Helping You Navigate Difficult, but Important Topics
A few examples: When might a mediator be able to help your family navigate a difficult, but important topic? Answering this question is easier with the help of a few examples. Consider the following scenarios:
- The once warm relationships shared between four siblings has grown closed and distant due to a combination of resentment harbored by one against another, immoderate alcohol use by a third, and the different places they live and different wealth each has achieved. However, their parent’s 50th wedding anniversary brings them all together and based on the encouragement of their parents there is the opportunity for the brothers and sisters to talk about what has kept them apart…
- A family with two boys, one in high school and one in junior high, is trying to cope with the fact that the older boy is suddenly completely consumed with his new girl friend, his school work is slipping, and attempts by his parents to intervene have been met with anger andOn top of this, the prom is coming up and his parents are shocked that kids are spending over $1000 for one night at a dance. Meanwhile, their younger son, who looks up to his brother, is just beginning to go to dances. His parents are concerned that in experimenting with his identity, he will rush into behavior modeled after his brother in a way that will create problems. The parents are struggling to engage their children effectively in a conversation about their concerns…
- A divorced family of two households must make a plan for adjusting to the fact that one parent, after several years, is compelled by economic necessity to take a job in anotherBoth parents agree that the children are old enough to best represent their own needs with regard to certain aspects of the decisions that must be made. Yet both parents also have needs of their own that they agree do not have to be neglected in the face of the needs of the children. There is a spirit of cooperation, but two new spouses, a step sister in one household and a half-brother in the other. Making the necessary adjustments won’t be easy…
The thing that these three scenarios share most in common is that each involves a network of intersecting family relationship and a sense that the wellbeing of one or more loved ones is at risk. In addition, there is an implicit question whether the family members will be able to communicate effectively about the issues at hand in order to adequately care for each others’ wellbeing and the family bonds they all share.
The question Family Tree Mediation asks you to consider is this:
Can a skilled and neutral, third party mediator help your family take care of each other, navigate difficult transitions, repair old rifts, and/or otherwise help you to improve the quality of your communication and relationship patterns?
For many, mediation is a legal word that brings to mind divorce settlements, testamentary challenges, or business breach of contract suits. This understanding is rapidly changing, however, as a result of four decades of intense activity and growth in the mediation field. During this time, mediators and researchers have developed and proven many new communication tools that are not necessarily legal in nature, but are universal to the types of conversations we have every day, all day long. Appreciation has also grown for the wide applicability of mediation and the unique function a neutral, outside party can play in structuring and facilitating a conversation that would otherwise be hard to free from negative emotion.
Here are ten ways that Family Tree Mediation can help your family navigate difficult conversations and decisions by facilitating your family meeting:
- By creating and holding a caring, attentive and inquiring communication space where you can all feel equally respected, free and encouraged to speak your truth in a confidential setting;
- By facilitating a multi-party communication process aimed at giving each family member deeper satisfaction that he or she really has been heard and understood;
- By identifying and distinguishing between the different positions held by respective family members and the core needs those positions are intended to satisfy;
- By facilitating exploration of each others’ core needs as a means for creating more opportunity for creative solutions that address the diverse range of interests represented among the whole family;
- By identifying and discussing different standards and processes for evaluating the merit of proposed solutions;
- By helping the family to apply those standards as a means for voluntarily coming to and refining an agreement on a plan for addressing the issues at hand;
- By facilitating the development of a plan for implementing the solutions agreed upon;
- By assisting the family in formalizing the agreement if desired;
- By fostering an environment in which family members have the opportunity to heal old wounds, apologize for any past wrongs or regrets, and overcome childhood or other patterns that no longer serve a useful purpose;
- And by creating an opportunity for training and practice in more constructive communication patterns that will serve the family well when faced with other difficult issues in the future.
If you have questions you would like to ask about Family Tree Mediation’s family meeting facilitation services or if you would like to schedule an appointment, you can call me at (650) 762-TREE [762-8733] or email me using the email form on our Contact Us page. Also, please call or email if you have any questions you would like to discuss.
Hank Edson, J.D. CALL: (650) 762-8733
Proprietor of Family Tree Mediation
Serving Redwood City, Atherton,
Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View,
Los Altos and the wider Peninsula &
San Francisco Bay Area.