The Value of Mediation for Family Situations

Family Mediation, Divorce, child custody

Is Your Family Struggling? These Three Tips Will Help Your Family Navigate the Journey to Health and Happiness

If you and your partner are considering divorce or are facing a dynamic you feel is getting out of control, you shouldn’t feel shame. Struggles happen to the very best families — and your goal right now should be making sure all members can find resolution. A split can tear apart a familial unit — especially if there is a messy case that is played out in court. A disruptive teenager or an argument over child custody can make home life difficult for everyone. If you identify with these situations,read on to learn how mediation could create a healthier and less stressing situation for you and your children.

Tip #1: What Can I Expect in a Mediation Session?

Mediation is a legal recourse that keeps you out of court to hash out the details of a separation or a child custody case. It also is beneficial for families working with their angst-filled teenagers or with members who are creating an unhealthy dynamic. In cases of divorce, both parents can meet with a neutral person to talk about legally-binding decisions such as property distribution and custody. In cases of disruptions and arguments, mediators can meet with all members. It’s important to know that a mediator cannot advise either party on decisions that will eventually be made, as he or she is a neutral listener. But one of the best things this professional can do is help all sides see a different perspective and understand it. This leads to mutually agreed upon decisions that are good for everyone.

Tip #2: What Are the Benefits of Mediation?

Separation cases in court can be messy and destructive. A split is difficult on everyone — and in some cases, it can lead to name-calling and angry episodes that alienate children involved. If you have a disruptive teenager or a child who is acting out, it often is because of an underlying issue that you haven’t been able to address. Mediation can help both of these situations — because all sides are brought to a neutral table to discuss their wants, needs and opinions of the current situation. This allows for the free exchange of each person’s thoughts and more open communication. Members cannot avoid one another in a mediation session and must actively work on a solution that benefits the entire health of your familial unit.

Tip #3: How Much Does Mediation Cost?

Mediation costs significantly less other types of recourse — including a court case in situations of divorce or child custody. On average, a court case can cost upwards of $15,000 and can become long and drawn-out, wreaking havoc on life and creating uncertainty in the minds of your children. Summit Conflict Resolution and Trainings welcomes you to one mediation session at a time, and usually can find resolution for you and your children between one and three sessions, depending on the issues your family is struggling with. What we know is that the results don’t lie: Couples who go through mediation report feeling happier and more content with the results — feeling that they each were heard and got what they wanted — than couples who go through court proceedings. That’s not just good for the parents; that’s good for the children, who will sense the unhappiness of their parents. Children who go through mediation with their parents report having a happier and more content home life. This is the result with a professional mediator helping you and your children work through the issues you can’t communicate about on your own.

Mediation does not work for everyone. But, when families try it, they find that it can go a long way in helping both parties come to agreements on financial, custody matters and general communication that end up being good for everyone. Best of all, mediation teaches everyone involved that listening and trying to understand a differing viewpoint develops compassion, lessens anger and improves relationships — even the most contentious. Mediation also costs significantly less than court proceedings, saving the parties involved needed cash to continue providing a future good life for their families following the separation. If you’re ready to try something different than court — or having another argument at the dinner table — then consider setting up your mediation session today.

Changes In Mediation Culture


Three Ways Mediation Culture is Changing and Can Transform Your Business

By: Tonya Howe


Throughout the course of a company’s life, employees and employers may need to enter mediation sessions to work out issues related to work life, human resources and labor negotiations — among others. There are several different kinds of approaches in mediation culture — including what is known as evaluative and facilitative techniques. Learn the top three ways this interpersonal culture is changing and how the latter type of sessions can transform your business for the better.


Tip #1: The Evaluative Approach


The evaluative approach came about through the court system. Attorneys involved in a workplace dispute choose a mediator together and become active participants in the session with the involved parties. The mediator usually has substantive legal experience and has the job of pointing out the cracks in each party’s case. The mediator may then make recommendations — either formal or informal — about what he or she thinks a judge will say in court about the case. While this approach can be helpful, it also can be expensive and intimidating because legal counsel is involved. It could put the party’s on the defensive. There is a better approach that can achieve the interpersonal goals of a business, however.


Tip #2: Another Approach


That approach is called facilitative. This approach emerged in the 1960s and continued to be popular in the 1970s. It is now making a comeback. It involves a hired facilitator who creates a plan for both parties to come together to reach a resolution together. The mediator’s role is to ask questions of the parries and to try to provide context and normalization to each view so that all parties can arrive at some understanding. What is different about this approach is that the mediator does not give recommendations to the parties or express opinions. The meditator does not predict what a judge will rule in the courts.


