Thanksgiving and Mediation/Martin Rosenfeld,JD

Posted on November 23, 2016

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We are all familiar with the Thanksgiving scene as painted by Norman Rockwell. Food, family, and togetherness. However, how many families will never experience such a scene due to intra-family spats and vendettas that invoke division but not togetherness. A few years ago, a columnist suggested that Thanksgiving might be a good fight for family mediation to clear up old issues. The thought is meant to be positive, but you will only have 24 more hours to make that appointment with the mediator. Some simpler suggestions for family harmony might include the following:

  1. Read a good book on mediation such as “Getting to Yes” and incorporate basic dispute resolution techniques for your family situation.
  2. Consider the role of forgiveness in dealing with old hurts.
  3. Ask the question “why” as for example: “Why were you upset when I did Y?” It is a great conversation starter.
  4. Try to discuss how future family meetings can be more harmonious, or can even take place.
  5.  Start the ball rolling. Why not say: “I want there to be more family harmony. What can we do to achieve this?”
  6. Bury the hatchet. Invite the uncle you haven’t spoken to in 20 years and see what happens.
  7.  Change the venue or time of the family gathering and see what happens.
  8. Write a note (or email) to a relative you rarely talk to and re-ignite the relationship.
  9. Most importantly, do something. Don’t say too much time has passed and what can we do. In this situation, doing something will virtually always trump doing nothing.
  10. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Life is short. Enjoy your family. Best Regards from your family mediator.
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