The First Step Toward One of Two Very Different Futures

I attended a seminar recently, where a New Hampshire family court judge was kind enough to share his thoughts with a group of family mediators and attorneys. He expressed his belief in mediation as the preferred method of resolving conflict and reaching agreements in family matters. He shared his feeling that parents, rather than judges, were almost always the best people to decide what was in the best interests of children. He went on to explain what he says to those parents who come before him at a time of a separation or divorce, who are unable or unwilling to work together to make those important parenting decisions. He said:

“I tell parents that one part of their relationship will never end - the part that involves co-parenting their children. Then I tell them I would like them to imagine two very different futures:

In Future #1, you were never able to cooperate in raising your children. You had little communication, and when you did try to communicate, you often fought. Your kids were aware of the conflicts and have many sad memories of their childhood. Now, imagine you are approaching a momentous occasion in the life of your adult child. Perhaps it is a wedding day or the birth of your first grandchild. As this big day approaches, your adult child is unable to fully enjoy what is happening, because they are worried about mom and dad. Will they be arguing? How can we manage the day so they do not cause a scene or create tension? What if dad runs into mom’s significant other at the bar or in the waiting room? This worry not only saps the joy out of the occasion, but becomes part of your child’s memories forever.

Now, imagine a different future. In Future #2, you got along well as the kids were growing up. You worked through the difficult times together, put your kids first, and were able to cooperate in co-parenting and raising them. Your children have happy memories of their childhood, and of time spent with both parents, often together. They feel lucky that mom and dad eventually created new families that they, themselves, were an important part of. Their family is in harmony. In this future, the same momentous day is approaching. But in this future, your adult child is able to fully enjoy the big event. Worries about tension or conflict between you, do not even enter their mind. All of you are able to revel in the joy of the occasion together, leaving with nothing but happy memories that will last a lifetime.”

Then this wise, New hampshire family court judge told us this:

“I then tell the parents, that in choosing the manner in which they handle this separation or divorce, either cooperatively or destructively, they will also be choosing the first steps toward one of these two very different futures, for them and their children.”

I think that says it all. It certainly explains why I do what I do every day to try to assist parents who are striving to provide Future #2 for their children.


New Mediator Training Program Developed by Nutfield Mediation

We are pleased to announce a new program offered at Nutfield Mediation to assist new mediators in obtaining their state certification: "Nutfield Mediation's Mediator Bridge Training Program."  This six-session, 12-hour program is selective and offered at no-cost to those new mediators seeking to jump-start their knowledge and who are willing to try to exceed the current state certification Board minimum requirements.

Our inaugural class is currently in session, and we anticipate conducting approximately two programs per year, depending on need.  After completion of the Program, Nutfield Mediation will act as mentor and intern supervisor for qualified candidates for certification.  If you are interested in learning more about this exciting opportunity, contact us today.

If You Have Been Married at Least Ten Years...

Nutfield Mediation's April Tip of the Month

Although mediators are not ethically allowed to provide legal advice or counseling, experienced mediators can provide their clients with a lot of important information. 

For instance, here is a little-known, but valuable piece of information that can be worth thousands of dollars in additional retirement income to you or your ex-spouse:  If you become divorced after at least ten years of marriage, you may be eligible for a higher Social Security benefit than you would qualify for on your own.  And the best part is, this increased benefit will not cost your ex-spouse a dime.  To learn whether you may benefit from this Social Security "ten year rule," follow the link below:


Interviewing the Mediator

I recently had a couple who were facing a divorce, come to my office for a free, initial consultation.  After sitting down at the table together, they asked if it would be okay if they interviewed me for the job of assisting them through the divorce process.  They explained that the interview they were hoping to conduct would include asking me quite a few personal questions.  It only took me a few seconds to let them know that the interview was not only okay, but that I considered it appropriate!

They spent the next 20 minutes or so asking me questions on a wide range of topics, such as my views on religion and politics, whether I had raised any children and how I had raised them, my ethnicity, my mediation style and much more.  I was very open with them, and as the discussion progressed, I realized that they were not so much judging me on my answers, as they were gaining a level of comfort from my willingness to be open with them.  Their consultation lasted about 90 minutes and they contacted me the next day to let me know they had decided they would like to work with me.

The moral of this particular story is not that a good interview usually leads to a job, but rather, that trust is a two-way street.