As in the old saying “teach a man to fish”, mediation can offer gems of parenting wisdom that can stand the test of time. Instead of being “given a fish and fed for the day”, you may be “taught how to fish”, which can make you a better parent (feed you) for a lifetime. Because mediation encourages participants to commit to better communication, planning, listening and conflict resolution strategies, learning these skills can be a natural part of the mediation process.
Mediation requires a commitment from both parties to work at a practical and emotional level to resolve their difficulties. You may be working with a relocating partner to craft a complex international parenting plan, coping with hurt and regret from your divorce and the challenge of guiding your children through your divorce. Mediation teaches flexibility and communication techniques to handle such changes. Mediation can be a short-term process to draft settlements or parenting plans. Mediation can also be an ongoing long-term process that can diagnose and manage family conflict. At Boileau Conflict Solutions, our mediation services include ongoing conflict management for those who need it. Mediation is a process that empowers and invites parties to participate in decision-making instead of remaining passive in a courtroom setting.
So what kind of skills might you learn in mediation that can make you a better parent?
Active Listening to Make your Child Feel Heard
Active listening involves actively attempting to understand another person’s perspective, showing that you are committed to understanding them and coming from a place of non-judgement and openness. It encourages opening up and sharing by asking open-ended questions, reflecting back what the person has said to let them know you’ve heard, and reframing provocative statements in calmer ways to ease conflict. Active listening teaches how to make your child feel heard, rather than projecting your own worries and fears onto your child. If your child is hurting during divorce, it is very important to keep lines of communication open.
Facilitating, Not Controlling
A mediator’s job is to empower parties to make their own decisions. When planning for the future after divorce, you will have to accept that your spouse is different from you in order to work with them. Mediation models a facilitative approach to working with other people. Children need encouragement and boundaries, not control and rigidity. Learning to let go of control and value your child’s individual contribution will give your child the opportunity to grow
Modeling Constructive Conflict Resolution
Conflict can’t be avoided, so teaching children how to resolve conflict in a constructive manner builds resilience, patience and proactive approaches to working with others. One of the best ways to model positive conflict resolution is to do so with your spouse – and even if your marriage didn’t work out, it’s your choice to move gracefully together into the future.
Acknowledging different Interests
Self-interest is a fact of life, and learning how to acknowledge diverging interests and find resolutions is an important parenting skill. It’s particularly important if you have more than one child. At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we incorporate game theory into our conflict resolution strategies. Different interests can be the raw material for well-functioning teams, or they can be fuel for conflict. Positive parenting teaches the former, acknowledging both individual and group needs.
Solving problems through mediation can teach you how to be a quiet, solid presence in your child’s life even in difficult times like divorce. When you choose dispute resolution rather than litigation in divorce, it’s an opportunity to forge a better way ahead. At Boileau Conflict Solutions we can help you support your children through divorce and beyond, by giving you the tools to solve practical and emotional problems. We are caring well-educated mediators with backgrounds in psychology as well as the law. We can help you view your conflict dynamics as systems using family systems theory and support your child’s development through attachment theory. We can help you move towards a positive co-parenting relationship with your ex- spouse if desired. Please see our previous blog on research that shows a positive relationship with your child matters most (link). We are available 7 days a week and in crisis situations at our offices in Campbell, CA, Irvine, CA and Boulder, CO. Please visit us at our offices or Telephone, Skype, Zoom or Facetime to see how we can help.