Mediation Matters: Including children in family mediation
When parents are going through a separation period and there’s a child involved, then this tends to complicate matters. Here, the question arises that should we include a child in the whole mediation process or not. During the general litigation process, the judges are generally uncomfortable seeing a child in the courtroom, and more than often they try to hold a rapport with the child in a separate chamber. So, one can see that mediation service is a better option in confronting a child during separation of parents than normal litigation.
However, mediators need to be careful about the type of questions they put up in front of the child, because if they don’t than this can put the child in nerve raking psychological condition. The type of questions that should be put in front of the child should be like:-
1. Children need to be assured that they still have a mom and dad who care about them.
2. Children should not be asked questions which tell them to choose between their parents. This tends to put them in a dilemma and complicate the whole situation.
3. Children generally want to be with a parent they are completely dependent on.
4. Children are generally not mature enough to tell what is good and what is not. They‘d rather be with a parent who gives them chocolates than a parent who is a disciplinarian.
5. The children should never be asked question which tends to increase their dilemma and make them fear reprisal.
There are suitable times when the mediator meets the family. The mediator should arrange a formal meeting with the whole family only after an agreement reaches its final stage. It is here that he can explain the details of the whole matter to the children involved.
If you are meeting a child of below the age of 9 or 10, then do keep some toy or plaything handy. Most of the time children of this age understand things better when they are playing. You can gradually build a rapport with the child and tell him about the whole issue in a gentle manner, by the following process:-
1. Tell them that mom and dad were concerned about them and that they meant the world to the.
2. Ask them what they adored about mom/dad.
3. Ask them what they detest about mom/dad.
4. Ask them about their expectations from their parents.
5. Tell them you are right now dealing with mom and dad on parental issues.
6. Last, but not the least ask them if they want you to hide something and not reveal it to their parents.
7. Do make sure they have comprehended the whole issue and what you are going to do with the piece of information they divulged.
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