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Conflict Preparedness For Youth- Are We Just Hoping They Will Learn These Skills?
Sep 10th, 2015 by Families First Mediation

Teaching youth to better manage conflict are not skills that are being taught, unless there has already been a problem. We are reactive. Are these skills that we hope young people gain through life experiences and by watching us adults model them. Is hope enough? Let’s be proactive about teaching these skills instead.

I was recently on a radio show discussing Youth and Conflict and I’ve had some great feedback. It would seem that I’m not alone in thinking that if we spent any time training our youth how to communicate, engage in conflict in a positive manner and negotiate that we might just see better results.

You can listen to it here

 

This isn’t about placing blame. Are the schools failing our kids? Are we as parents not doing enough to help them manage through these tough years? Is anyone really listening to our youth?

This is about finding a way to fill the gap that so obviously exists. Aren’t we all curious how we ended up going from the youth that we were to the responsible adults that we are today? Do we even think about how many lessons that we learned the hard way? Shouldn’t we be thinking of ways to teach our youth based on our experiences?

I know, it looks like all I have are questions. But questions are a great place to start! The BIG question is What do our Youth think would help them navigate conflict better?

We see youth in conflict managed poorly every day…we see bullying, fights, criminal charges, suspensions, withdrawals, mental health issues and sadly suicide. Before you ask, I don’t believe that opening a dialogue about problem solving or managing conflict is going to change all of this. I do however believe that there is an opportunity to change some of this.

  • Instead of being so critical of our youth, let’s be supportive of their strengths.
  • Instead of managing everything for them, let’s be there to guide them (or catch them) when they try to problem solve on their own.
  • Instead of dictating what they will do, when they will do it and how they will do it, let’s ask them for their input.
  • Instead of talking at them, let’s try listening to them.

I was asked to talk about this topic because I faciliate a workshop for Youth called RESOLVE – Conflict Preparedness for Youth. It creates dialogue around relationships, respect, power imbalances, and boundaries while helping teach communication skills as well as Conflict management.

I was asked why I thought my approach was effective. My answer is simple. I think any approach is effective! These are not skills that are being taught. These are skills that we hope young people gain through life experiences and by watching us adults model them. Is hope enough?

I think we need to empower the Youth and give them a voice. I’m sure we will be pleasantly surprised by what we hear.

Julie Gill, QMed, CDFA

Owner of Families First Mediation

Ashley Madison – A Time For Some Difficult Family Conversations
Aug 21st, 2015 by Families First Mediation

“I think it’s time to bring the personal family issues of the leaked Ashley Madison users back into the private world. No media, no courts, just families having these difficult conversations in a safe environment.”

Everyone feels they have a right to judge, not sure why but they do. The focus right now should be on minimizing risk to the families involved. Not just debating the legal and moral positions of the site and hackers.

Am I condoning cheating? No

Am I condoning the hackers blackmailing, bullying and sharing private information? No

Do I think people are seeing the families behind those leaked names? No

Ok, so we all know what Ashley Madison represents – feel free to think what you want about the people that join and pay for a membership.  I can tell you though as a Family Mediator that we have no idea what goes on in other people’s homes and/or in other people’s relationships. And really, why should we?

Perhaps these members have an open relationship. Perhaps they are separated and living together for convenience. Perhaps it was a joke or a joint effort by a couple to see what the site was all about. Perhaps it was cheating, pure and simple.

The hack does not end with user names being released, that is just the beginning. I’m concerned about the family fallout. What is going to happen with those couples and families now? Some very difficult conversations for sure. Those conversations may bring about some ugly truths, mistrust and some very real changes in their lives. These people can be mothers, fathers, children or grandparents and all of their extended family will now be involved in their personal lives, and let’s be clear, it is their personal lives.

I think it’s time to bring their personal family issues back into the private world. No media, no courts, just families having these conversations in a safe environment.

As a private and confidential process, maybe it’s time for the mediation process to shine. An opportunity for these families to have difficult conversations and for us as mediators to help them find a way to move forward.

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Owner & Principal Mediator

Families First Mediation

 

9 Tips To Bonding In A Blended Family
Jun 15th, 2015 by Families First Mediation

Think it’s tough to bond in a blended family? You’re right it can be, but there are ways to make it easier.

