The majority of the time, when I asked clients who were contacting me for the first time if they knew what mediation was about, the response was “not really.” Now, I find that clients who approach me are aware of what mediation is and have either made an independent choice that it is the best course of action for them, or have been sent to mediation by a lawyer. However, little is known about kid inclusive mediation, which may be a very beneficial tool for parents as well as an empowering experience for their child or children if done properly and with care.
What is child-inclusive mediation and how does it work?
The possibility (and frequently the wisdom) for parents’ children to speak with the mediator while they are using mediation (and maybe even when they are not) to talk about what happens next for them and their child(ren), in light of their separation, exists. This gives the youngster the opportunity to have a say in what will happen next in the situation. Too many youngsters believe that they were not heard during their parents’ divorce – that no one informed them of the changes that were about to take place or sought their input on what they would want to see take place in their lives. As seen in the graph below, 48 percent of youngsters claim that their parents did not adequately explain what would happen when the divorce took place. Often, youngsters have things they’d like to say or discuss with their parents, but they’re afraid to do so because they don’t want to upset their parents. https://nationalfamilymediationservice.co.uk/
It is possible for them to see that their parents are stressed out, furious, or irritated, and they worry about upsetting the apple cart. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that they adore their parent and don’t want to upset them further. Additionally, kids may be concerned that saying anything that is distasteful to one or both parents may put themselves in an even more difficult position. Having an unbiased third party to talk to and express their feelings about a situation may be quite therapeutic for a youngster in distress. It may also be empowering for children to have an adult pay close attention to their opinions and recommendations. Suddenly, their point of view is significant in this situation.
Please understand that this is not about forcing children to choose between their parents – it would be a very harmful and heartbreaking duty that would be much too much for them to bear. It is important to provide a safe environment in which youngsters may express their opinions on the issue. Perhaps they are concerned that they will not have enough time with their father or mother?
It could be that they have heard stories from friends whose parents have separated and are concerned that they will no longer be able to attend Saturday football games, or that they will no longer be able to attend birthday parties, or that they will forever be packing a bag and forgetting their PE kit because it is at the other parent’s house, resulting in them getting into trouble at school, among other things.
Their thoughts on how to better their current position are likely to be innovative, yet no one has ever solicited their opinions on the subject before. They may not choose to speak with a mediator, but you will never know if they would find it advantageous unless you ask them first. Allowing them the opportunity to have this conversation can also help avoid you from being retaliated against at a later date with an angry “you never asked me about how I was feeling, or offered me the opportunity to talk to anybody” statement from them.
What would be the benefit of using it?
There are a variety of reasons to consider providing your child with the opportunity to speak with a mediator. While I believe that this will result in a better outcome for you and your child(ren), I believe that there are advantages that are not necessarily tied to the outcome. These will be discovered over the course of the procedure. Giving your youngster the opportunity is all that is required. It’s possible that they are apprehensive about speaking with the mediator, who is, after all, a complete stranger. However, merely asking them whether they would want to might start a conversation that you had never had before. In order for a mediator to meet with a kid (or children), it is necessary that BOTH the parents and the child agree that such a meeting should occur.
Speakng with the mediator provides an opportunity for a youngster or children to let their feelings out in front of someone who is not personally involved in the matter. A mediator will only provide to the parents the information that the kid or children have requested. So a child may come and talk to the mediator, and it could be a cathartic experience for them to discuss things that have upset them, things that they don’t like, things that they are fed up with, and this may be sufficient for them. Because it might disturb them, they may believe that they do not need to inform their parents, but they would feel better by having been able to tell someone. It can be disheartening for parents to have invested in the process (emotionally as well as financially) only to discover that the mediator has no messages to pass on to them, but they may discover that their kid has found it useful and is now happy as a result of the experience.
It will be fully from the child’s point of view when there is information to be passed on. How many times have we, as parents, assumed we knew how our children would react to a scenario only to be absolutely astonished when they responded in a completely different way than we anticipated? When parents are going through a divorce, it can be difficult to distinguish between how their child is feeling about the situation and how they are feeling. However, despite the fact that they may have strong views about the other parent’s behaviour, to the kid, that person is still their mother or father. Parents prefer to view arrangements as a means of dividing time between themselves and their children, but this is not always the case in the minds of children. Professor Liz Trinder (Professor of socio-legal studies at Exeter University, who has researched a wide range of separation-related topics) brought this to light in an article published in November 2010 in the journal Sociological Theory.
What is the set-up like?
Preparation and clarity are essential in ensuring the success of this process, and it is critical that both parents understand the procedure before starting a talk with their kid about their feelings (ren). Parents must agree not to coach or influence their children, and they must also agree not to question their children about it afterwards. It’s also crucial to think about how you’ll raise it with your child(ren): will you do it together or will you do it separately? Or will it be just one parent who communicates with them? If your kid decides to proceed, the mediator will contact them in an acceptable manner to set up a time for them to do so. A meeting with the kid or children is scheduled (siblings can see the mediator together or separately – or both – depending on their ages). When dealing with children, the mediator will be particularly trained and insured, as well as well-equipped to put them at ease. During the meeting, toys, painting, and other activities will be used to break up the talk and make it less intense for the children. It is made clear to youngsters that only the information they choose to share with their parents will be shared with them. A mediator will use the children’s own language and will just report back to the parents on what they have said to him or her. Their contributions to the words are minimal, and they do not interpret them for the parents.
Who has the right to speak with the mediator?
It is frequently the case that older children are the ones who approach a mediator for help with their problems. Children as young as 10 years old may be deemed mature, but each case must be evaluated in light of its own particular circumstances. Perhaps you have a 9-year-old who is brimming with the want to communicate with someone? Consider the following scenario: you have siblings who are of the same age but some of whom are younger, and the younger children are emphatic that if their older siblings are talking to the mediator, then they must be as well. Discuss this with your mediator and see what they have to say about it. If they are not qualified to see children, they may call in another mediator to make arrangements for you, or they may refer you to a specially qualified mediator who will see children.
For the final paragraph of this blog, I wanted to include some quotes from children to ensure that their voices were heard throughout this blog.
It is important that you do not dispute in front of us; instead, describe what is occurring and why it is happening, without divulging any personal information or being embroiled in a debate over who is to blame.
“Our main emotions are sadness and anger that you can’t live together any longer. But we can deal with it and move on with our lives as long as you do as well. “If you don’t, we won’t be able to.”
“We have to be in close proximity to both of you. This implies that we like performing ordinary, daily activities with both of you, such as eating, playing, going to bed and getting up, going to school, watching television, and so on. ”