Tip #3: Why Let the Parties Decide


The strength of the latter approach really is in the power it gives to the dueling parties to work out their issues, arrive at some understanding of one another and mutually agree on an outcome. This process creates a safe and welcoming environment for a disagreement and encourages active listening and partnership. Over time, this approach makes enemies into teammates and helps parties work toward the common good on behalf of the company. If you have a good facilitator who does not take sides but simply tries to listen and to articulate each party’s viewpoint with sensitivity and understanding — then you find that disputing party’s actually begin to understand one another and empathize. They may not agree with each other on every point, but they often to find a way to reach a resolution that is good for everyone involved.


If you are ready to create a happier and healthier workplace culture, then consider hiring a facilitator such as Summit ( and setting up facilitative sessions with your employees. This approach really puts the power back into the hands of the employees who are having a disagreement. By using a facilitator, they help ensure all views are heard and understood. They listen and direct, but they don’t make a decision for the involved parties. At the end of the day, it is up to the disagreeing members to reach a decision — and history shows that if they feel they are being heard, understood and respected, they will be willing to make a step toward one another. You’ll find a stronger and more effective workplace as a result.

Caught Not Taught!

By Adina Cobham Headley

Originally Posted February 9, 2016

In my humble opinion, modeling of behaviors is one the most obvious but underrated forms of parenting! Perhaps you are familiar with that famous saying, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”. Another common saying is, “Don’t just tell me, SHOW ME”! It may also be an understatement for me to suggest that cultural norm and trends across the globe, are ‘caught’ and not necessarily ‘taught’!

Have you ever paid close attention to how babies learn first things? A wave bye-bye, Dada or Mama or first words we want to hear them say. Why just recently, my 12-month old granddaughter watched me while loading the washing machine, and within just a few minutes she grabbed a garment and quickly crawled closer to the machine intent on helping me! Ponder this a moment with me, please. Oh the power of modeling! Our offspring learn faster and mimic our actions and attitude far more quickly than they learn any other language. Talk about the power of silence! For without words, using only actions and attitudes and body language and facial expressions, we as parents, as human beings, model patterns of behaviors that can last a life time in our children. Yes, some characteristics and personality norms are hereditary and we come by them naturally. Why at the very core of human nature is the God-given right of individuality and personal choice! Even today’s developmental and psychological researchers suggest that in every culture, parents or surrogates of children are the natural first models as children mimic behaviors and grow into life patterns.  So, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, positive or negative, societal or family norms are originally ‘caught’ and not ‘taught.  Unpolished or unwanted family traits or societal norms are only addressed, tackled or erase as we grow into adulthood and make the informed choices that would solidify or refine our individual personality.

Therefore, [in conclusion], it behooves us as parents then, to invest in personal parental inventory. A Parenting 101 if you will; of stock taking of those most important behaviors, characteristics, personality traits and habits we truly want our kids to mimic. And it behooves us to be most intentional in personal evaluation as we consider not just the physical, but the emotional and spiritual ‘natural tendencies’ we can foresee in our legacy to our children.

As a closing thought to ponder I pull from Scripture. Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he/she must go and when he/she is old/grown, he/she will not stray from it”.

Ah, The Good Old Days

By: Dr. Dani Vandiviere

Originally posted January 22, 2016


I received a phone call from a dear friend today who was at her wits end. Yes, her kids had only been home less than one day due to snow but the forecast was calling for at least three more days barricaded inside the war zone her kids were making. Frantically she disclosed the issues and we worked to come up with a resolution.
Her daughter an active high school junior was complaining because she couldn’t go shopping with her BFFs, so she wants to have a sleep over tonight so they could shop online. Her eldest son is fourteen and bugging her about going ahead and buying his first car since he got recent birthday money from the grandparents, and he said he and dad could park it in the garage and work on it when his dad got back from his conference next week. Last but not least was her sweet little ten-year-old son who wanted to play with power tools to build something in the living room because he could not find anything to do!
She wanted help, but also ideas to keep them busy. I adore her and her kids, but they were out of control and she was losing it. With three intelligent kids we tossed around some ideas to bring peace to her house. I had an idea last year that I used last winter with a neighbor that I thought might work this time too. My friend has been doing a project for the past few weeks to surprise her mother with the family ancestry and loves it, she was a history major in college. So I made a suggestion that would play to the interests of all three kids and help her calm down as well.
She would bring the kids together and they would pick a time in history from the family tree and see what life was like back then. They would find a man and a woman and look at what certain months in their lives would have been like. The daughter would look for fashion at that time and then draw designs using various ideas to modernize what she saw and take something from today and design it for back then. Accessories included of course!
The boys would work on researching the tools, transportation and how things were built and of course what the kids played with.
Actually, it worked! When my friend called back all was at peace and kids were enjoying it and they are also working together. As for the BFFs, only the one who lived within walking distance came for the night and she is having as much fun as everyone else.
Being a parent is the most difficult job in the world. Any opportunity you have to work with the strengths and interests of your children is a winner. You not only show them you have paid attention to the things they like to do, but it also gives them a sense of belonging and since you did notice that, you really do care.