When I say that I’m a family mediator, what comes to your mind? Is it working through a divorce or separation? Parenting plans? Support? I would say yes you are correct but there’s so much more. Mediating family issues can range from the common, as I mentioned above, but can also include a variety of other less common topics that create conflict within a family. I will caveat this by saying that each family’s situation is unique and prior to entering into family mediation, proper screening and evaluation of the situation needs to occur and if I, as a mediator, determine that the conflict is not suited for mediation, I will recommend alternative avenues to resolution, such as whether to seek legal advice.
Now back to what can be mediated, do you and your co-parent disagree on whether to vaccinate your child? What about taking your child on an international family vacation when you’re separated? Or what about deciding what religion the children should follow? Mediation can help resolve each of these scenarios, and many more. I like to look at myself as someone who can be useful to help two people who are currently at a stalemate on a topic find a common ground. Mediation does not need to be complex; it can honestly be one decision that people cannot seem to arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution. By bringing the conflict to mediation, people can get a neutral third party to flesh out what may be causing the stalemate, raising new ideas/options, or sharing their experiences of similar situations.
Family mediation is not limited to conflicts between parents, it can include conflict with grandparents, aunts, or uncles. We’ve all heard the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ so when a relationship comes to an end, family members who played an integral role in a child’s life are left wondering, what about me? Will I get to see the children? This scenario can be mediated and whether it’s the parents or the family members who bring the conflict to mediation, we can discuss what the options for going forward can be for all parties.
Family mediation also goes beyond families with children. It extends to couples who do not have children, a mix of family members for example, a daughter in law and mother-in-law cannot see eye to eye. Family mediation could also be appropriate for a couple who do not have children and cannot agree who should inherit beloved family heirlooms should they pass away, as an example.
Another scenario where family mediation could be appropriate is helping a separating couple determine who gets the pet(s), or if two family members just are not getting along and can’t seem to get past certain event(s). Sometimes in family mediation a third family member is brought in with the goal of ‘keeping the peace’, but in reality, the third person does not always keep the peace. It would be surprising for you to hear the number of requests I get regarding resolving a conflict between two family members that stems from an event that took place years ago.
So why do you care? Well, I wanted to share this because I feel like sometimes the idea of family mediation gets pigeonholed into the common divorce/separation scenario and people struggling with conflict in other areas feel stuck. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of cases do come from this scenario, but I wanted to shed light on the fact that so many other conflicts within a family can be brought to mediation, and resolved in a way so the family can heal, and the relationship can be healthy moving forward
Circling back to what I said earlier, I am here as a resource to you and your family. So why not reach out so that I can help you find a common ground and see if further damage to relationships can be prevented. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask, “can this be mediated?”. You may be surprised at my answer!