The importance of family mediation in the face of new paradigm shifts.

In the framework of the Europarent project, Systeme in Bewegung e. V., Winsen, (Germany), in which entities from Greece, Bulgaria, Spain and Austria participate, we are reflecting very deeply on the problems of the new European families and the professionalization that institutions and professionals that work with families need, in order to provide adequate help.

We believe that 'Europe works best on a small scale', and that is why this step must be cared for with extraordinary care.

In this article we have allowed ourselves to reflect on whether adapting to the new family relationships that emerge after COVID19 will require an even greater defense of family mediation and support for families. Will parents know how to adapt to this new digitization of relationships? To the new models of School and leisure? Do we have to be prepared to solve the social conflicts of the future?

Family mediation is a process that aims to get parents to work together in order to reach agreements in conflict situations, with a view to reorganizing family relations, taking into account all the systems involved in the dynamics.

Conflict, which is part of human relations, implies a relational dynamic characterized by an inability to communicate, difficulty in decentralizing one's own point of view and an inability to evolve and get out of the impasse one finds oneself in during a separation or any other context of family conflict.

If on the one hand there is division, conflict and detachment, what seems to be most important is the will to establish a dialogue about the children, pushing the parents to make common decisions about them, supporting joint parenting, that is, a way of being parents together, with the aim of becoming allies to evaluate and make the best decisions for the future of their children.

Therefore, the issues that must necessarily be addressed in mediation concern reunification (as parents), bonding, belonging. These are the reflections made to the partners who participate in the mediation, who are helped by themselves for what is commonly called "change", but which becomes a fundamental aspect in the mediation. "Change" is defined as a new way of thinking, making decisions and being towards each other and their children. Change emerges as an inevitable aspect of the human condition, since all our cells are constantly changing, as well as our brain connections, which can lead to changing our way of thinking and thus of acting.

Therefore, the mediation process includes the following objectives: the reduction of conflicts (in which awareness of mutual responsibilities is essential), the achievement of agreements regarding the management of any potential children, the achievement of economic agreements, the reorganization of family relations and the development and increase of co-parenting. All these objectives have been interconnected.

For parents, the goal of freeing their children from their high conflict, that is, avoiding involving them in their disputes, is very important. Motivation towards the well-being and greater stability of children should enable them to set aside their difficulties and focus on their children, in order to better reach constructive and economic agreements of various kinds. Both parental figures experience an evolution during the mediation process: from adversaries, as is normal at the beginning of the process, they become allies, towards reaching concrete and constructive agreements for their children.

The success of mediation depends largely on the expertise of the operator who takes care of the couple in question. The mediator does not provide psychotherapy, legal advice or arbitration; if he initiates a mediation, he is not a family counsellor. His tasks do not include the perspective of conciliation and for this reason he does not need to investigate the causes that led the couple to the conflict.

The family mediator works so that we learn to handle the natural conflict in a balanced, positive, empathic way, in a dramatic moment for the couple; full of stress and anxiety, full of doubts and insecurities. Often, the unpleasant events surrounding separation and conflict can be overcome through the family mediator: he or she is prepared to avoid the consequences of an event that, if experienced and managed negatively, can have traumatic and tragic consequences, especially for weaker subjects, such as children, often forgotten because their parents are busy arguing with each other.

In this way we understand the importance of this professional figure, who can establish a confidential, sincere, true and positive relationship with those involved and help them recover their repressed or forgotten communication skills. It encourages the analysis of the reasons for the discord between the spouses and allows them to release the conflict not by repressing it, but by allowing the couple to rediscover a new honesty and transparency.

Author: Francisca Carbone.

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