Many families will navigate through challenging times at some point or another. Maintaining relationships in the face of change can be tricky. Mediation can help families avoid unnecessary strain on relationships by providing a safe and neutral environment to discuss issues that can lead to conflict.
Situations where you may consider mediation or even a facilitated family meeting could include:
You might not have a problem now, but circumstances can change quickly. Often families will benefit from talking things through now in a structured way before the time comes to tackle a particular situation.
Proactive mediation is useful when discussing such topics as estate or succession planning, organ donation, power of attorney and accommodation arrangements for seniors or those living with a disability. Neutral mediators give each party time to talk and discuss what’s important to them. A plan of action can be developed and agreed to by all stakeholders.
You may find yourself in a challenging situation that’s impacting you and your family right now.
Kevin can help families resolve disputes in a fair and timely way.
Dad had died some years ago and Mum had just passed away.
Part of Mum’s will reads that any of her surviving children be bequeathed all of her jewellery.
When two children want the same piece of their mother’s jewellery and neither wants to back down this is where conflicts can really start and can rear its head many years later, at supposedly “happy” family gatherings, such as Christmas.
It may be that one of the children thinks that they will not get anything worthwhile of Mum’s jewellery. They will be left with things that the other sibling does not want.
This is where a mediator can step in and help. Being a neutral person they have no interest in the outcome, they will keep the conversations confidential and allow each of the children to explain why they want ‘that’ particular piece of jewellery. Perhaps it is because at some time in their life Mum lent that piece of jewellery to one of the children.
The mediator can encourage two or more children to generate various solutions to their problem and that those solutions could be reality tested and one or a number of these solutions would be used in the breakup of the jewellery.
For example, the children may decide to have the jewellery valued and they divide it by value.
The mother had lost her husband ten years ago to cancer. The mother and her daughter had lived together since her husband’s death. Over this time they had formed a strong relationship, more akin to friends, than mother and daughter. They went to the theatre together and enjoyed other social outings as well as sharing their feelings with each other.
This worked well until her mother married a divorcee who had no children and no experience of raising children. The strong relationship that the daughter had with her mother had changed for ever.
The mother had a new responsibility to her husband.
How was the daughter to fit into this new relationship? How was the husband to fit into the relationships of this step family?
A mediator can help the family to develop and reality test their own options so that they can make decisions about future actions and outcomes.
For instance, perhaps it is about developing a solution to when the mother and daughter can be together. It could be about developing solutions to enable the mother and her new husband to have time together; about sharing the house with another person and having them understand the feelings and aspirations of the others or how the husband, or wife or child will blend into his new family.
If there are agreements reached the mediator will write them down in the words of the participants so that there is a record of what was agreed. Part of that agreement could be to meet again to review the current agreement and to change it if necessary.