Child Inclusive Mediation
When separating parents are agreeing child arrangements, it is recommended that the wishes and feelings of older children are taken into account. Child Inclusive Mediation gives children a voice within the mediation process.
What is Child Inclusive Mediation?
Child Inclusive Mediation is a structured process where a qualified mediator gives children the opportunity to share their worries and concerns. It enables children to express their wishes and feelings, without the pressure of being responsible for decision making or the fear of upsetting one or both parents.
Child Inclusive Mediation is not about asking children to decide who they should live with or how often they should see their other parent. It is a process that lets them express their feelings about decisions which affect them.
Why does it work?
A child needs to feel heard when their parents separate. Research consistently shows that not having a voice can make children feel insignificant and anxious, often leading to emotional and behavioural problems. Being heard is very different to putting the responsibility of a decision on a child’s shoulders and a professional approach can assist.
Giving children the opportunity to meet an independent person with no agenda, allows them to express their wishes and feelings without fear and worry. It empowers them at a time when they may feel helpless.
Allowing a child to contribute and considering their perspective is likely to produce more workable arrangements that improve the family dynamic. A child may be worrying over something that can easily be resolved but they haven’t told you for fear of causing upset.
Who is it for?
Child Inclusive Mediation can assist families with an older child or children. Children should generally be aged 10 or older and it is only in exceptional circumstances, where younger children may be included.
In some situations, the process may not be appropriate and our accredited specialists would discuss any concerns with you at the outset. Child Inclusive Mediation may not be suitable if:
- Your child is younger than 10 or immature for their age;
- Your child has emotional or cognitive difficulties;
- Numerous agencies are already involved;
- Counsellors or child services do not think it suitable; or
- Both parents are not in agreement
How does it work?
Child Inclusive Mediators undergo extensive training to enable them to meet with children and discuss often sensitive issues.
At your MIAM meeting (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting), the mediator will outline the basics of the process and if you are both keen to proceed, at your first joint meeting you will discuss your understanding and objectives. You will also go through some screening questions to assess suitability and ensure that it is the best approach for you and your family.
With parents’ consent the mediator will then email or write to the child to invite them to a meeting and explain how the process works.
If your child wants to proceed, they will then meet with the mediator alone. Mediators will usually have initial discussions with siblings together before spending individual time with each child.
Children will be asked child focused open ended questions. Discussions will be age appropriate enabling them to express how they feel about your separation and to raise any concerns or worries they have. The mediator will invite them to share their thoughts on how things could be made easier or better for them. The meeting is confidential and children can then decide how their views are to be relayed.
At no point will children be asked to make choices or decisions. The mediator will make it plain that you as parents will together decide the best way forward. Children will be able to tell the mediator what, if any, information they would like to be fed back.
Parents will then attend another mediation session where the mediator will share his or her observations and provide feed-back. This can be an upsetting meeting but it helps you to understand how you can work together to assist your children and make life easier for them.