Preventing Family Conflicts Through Mediation

Preventing Family Conflicts Through Mediation

All families go through the occasional argument. In some cases, a long-standing problem can manifest as a series of arguments. If the root cause of th

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All families go through the occasional argument. In some cases, a long-standing problem can manifest as a series of arguments. If the root cause of the dispute can’t be addressed, then the result might be misery for everyone involved – or even a rift in the family.

In many cases, you can address the problem yourselves. But this isn’t always possible. Much like any other kind of conflict, the input of a third-party mediator or solicitor might be crucial.

The role of family mediation

Everyone in your family might have a vested interest in resolving the dispute in one direction. Even where this incentive doesn’t exist, it’s easy to perceive someone as taking sides – especially when they’re siding against you.

A mediator can avoid this problem. They’re someone who is outside of the family, and thus disinterested. They’re also someone with experience and expertise in solving conflicts. They’ll understand which questions to ask, and how to keep a discussion on the right track.

Common causes of family conflicts

Family conflict can be triggered by a vast range of potential catalysts. But in practice, a few common triggers stand out. Mediation efforts will often seek to identify these as quickly as possible.

Generational differences between children and parents might be a problem, especially when families are spending lots of time on social media, and digesting completely different sets of facts and ideas.

Money can also contribute to familial strife. It might be that the family finances are under pressure, because there isn’t enough income to cover all of the expenses. This can foster resentment, especially if some family members are perceived to be sacrificing more than others.

On a related note, we have inheritance disputes. If some family members stand to gain more than others, or gain in a way that is not proportionate with merit, then arguments and resentment can (and often will) follow.

Signs of escalating conflicts

Family breakdown tends to happen (to borrow a phrase from Hemingway) gradually, and then suddenly. By recognising the warning signs, we can often prevent the explosive conflict. If you’re having the same argument over and over again, or you feel that you’re having to bite your tongue, or walk on eggshells, then the likelihood is considerable that you’ll be dealing with this problem again in the future.

Tips for resolving conflicts

Fortunately, family conflicts aren’t doomed to spiral. You just have to build on a few core skills. Develop active listening skills, and try to take a moment to empathise with the other person’s point of view. Set healthy boundaries, so that you aren’t always stepping on one another’s toes, and try to look for win-win solutions to problems. If you only win an argument when the other person loses, then the relationship is, almost by definition, competitive rather than collaborative.

The mediation process

So, how does mediation actually work in practice?

It will tend to start with a consultation. You’ll set out the problem here. It might be that you are divorcing, and need an arrangement that will suit the children without going to court.

A satisfactory result often takes many sessions. You’ll discuss the problem and explore what compromises might be possible. By the end, you’ll have developed a plan to resolve the dispute.

After the mediation is done with, you might arrange follow-up sessions to review how things are going, and assess whether the measures you’ve taken have actually been effective.

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