I feel that one of POGO’s main jobs is letting parents know that there are tools out there that can help repair difficult relationships with their adult children. Since mediation is one of the best ways to bring about healing, I’ve reproduced a sample document that was used successfully to overcome estrangement.
Parent and adult child agree to accept each other as they are now. They don’t have to like what the other does or how the other one is, but they agree to accept each other as they are. Parent and adult child agree to a new way of communicating with one another.
- Coming from the “I” place: For instance, “When you say x, it makes me feel defensive and then I close off.” The person responding to this does not have to respond immediately; they can ask for time to think things over, or they can answer in any appropriate way, understanding that they have simply received information.
- They agree to talk about themselves without using comparisons, like “I feel x, but you don’t.”
- They agree not to label one another i.e. “You are…”
- They agree to check out assumptions with each other.
- They agree to help each other stick to this model of communication.
- They acknowledge each others’ perceptions and feelings. For example, “I understand that you see it this way, and I can accept that as your view even though mine is different.”
- When talking about a third party, it is important to include him or her. For instance, “This is my perception of how x is feeling, but check it out with her.”
- Don’t try to get a third person to support or accept or buy into your perception. Do not try to get an ally.
- Use the style of no “wrong” or “right,” but rather just different perceptions.
- Talk of yourself not someone else i.e. “My perception is x” rather than “Our perception is x.”
- The intention of the above is to open up communications, not close them off.
- After three months, parent and adult child will assess the effect of the above on their relationship and decide together if they want to continue or modify anything.
This is the document that emerged from a successful parent/adult child session with a general mediator.
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