes, children, adolescents, well, actually, I find that the most rewarding part of it of all, because they are such a delight, actually, and, if both parents and the child is willing. It’s only done with full consent, obviously, but conversations with, usually, older children, teenagers, they have such good ideas.

 

There were two small, quite small boys, actually, that were in another meeting, who said . . . I’m quoting them. I wasn’t working with them directly. ‘Well, our parents couldn’t have done it without our help,’ and it’s true. Some children have ideas. They can see what would work. Their parents have been so caught up with their own concerns and worries and anger that they haven’t seen, actually, quite a straightforward possibility. Children may spot and say, ‘Well, look. If we did it like this . . . ‘ and parents can then say, ‘Well, actually, I suppose we could do that.’

 

So, that is very rewarding, to see family members able to talk to each other and hear each other and enjoy things, because, in the middle of a separation, I think parents lose . . . You know, they don’t have the energy or the strength to actually enjoy things much. You say, ‘When did you last play with your children?’ they look at you. ‘I’ve been too stressed.’

About the mediator

Lisa Parkinson Profile Pic

Based in Bristol, Lisa is a senior family mediator and one of the founders of family mediation in the UK. Lisa’s qualifications in modern languages and experience as a social worker drew her to mediation in the 1970s as a much-needed way of helping couples resolve conflicts arising in separation and divorce, especially where children were concerned. She co-founded the 1st family mediation service in the UK and probably in Europe and went on ... View Mediator