ELDER/ADULT FAMILY MEDIATION
When conflicts arise over decisions regarding transitional life changes of a loved one, or the estate of a relative, we guide family members through discussions to reach an acceptable agreement that is decided by the involved parties, not by the courts, and helps to preserve longstanding relationships. Decisions about a parent’s living situation, including choosing an appropriate facility can be fraught with tension. With adult children dispersed, and often far from family, siblings find themselves in contentious situations surrounding the care of aging parents. This is an all too prevalent occurrence. With the increase in longevity, we find seniors re-marrying at late ages and confronting the challenge of blending families consisting of older, adult children. These family permutations can lead to difficult conflicts that benefit from the intervention of a neutral third party.
Typical issues raised during mediation that involve the elderly include:
- Living arrangements
- Legal responsibilities
- Roles of siblings
When parents and teens are having difficulty talking, mediation is a way to achieve a plan for resolving differences and working out a ‘co-existence plan’ to avoid more serious consequences, such as trouble with schools or the justice system. The transition to adolescence can be fraught with family tension, a difficult time for teens as well as parents. Communication, which might have been strong when children were young, can be strained as teens become more independent and are faced with increasing challenges, both academically and socially. Mediators help parents and teens find a means of communicating and offer them the opportunity to hear one another. Parents and teens get the opportunity to speak directly and express concerns and feelings. Teens tend to be more receptive to mediation than therapy because the adolescent is not being told that there is something wrong with them; the problem is with the family communication skills. (However, mediation does not replace therapy if therapeutic help is needed.) Some of the issues that bring parents and teens to mediation are:
- Substance abuse
- Troublesome associations with peers
- Confrontational behavior
When families are faced with a crisis, mediation is a good way to begin a family discussion to improve family relations. The ‘sandwich generation’ finds themselves struggling to balance parents and children, which can create friction and misunderstandings. The relationship between teen or adult siblings can be disruptive to a household and family, making it difficult to celebrate occasions together. Talking Alternatives tries to help families communicate and understand the needs and roles of family members and of the generations. There are many instances where families are torn apart by substance abuse (by parents or children), illness or disability. Couples who have divorced sometimes need help to begin a conversation again to re-focus on the needs of their family. Our mediators help families have these necessary, but difficult, conversations.
Talking Alternatives provides conflict coaching on a confidential one-on-one basis. Conflict coaching uses individualized instruction to develop alternative dispute resolution skills. This service is helpful to those who are considering mediation to resolve a dispute or for those already involved in mediation who want to acquire further insight into how to work toward a non-confrontational resolution. Conflict coaching is a results-oriented process that is goal driven.