Does Your Family Need a Mediator?

By: Elizabeth Esrey, Private Mediator
Last Update: November 01, 2016

Families argue – especially around the holiday times. Overbearing in-laws, wayward teens, blended families, elder care or antiquated parenting plans can turn a happy home into a war zone. While some situations get resolved over time, others can go on for months
even years – sometimes causing severe damage. Instead of allowing conflict to fester, consider mediation.

Discord, when skillfully managed, can be a catalyst for emotional growth and a way to recreate family harmony. Families in conflict (divorce, stepfamilies, parenting plans, etc.) either ignore the problem or constantly argue. Ignoring problems won’t make them better. Furthermore, chronic strife can cause irreversible damage. Do yourself and your family a favor by considering mediation to help resolve family conflict. A mediator help families solve disputes completely, peacefully, and privately.

Mediation is an effective method of conflict resolution, yet few people truly understand it. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process that offers families an alternative to costly and lengthy litigation and therapy. What issues need to be addressed and who needs to do what to resolve the conflict is determined by the parties involved in the mediation. Mediators provide a safe platform for a difficult yet direct conversation. If a resolution is reached, the parties craft a written document of expected behaviors. Mediated cases typically settle in one or two sessions with flexible scheduling and locations.

The goal of mediation is to craft a written agreement, meeting each family member’s unique needs. Mediation is not limited by the rules of evidence or legal relevance. Since the people in conflict draft the agreement, they are more likely to abide by it. Mediation is cooperative, not adversarial; civility during discourse is required. With the help of the mediator, parties talk openly and constructively about problems and potential solutions. Relationships may be preserved through mediation, and communication is often ameliorated.

For those seeking a resolution to the conflict, mediation is a confidential and compassionate way to work through differences. Instead of wasting time on destructive behaviors, mediation promotes effective problem solving. Families who mediate, model cooperation and compromise while protecting loved ones from the public and emotional toll of court. I’ve worked with families who litigated their divorce longer than they were married. After one mediation session, acrimonious debates gave way to collaboration. More importantly, communication improved. When people in conflict are properly guided, they are perfectly capable of absolute resolution.

Stop spending precious time fighting and stressing. Sit down with a mediator to talk constructively about your needs and how to best meet them. You may be surprised at what you learn about yourself and your family. You might even be surprised by how much you can resolve and improve.

Elizabeth Esrey is a private non-attorney mediator. She works to ensure that her clients’ needs are met – confidentially and efficiently.

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