Family Mediation has been effective in helping family members manage their fear in order to resolve family conflict. When family members are at a mediation session, a trained neutral mediator assists in creating a safe platform for everyone to air their concerns without being belittled and dismissed by other family members.
Teens in particular have a fear of not being listened to, and often feel that nobody ever listens to them, and they may be right! Teen mediation can be invaluable in these cases.
“The teen years are confusing for both the adolescent and the parent. The teen is no longer a child, yet not quite an adult. Teens are struggling for their independence, yet sometimes unwilling to assume the accompanying responsibility. They often want to make their own rules yet have difficulty following family rules. Sometimes parents have a hard time letting their teens have the freedom teens think they deserve. This is all part of the parent – teen growing up together, conflict system. Because parents and teens care about each other, emotions exaggerate their differences. Openly acknowledging and managing these emotions is the key to managing parent – teen conflicts constructively”. See the full article: Parent – Teen Conflict, Managing it Constructively.
The object of parent/teen mediation is to discuss how communication will be managed in the family, the house rules, and how they will be implemented. The consequences for breaching the agreements made will be agreed, and responsibilities distributed.
The mediation process changes according to the style of the mediator, and the nature of the conflict, this is a guideline only:
- Introduction – Mediator explains mediation and the process. The ground rules are explained, and signed.
- Parties list the issues which have taken them to mediation.
- The mediator asks clarifying questions to facilitate mutual understanding.
- Possible solutions are explored, tested, and adjusted as necessary.
- A plan of action is written up – a flip chart is useful here – and adjusted if necessary.
- The mediator records agreements reached and prepares a formal agreement that parents and teens sign.
- This agreement usually includes a clause to say that there will be a return to mediation if the agreements reached are breached, by any of the parties, or if further adjustments are required.
Mediation sessions typically last 1-2 hours. Often more than one session is required.
In some cases a mediator, or any one of the parties, may decide that a break is desirable, or a private session with one or each of the parties is required. Each party will be afforded the same opportunity. This can sometimes allow for clarification of a matter, or explain a reticence noticed by the mediator. Matters discussed privately with the mediator will not be taken back to the other parties, without the express permission of the parties.
This is most important for teens. It is imperative that the mediator does not breach the confidentiality of the mediation. The exception to this is where matters of the safety of the children is revealed. Mediators are mandated reporters under the law.
Many mediators have specific training in dealing with children, and young adults. If children are to be involved in mediation it is important that the parties are satisfied that the mediator is competent in this area of work.
“By recognizing Parent Teen conflict as a systemic issue, blame is minimized, power is balanced and neutrality is accomplished. Recognizing Parent Teen conflict as a systemic issue reinforces neutrality by not associating the teen as being ‘troubled’”. See the full article: Parent Teen Mediation – A Family Systems Perspective.