What Is Child Inclusive Mediation?
When parents come to mediation they frequently discuss what their lives will look like now they have separated and fundamental to their decision making is what will be best for the children.
As you might imagine children also have concerns about the changes taking place in their family and will have worries about what lies ahead, for example :
- Where will they live?
- Will they stay in the same house?
- How will they see both of their parents?
- What about their friends, clubs, school, activities?
- How about family pets … will they see the dog?
- What about Grandma and Grandad?
Child Inclusive Mediation gives children a voice and an opportunity to share their worries and concerns whilst their parents are in mediation without the pressure of feeling responsible for decision making or feeling that they have to take sides.
We know that at this time of uncertainty children value the chance to share their worries and concerns, and contribute to the plans for the future.
Your mediator will talk to you about how your children can contribute, and if you both agree, the mediator will arrange to meet with your children separate to the meetings between you and your ex-partner.
These meetings can be arranged at a convenient time for everyone and usually take place in a neutral place such as the office, or in a school building after school hours.
Your mediator will discuss with your children the things you agree need to be considered such as if you are thinking of selling the family home how will that affect them? And how they will see both parents now you are separated? Including your children in mediation provides them with an opportunity to express any concerns. This is particularly useful as their concerns are often different from yours.
The meeting with the children is confidential and they can then decide how their views and opinions are relayed to you as their parents.
In cases where children have been allowed to share their views in mediation, parents have worked together to make sure their children’s wishes become a reality.
At NFM all our child-inclusive mediators are DBS checked to enhanced level.
Having a Voice
Research findings show that above all else children want you, as their parents, to reassure them that life will go on and will be fine, that they are not to blame for your split, and that you are going to work together for them.
But crucially they want to have a say. It is after all their life too.
What Are The Benefits of Child Inclusive Mediation?
- It’s confidential
- You can develop ideas and try out arrangements to see if they work for the whole family, without being constrained by court orders or statutory involvement, such as local authority or Cafcass
- It’s voluntary everybody agrees to try it
- It helps you develop new methods of communication and prevents the children from becoming the messenger
We appreciate it’s a difficult time for everyone but children can come out of it relatively well if you as parents can communicate with each other about your children’s needs today and in the future, even though your relationship has ended. Here you can read more about how to help your children to come to terms with your divorce.
In Child Inclusive Mediation parents are assured that:
- Children will not be asked to make choices or decisions
- Parental authority is respected
- Children are seen only with the agreement of both parents
- We will discuss fully the process and purpose of a “listening meeting” before involving children.
When are children involved?
Children can be involved in the mediation process at different stages for example :
- Children can be invited to meet with the mediator at an early stage, to ensure that their issues are included in the parental agenda
- Once options have been identified and explored, in order to hear their views and take them into account
- At the end, to communicate and explain proposed future arrangements and to “fine-tune” them in light of children’s response
- More than once
- For an individual or family meeting.
Here are some comments from children who have experienced child-inclusive mediation
“It helped me to say how I felt about my Dad”
“It helped me to see things a bit differently. I thought about solutions rather than just seeing problems”
“I felt it was a good experience because it made it clear as to what would happen”
Here are some comments for parents who have experienced child-inclusive mediation
“Without this service my children would not be seeing their dad. Now they are happy and we are friends”
“It was helpful to find out what my daughter liked and didn’t like about our separation. I don’t think I would have ever known about these otherwise”
Your NFM mediator will be able to offer appointments for your children to be included in the mediation if you think it would help them. To find out more about Child Inclusive Mediation get in touch with us via email, give us a call, or book an appointment with a mediator.
NFM is an approved and accredited training provider for child-inclusive mediation. NFM mediators are accredited by the Family Mediation Council, the regulatory body for family mediators.