Our family members are those we have a unique bond with, you will know the old sayings – ‘blood is thicker than water’ and ‘you can you choose your friends but not your family’! However, like any other relationship tensions can rise and relationships within families can fracture, impacting on other family members, sometimes for a lifetime. Over the last week the very public disintegration of the relationship between royal brothers William and Harry has played out in the media. However, their relationship troubles mirror those of many families, royalty or not!
Family relationships are complex and multifaceted, any number of issues may lead to tensions and breakdown of relationships. For example:
- Communication breakdown: When family members are not able to effectively communicate with each other, misunderstandings and misinterpretations can occur, leading to tension and conflict.
- Financial stress: Money problems can cause a lot of stress and lead to arguments and tension within a family.
- Change and transition: Life changes and transitions, such as divorce, the birth of a child, a child leaving home, or the death of a family member, relationship breakdown and Will’s, can be difficult for families to navigate and can lead to arguments, tension and conflict.
- Trauma and mental health: Childhood trauma and mental health issues can impact how family members interact with each other, leading to tension and conflict.
- Behaviours of teenage/adult children, or their choice of friends, partners, substance abuse, gambling , can all impact on relationships within the family circle.
- Care of a disabled, ill or elderly relative can also result in conflict over care and finance
It’s also important to remember that family relationships are dynamic and can change over time, what may not have caused tension in the past may become an issue in the present and vice versa.
The recent reported breakdown in the relationship between Prince Harry and Prince William has highlighted the importance of seeking help to resolve conflicts and repair relationships within families. It is clear that the brothers have experienced a significant amount of disruption in childhood with the trauma of bereavement and the aftermath that has come to fore now. Finding a way to move forward and heal their relationship, may be challenging. One potential solution for their family and any family dealing with similar issues is to engage with family mediation.
What is family mediation?
Family mediation is a process in which a professional third party, called a mediator, helps individuals and families resolve conflicts and reach agreements. The mediator facilitates communication between the participants, empowering them to explore options for resolving the issues they bring to the process. Mediation is used in a variety of circumstances, for example, separation/ divorce, child residency/access, family finances and many other family-related issues that have resulted in conflict and estrangement. It is a voluntary process and the participants must agree to engage in order for mediation to begin . The goal of mediation is to help the family members to engage in conversation, to give everyone a voice, all experiences and opinions will be heard in a safe, neutral space. The mediator managing the conversations, assisting in option generating, facilitating time and space to consider ideas put forth by family as to how they may breach the impasse, resolve the dispute, work on communication going forward, as a foundation for rebuilding their family relationship.
Benefits of mediation
- Mediation is private and confidential – mediation takes place in a private setting where the all can speak freely and confidentially. Everyone will be heard in a safe and neutral environment.
- Mediation is not adversarial – mediation is a collaborative process in which the family members work together to find a solution that is mutually acceptable. This can be empowering and reduce stress and help rebuild trust.
- Mediation can help the participants understand each other’s perspective. In a heated argument, it can be easy to become entrenched in your own point of view and not see things from the other person’s perspective. A mediator can help the those involved take a step back and understand each other’s needs and experiences, which can make it easier to find a resolution.
- Mediation can help repair family relationships – mediation is based on communication and therefore can help families better understand each other and reach a place of mutual understanding and respect.
Mediation is not counselling – it is future focused.
Of course, it’s important to remember that family mediation is not suitable for everyone. At FMNI potential participants will go though an assessment process to make sure they are mediation ready and that this is the right service at the right time. Find out more here.