Including children in mediation

Our family mediators can help give children a voice

When parents separate children and young people can feel isolated and confused.  Sometimes parents cannot decide what the arrangements for their children should be and end up in conflict with one another.  This causes upset and distress to children and their experience of the family breakdown is a negative one.  Although children do not want the pressure of making decisions they do want to feel heard and for their wishes and feelings to be taken into account.  Parents can struggle with knowing what to tell their children and often feel that it is best not to involve the children at all.  It will depend on the age of the child, their level of maturity and individual characteristics but most children and young people have lots of questions.  Parents may worry that they cannot give all the right answers but children generally need the simplest of reassurances.

When parents ask their children specific questions, children can feel awkward and give the answer they think the parent wants to hear, particularly if the child or young person knows that their parents do not get on with one another.  Children generally do and say anything not to upset their parents.

When there is conflict between parents, children may benefit from speaking to an independent qualified person to express their views and feelings in a safe and calm way.

Our mediator Beverley Long is trained and qualified to meet with children and young people.  The decision for a mediator to talk with children and include them in the mediation process has to be considered carefully. In most situations, the mediator will assist the parents to talk and reassure their children without the need for the child or young person to meet the mediator. A child or young person will only be invited to be involved in mediation if both parents agree and if the parents have already been involved in the mediation process about the arrangements for their children.

If the parents consider that their child or children should be involved in mediation, Beverley will talk through the process with the parents and agree what steps should be taken.  Every stage has to be treated sensitively and confidentially.

The child or young person is reassured by Beverley that whatever they say to her is confidential and nothing will be told to their parents without their permission. Some children want the opportunity to let their parents know their thoughts and views and they feel more able and comfortable to do this when the mediator is present.  On occasions the child or young person may prefer to pass on a message through the mediator.

Parents are told that before any meeting they should not influence or tell the child or young person what to say in the mediation meeting.  Parents should not put any pressure on the child or young person or get upset with them if they do not agree or like what their children say.

If you would like more information please do not hesitate to contact Beverley Long on or 01603 679056.