Friday, 31 December 2010

Mediated Christmas Agreements

Over the holidays whilst preparing Christmas lunch for my family I thought about
the agreements that I had mediated the past year, a lot of them involving where
children should spend Christmas.

There have been so many permutations, alternate holiday years and then the
question is who has the first Christmas with the children – odd and even years? But
then the question can be is Christmas one or two days? or some families who are
from the continent consider the 24th December is the most important day. I have
agreed a split Christmas day, but then who serves the Christmas meal? The other
issues that have to be considered is transport to and from the Christmas venue,
introducing new partners and what everyone wants to eat..Not even taking into
account where the stockings are opened, the presents being bought, one from each
parent, joint presents....These issues continue well into adult hood and sometimes
parents feel able to spend the day together which is marvellous but we may then
draw up a list of boundaries that will be need to be respected. I haven’t even
touched on the involvement of grandparents...I now have a list in my files of all the
possibilities and I draw on this if necessary.

So the next time someone calls me and says ‘we just want you to mediate about
Christmas it’s quite straightforward and won’t take long’... I will pull out my 4 page
list of previous agreements...

I hope you all had a peaceful and harmonious Christmas.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Understanding How Divorce Affects Teenagers - Miley Cyrus’s example.

Reading about Miley Cyrus’s reaction to her parent’s separation did not surprise me.  It is a common misconception that the older the children are the more they are able to cope with the separation of their parents.

Understanding how divorce affects teenagers is important for parents, common feelings are ones of betrayal and also feeling ‘lost’ albeit they are old enough to understand what is going on.  Teenagers can feel both angry with the situation but also feel blame for the situation. It can be helpful to explain to the children that just as they were not responsible for you getting married neither are they responsible for the separation or divorce.

As parents it is so important to talk to your teenagers about your situation and explain to them that the problems that you are having as parents are not about the child/teenager.  Separation or divorce does not mean that parents love their children any less but just relates to their feelings towards each other.  Whatever happens in their marriage they will continue to be your parents – that relationship will never change.

It is important that parents aim towards working together in their new relationship as ‘co-parents’ and help their children to understand their feelings and try to forgive the parent they are angry with.

Monday, 22 November 2010

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary process that only takes place when both parties agree. The
process is confidential and the terms of the discussion are not disclosed to any party
outside of the mediation room.

It is an effective way of resolving disputes. When using a specialist family mediator
it can help parties to reach an outcome they are both ready to accept.

If no agreement is reached the parties are still able to court and the details of what
went on within the mediation room will not be disclosed.

Mediation is not an easy option as on many occasions’ parties may not have
seen each other for some time and it is difficult to discuss complex financial and
emotional issues.

The role of the mediators is to help the parties to reach a solution to their problems
and to arrive at an outcome that both parties are happy to accept.

Mediators are trained, impartial and do not make judgements. They are responsible
for identifying the issues, focussing the parties on future based decisions and for
developing effective communication as well as helping the parties to reach an

Cressida Burnet