Blended Family Mediation

Blended Family Mediation is a process designed to help two families come together, often after the parents have married or entered into a new relationship. It involves resolving many of the challenges and conflicts that can arise when combining different families, parenting, and children from previous relationships. Here are some important points we consider when helping two families become one through our Blended Family Mediation Services:

Understanding and understanding

Our first step as the mediator is to first understand the unique nature of each family, including the parents’ background, values, and parenting practices. Secondly, we seek to understand the needs and concerns of the child or children.

Communication

Good communication is important in any negotiation process. We encourage open and honest communication among family members within the mediation sessions. At the same time, we are present to assist family members in providing respectful responses. Throughout mediation, we are working to create and provide the family a tested and proven method in which to have hard conversations in a safe structured manner without the fear of retaliation, or simply without fear of being met with anger. Each conversation within mediation provides practice for the family to utilize the tools that are put in place, to maintain a peaceful and respectful forum for all parties involved (even the little ones). We work at teaching good listening skills to help participants understand better, as well as teach participants how to remain respectful, even when being honest.

Defining Responsibilities and Expectations

A very important part of Blended Family Mediation is to create clarity around the responsibilities and expectations of all family members, especially regarding parental responsibilities, rules at home, and money. Our main goal is to make sure everyone’s needs and concerns are heard and considered.

Set Common Goals

Next, we work with your family to identify common goals and shared values. This helps create unity and purpose in the blended family. A common goal could be a fun family vacation, in which case we can discuss ways in which all members of the family will help to make this goal become a reality. When discussing core values, we approach the topic in the same way a business approaches such a topic. What is most important to the family as a whole? Once there are 3-5 agreed upon core values, it is important that everyone commit to following those values at all times within the household, or outside of the household when interacting with family members from the household. Whether it be during a discussion between parent and child or between siblings, the same decorum needs to be followed.

Problem Solving

This is a huge part of all our mediations, because of course, we are problem solvers. However, this is our career, so we have had extensive training and years of experience as to how best approach a problem and the proper steps to follow when trying to resolve them. Most adults still struggle with solving problems in any efficient manner, so to expect children and/or young adults to not only understand when a problem is present, but also to know how to approach and resolve a problem in a healthy manner, is really asking a lot. Thinking back to when I was in my teens or early twenties, the smallest problem felt like the end of the world. Our worlds are very small when we are young. It is vital that parents in a blended family maintain perspective regarding the age and capabilities of the children in your family. I grew up in a blended family and boy did we struggle (we still do, and I am nearly 50)! There are so many emotions, both positive and negative that surface within blended families that are not present in non-blended families. Maintaining that balance of expectations for the adults versus the expectations of the children cannot be highlighted enough.

Therefore, within the mediation sessions we will work to develop problem-solving strategies and strategies that family members can use when conflict arises. It is important to understand how to resolve conflicts rather than resorting to aggression or avoidance. It is equally important to understand, and teach our children, that conflict in and of itself is not bad, or negative. Conflict will always be part of our lives. However, it is how that conflict is handled that makes all the difference in the world. And teaching our children to understand that and respect the process in resolving conflicts in a healthier manner is a gift that will support them for the rest of their lives.

Parenting Plan

If there is not a stable or well-functioning parenting plan in place, through mediation we can help parents create a desirable parenting plan for all children involved. This may include discussing custody arrangements, visitation arrangements, and parenting strategies. Such a discussion could involve not only one household, but the other household(s) as well. The more members of the large, extended, blended family we can connect with and provide tools to, the more harmonious everyone’s lives will be.

Relationship between parents and children

We will talk through various solutions to the most common problems found in parent-child and step-parent-child relationships. We will also discuss how you can each support each other within the co-parenting relationship, to enable you each to be the best parent you can be, to every child within the blended family. This is a place where the other parents involved (previous spouses, etc.) may also be involved in the conversation. This is a large puzzle we are putting together, and it can only be a complete picture if all the pieces are accounted for.  It is important for all parties to learn how to best support the relationships between their children and their new partners or their ex’s new partners. We understand it can be extremely difficult in the beginning, and we are not trying to minimize the emotions that will be involved in this journey. It is important to note, most blended families are not ready to come into a process like this right away. It is typically a few years into the new dynamic that parties seek out help. 

Family Bonds

Part of being part of a family is participating in events and activities together. The holidays and vacations in first 2-3 years as a blended family are certain to be awkward. However, as time goes by, building new traditions and memories together will help to establish the bonds that every family dreams of.  It is important to facilitate family cooperation to help build relationships among all family members. These activities help create a sense of unity and solidarity.

Cultural Sensitivity

It is also important to open the discussion around any cultural differences within the blended family. Each family member should understand and respect the different cultures and different family backgrounds that exist in their blended family. These differences can affect family dynamics and should be considered during the negotiation process.

Follow-up and support

We are always here to provide follow-up meetings and support to ensure effective implementation and implementation of discussion strategies. As your blended family reaches new heights, you may desire ongoing support.

Legal decisions

If needed, we can discuss legal issues such as custody agreements and financial arrangements and draft a parenting plan for you to file with the court.

Confidentiality and Confidentiality:

Rest assured, the mediation process is private and confidential so that participants can feel safe discussing sensitive issues.

The purpose of family mediation is to help families create peace and harmony, and a supportive environment where all members can thrive. Although this process does not eliminate all challenges, it can provide families with tools and strategies to resolve these issues and build a good, loving relationship.