Newsletter April 2014

We are finally beginning to see the signs of Spring! As the weather warms up and plants start to bud, people seem to be in a better mood. There are the inevitable conversations with strangers — waitstaff, store clerks, passersby — about the relief from snow and cold. Even though states of mind are improving, we’re still left with the same realities in our lives. Now that Spring is arriving and there’s a sense of renewal, maybe it’s time to address some of the conflicts that have been bogging us down and effecting our relationships with the people in our lives. Maybe mediation can help. Let us know.

Gail and Ruth

Restoring Relationships

Both of us feel passionate about mediation and resolving conflict. One of the benefits of mediation that we always emphasize is the ability to restore relationships. We do not mean that every mediation is going to result in parties walking out arm-in-arm. What it does do is get people talking again. Unlike in court, the parties get to hear the other person’s perspective, listen to one another and have the chance to safely express and explain emotions. Mediation can provide a forum and an opportunity for siblings who have not talked in years, or even decades, to listen to one another and talk reasonably about how to solve a problem, opening a door for further communication and conversation. In the case of small businesses, parties get the chance to air their grievances and talk directly to one another, in a facilitated format that makes them also listen to one another. Hopefully the end result will include a long time customer continuing to patronize the same business, or for two businesses to continue their working relationship after their differences have been aired in a reasonable discussion. We all want to feel like our homes are comfortable havens for us. If a tenant is having a dispute with a neighbor or their landlord, that home can become a nightmare and parties are a chronic pain to one another. Whatever disagreements they have, it’s better for everyone to air their differences and walk out with an agreement and the ability to talk to one another.We always hope that a successful mediation not only means an agreement is reached, but that the parties are able to talk. If they can walk out talking, there’s always hope that the relationship can be saved.

Living with Teens

Ever notice how your adorable, earnest young child morphed into a stranger, just vaguely resembling the kid you knew? You’re not alone. All parents experience this. That semi-adult is having just as much trouble as the parents adjusting to this transitional stage. When we mediate with parents and teens we find that parents often think their situation is unique: trying to communicate with a sullen teen who is just not listening. Parents often take their kids to therapy when it really is a problem of communication, not a clinical problem. Teens may come in to mediation reluctantly, and when we say we would like to have them commit to four sessions, they balk, but by the end, they usually return. Teens tend to see mediation as nonthreatening. One of the reasons is that we are saying ‘there is nothing wrong with you’, which they think is implied in therapy. Mediation is about communication and helping families restore harmony to the home. This isn’t to say that there aren’t cases that require therapy, not mediation, but after an initial conversation, we can usually tell if the case is appropriate for mediation. Some common issues are: curfew, chores, grades, school attendance, behavior, respect.

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