Due to the sheer number of divorced families it stands to reason that many couples entering into new relationships both already have children. When these families come together there are many changes that need to be considered and planned for.

Ashley and Jeff have been dating for 6 months and are talking about moving in together. Like many other couples now a days they are both divorced and have children from those marriages.

They are excited to have found each other and want to share their lives together. The children have met on quite a few occasions and seem to get along well. Ashley and Jeff really want this new relationship to work and talk at length about how best to manage it. They refer to the Brady Brunch regularly hoping that their new family will unite just like that one.

Much like their divorces, this is a transition forced on the children due to the parents needs. Ashley and Jeff know that they need to be focused on the best interests of their children during this time. They have decided to create a parenting plan to help them have conversations, make decisions and guide them through what they hope will be a successful transition into a blended family. Ashley and Jeff think that it may be a good idea to share some of their plan with their ex-partners to ensure they have a comfort level around the new people in their children’s lives. Ashley and Jeff feel that their children are old enough to have a voice and be part of the process. They are choosing to create the parenting plan through a series of family meetings. Some sections will be decided solely by Ashley and Jeff as the parents and adults, other sections will be created using feedback from the children.

Here are some tips that Ashley and Jeff are following to ensure that their transition is successful. They can work for you too!

  • Resolve your divorce first – How you manage your divorce can play a significant role in the success of future relationships. Bringing unresolved issues and emotions into a new relationship will certainly create challenges.
  • Create a parenting plan – Discuss and agree to such topics as discipline, rules, behaviour, parenting/step parenting roles. Rules should be consistent in the house and expectations as well as consequences should be clear.
  • Be respectful of the natural parents – There are roles for parents and step parents. Children will feel safe if the transition from home to home is smooth and if the parents and step parents are respectful of the other’s relationship with their children.
  • Continue the strong relationship with your own children – As you work hard to build a relationship with your step children it is often easy to take the relationship with your own children for granted. You will need to pay equal attention to your own children so that they don’t feel displaced during the transition.
  • Talk to the children – Don’t spring it on them; let them know of your intentions early on. Make sure they have a voice and that you are responsive to their concerns. Help your partner do the same.
  • Remember each child is unique – Children will adjust in their own way in their own time. Children need to develop relationships on their own…not be ‘forced’ into them.
  • Line up parenting schedules if and when you can – In order for the kids to bond they need to spend time together developing as a family. Special occasions and holidays will want to be spent together when they have bonded.
  • Quality Time – Ensure each parent spends time with their own children, with their step-children and also equally as important with each other to continue to develop and strengthen their relationship.
  • Get professional support if required – The help of counsellors or mediators may make your transition smoother.

Remember, your children want to see you happy and in a healthy relationship. You in turn want to show your children what a healthy relationship looks like. It will take some time and effort but it will pay off if you plan this transition and see it through.

Enjoy the chaos. It won’t last forever.

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Owner, Families First Mediation

 

FIGHTING FAIR
May 29th, 2013 by Families First Mediation

ALL parts of communication are skills that can be learned. Fighting is part of that. Effective communication during a fight is tough though.

Most people are familiar with what an unfair fight looks like…The Blame Game, Silent Treatment, Inappropriate Timing, Threats, Witholding of Affection or Sex. I’m sure that you can name some more.

You hear it all of the time – You need to attack the problem…not the person. How is withholding sex attacking the problem? It’s not. It is however a reaction to being hurt, the need to hurt back. Read the rest of this entry »

10 Tips To Avoid Money Conflict In Your Relationships
Dec 10th, 2012 by Families First Mediation

Relationships and Money are the perfect breeding ground for conflict.

Fear and change can often lead to conflict, in any situation. People have very strong emotions about money. It is the emotions and values people attach to money that cause the conflict.

 

Do you fight about money or ignore money problems?

Money concerns such as not having enough, not making enough, not saving enough, spending too much are common sources of conflict in relationships. Most people fight about money; that is no surprise.

 

 

During a lifetime there are many stages that money conflict can occur in relationships. Read the rest of this entry »

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