Mediation restores an estranged family

Respect between parents and their teenage son had been eroding for months. When the teenager blew up and left home, the family turned to mediation for help. Here’s their story.

The family walked into the mediators’ office and tension flooded the room. The mediators introduced themselves. Everyone was cordial—yet a perceived hardness pulled at the corners of the eyes and mouths of the parents and their two teenage children. One of the mediators caught a split second flash of brightness in the eyes of the older brother when he glanced at his kid sister. She returned the look. It had been six months since she’d seen her estranged brother whom she so admired.

Troubled communication between the parents and their son

As the family talked their story unfolded. Over the years, the parents and their son gradually lost respect for one another. Eventually, almost all, but the most mundane communication ceased—until the explosion. The son declared, “I’m outta here and I’m never coming back!” The issues at stake were not that unusual. The parents felt their son was sloppy, unclean, and disrespectful. The son thought his parents were controlling and demanding and never listened to him. Each family member held tenaciously to the perceived rightness of their respective positions, but it was ripping the family apart.

Learning to listen

The mediators asked the family to talk about all the ways they could show one another respect. They gave them a chance to listen to each other and to really communicate for the first time, perhaps, in years. A positive shift in their attitudes towards one another began to show. The hardness in the eyes of the teenage boy visibly softened. A tear slipped out of the corner of the mother’s eye. A calm silence gave everyone a chance to breathe. When one of the mediators commented that, “You all really love each other don’t you?” everyone melted and the tears flowed. The mediators simply observed the magic of the moment, knowing that this family was now on a path toward restoration.

Are there relationships in your life that need restoration?

Mediation can help you mend a broken relationship. Contact your community DRC today for a free consultation.

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Why DRC mediation?

DRCs reduce the burdens of the courts, saving taxpayers money, and increasing access to justice for traditionally underserved populations. In 2019 DRCs mediated 5,070 cases, successfully settling 64% of them. 90% of clients reported mediation improved their situation.

Annually DRCs appropriate over $2 million worth of volunteer hours, directly serve over 55,000 people, indirectly serve 200,000 people whose lives are positively affected by mediation and other services and reach out to over 7 million Washington residents.

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