To Hear And Be Heard – By Genna Varghese

To Hear And Be Heard – By Genna Varghese

I was keen to accept the referral of a homelessness case where parents wanted to restore their relationship with their son. They had seen no option but to ask their son to leave following a chain of disputes over substance abuse and behaviour. These countless arguments resulted in the police being called to the family home and the son being evicted and forced to live in sheltered housing.

Parenting is a strain on any relationship, the mother felt guilty, the father wanted the issue kept within the walls of the home, the son wanted to live his life without overbearing parents. All parties wanted the same outcome for the family to be under one roof, it was a case of each family member really listening to the needs of each other and learning each other’s boundaries.

The police had suggested mediation and there was some indecision as to whether it was the right thing to do.  The son initially declined the opportunity. The parents decided to go ahead with mediation and we talked about their issues and concerns, it soon became apparent that although their interests aligned, they had different approaches on how to resolve the situation. thf2b7diib.jpgAs mediators, we have a trained skillset to actively encourage people to talk through their own thoughts and feelings to understand their own needs and how to express them in a way that’s receptive to the listener.  Our interest, is to enable this process to be a bespoke solution that is suitable for all involved. We agreed that to move the case forward, the most favourable approach would be to see each parent individually to enable them to give their individual perspectives and ask them to encourage the son to engage in mediation.              

The second meetings were a success and we talked to each parent about the best way to express themselves without concern for it conflicting with one and other. The mother missed her son and wanted him home, but had concerns regarding her son’s negative behaviour and her ability to live with it. The father was in denial, wasn’t used to talking to others about private family issues. Both parents wanted their son home and for things to change.

We asked a variety of questions, from identifying the catalyst for their son moving out of the family home, to how they will know things are on the right path again. We assisted the parents in expressing themselves, by reframing inflammatory statements and using neutral language. This helped them to acknowledge each other’s view point.

There were conversations between the parents and son, which resulted in the son choosing to engage in the mediation process. We had two meetings with the son, where we explored his concerns and he was very positive about the future. He acknowledged his behaviour hadn’t been acceptable and he was able to determine what he could do differently if there were future conflicts.

This resulted in all parties being able to have a discussion, set out their own boundaries without arguing and most importantly listen to each other and hear what was being said.

The son moved back with his parents and they all contributed to an agreement on how to approach situations in the future to get to a solution without the police being involved or the need for the son to move out.