Family Mediation Week 2021: day 4 – What about Me?

“What about me?” is a recent report of the FAMILY SOLUTIONS GROUP. 

The report calls for greater support for those experiencing divorce and separation, especially children.  In particular, the need for: 

  • Reframing family breakdown away from ‘justice’ language, towards an understanding of child welfare.
  • A Framework of Support Services for Children and Young People – led by a ‘place to go online’ where children and parents will feel secure as accessing correct and objective information.
  • A holistic approach – bundled services, where having support is the norm and the justice system is the exception.
  • Parenting Programmes to be requirement on separation

Mediators have long practised with the ethos that the child’s voice should be heard; the Family Solutions Group’s recommendations are good news.  Child Inclusive Mediation promotes child welfare and ensures easy access to correct information and direct services, especially for children. 

Having children involved directly in mediation isn’t them making the decisions. They won’t be asked who they want to live with or how much of their time to spend in each house.  But they will be asked how they feel and, having been given the space to express those feelings and opinions, to confirm what the mediator can share with the parents to help them make better decisions.  

Children can take part in mediation from the age of around 10 (sometimes younger if they display the necessary maturity and/or are part of a sibling group).  Involving older children in mediation works particularly well. It can be difficult for teenagers to express themselves and handle all their conflicting emotions (and hormones!) at the best of times and that becomes more amplified in separated families. They definitely have their own voice, their own needs and their own social calendars – which they really want to be heard on.

Divorce and separation affect not just the couple but the whole family.  Mediation is a great space to talk about all the issues that are related to that separation; including pets, school, homework, extra-curricular and hobbies, new partners… you name it, it has probably been covered in a mediation somewhere.