Jul 25, 2018

Lost in Translation

Friends mean the world to Jessica, a teenager referred to mediation after she was arrested for fighting at school. Jessica and her mother, Vivian, came to mediation several months after the fight, and it was apparent to the mediator that the mother and daughter had a barrier in communication: while Vivian spoke exclusively Spanish, Jessica was much more comfortable speaking in English, and, when pushed, communicated with her mother in a mix between the two languages. There seemed to be many things which were lost in translation between the two women and their bilingual mediator was able to help them find the tools to communicate.

From the start, Vivian was adamant that her daughter had fallen in with the wrong group of people and wanted to empower her daughter to make the best choices as to the company she keeps. Jessica recognized that her behavior had changed when she joined a specific group of friends, and that by hanging out with them she had been in some serious situations, such as the fight that resulted in her arrest. Jessica noted that she had made concerted efforts to extricate herself from that group, but as a result, was worried for the coming school year because she felt she had no friends.

Despite the fact that Jessica agreed completely with Vivian, recognized that their relationship had been improving, and that Jessica had taken her mother’s advice and was spending more time with a childhood friend, Vivian was very emotional and wanted to focus the conversation with talk of the fight and negative changes in Jessica’s behavior when she joined the group of friends – which she had since left. While Vivian needed to vent about what she had been experiencing, Jessica was feeling as though she was continuing to be berated and punished when she had taken steps to address what both parties agreed as the root of the problem: the group of friends.

Through a guided conversation with a skilled mediator, an agreement was discussed and drawn up which addressed both of their concerns. Jessica and Vivian agreed that Vivian would be more involved with Jessica’s friends, and would be happy to have them over or meet them at community events. Jessica trusts her judgment, and wanted Vivian’s support as she rebuilds her network of friends. They also agreed that they would consider changing Jessica’s school, in the event that her childhood friend did not change schools to join her. Finally, they agreed on a plan moving forward, in the event that Jessica were to find herself in a situation where things may be escalating to a fight; Jessica would consult her teachers and her mother.

Both parties indicated that they had had open lines of communication and a good relationship, but that trust had eroded in the past year. They both wanted to work to re-establish that trust, and the mediation gave them the opportunity to acknowledge everything that they had not discussed and create a plan for moving forward.

  

Jun 27, 2018

Keeping a Home

Diamond had been a tenant in Monique’s building for several years. Monique and Diamond had a good relationship, and Monique agreed that Diamond had been a good tenant until she recently fell behind on rent. Diamond did not pay a portion of rent for March, and no rent in April or May. Prior to mediation, Diamond finished paying March and April’s rent, but still owed for May.

Monique and Diamond had a previously existing agreement that allowed Diamond to pay her rent in installments that included a small late fee. Installments were $427.50 every two weeks starting at the beginning of each month, for a total of $855/month.

In mediation, the parties gave initial statements to explain why they were in court. The mediator asked both parties about their relationship. Monique said she had always been happy to work with Diamond because she was one of her good tenants. Monique explained that she has not had any noise complaints or other issues with Diamond like she frequently has with other tenants. Diamond was proud of her history of being a good tenant and her relationship with Monique.

Mediation gave the parties a chance to discuss how to move forward. Monique said she needed the rent for May and for Diamond to be on time moving forward. Diamond explained that she recently lost her job and was having financial difficulties; she tried to communicate with Monique through texts, but felt that communication had failed. Diamond recently started a new job, and was eager to discuss a way to catch up on her rent. Both women were grateful to have a chance to discuss their situation in person, with help from the mediator.

The mediator helped the parties discuss their options. Diamond proposed a schedule that would allow her to increase her installment amount to make up the rent she owed for May, and that would be realistic moving forward. Monique felt that Diamond had violated her trust, and requested proof that Diamond was working again. Diamond agreed to work with her employer to provide Monique an employment verification. Both parties assisted with the drafting of the agreement, confirming the details of the payment arrangements. Diamond expressed relief at being able to stay in an apartment where she felt safe and comfortable, and that was a nice home for her children. Monique was relieved to be able to retain a good tenant in her building.

Apr 25, 2018

Strengthening Family Through Communication

Julia and her son, Daniel, came to CCR because they were having trouble communicating, and Daniel was having trouble controlling his temper when they argued. Julia had called the police twice because Daniel was acting aggressively – slamming doors and turning over chairs - and she was worried someone would get hurt. The police warned that the next time this happened, Daniel would have to go in front of a judge.

Julia and Daniel had always enjoyed an easy-going relationship. Julia was a ‘fun, goofy mom’ who got along great with Daniel and his two siblings. Then, at the beginning of freshman year, Daniel began to spend more time on the weekends with his friends, ignoring the curfew his mother set for him and intentionally staying out so late he had to spend the night at his friend’s house.

Julia was extremely upset that her son was ignoring the rules, but more than that, she was worried. Their neighborhood was not that safe, and gangs regularly tried to recruit teenagers, including Daniel. In order to get to his friend’s house, Daniel had to take a 15 minute bus ride, and the bus stops running at a certain time. Julia worried so much that she missed work multiple times because she stayed up late waiting for Daniel to return home.

Daniel and Julia were having a hard time pinpointing the cause, or even the start, of Daniel ignoring rules, being aggressive and lying to his mother. Through a guided conversation, Julia and Daniel divulged that the family had to move at the beginning of the school year – Daniel didn’t see his friends at school anymore, and couldn’t just hang out with them in the evening like he did when they lived all on the same street. Additionally, the family car had broken down a few months ago, and money was tight, so they did not have cable. Daniel was bored at the house – his friends had gaming systems and cable TV. And, because they no longer had a car, the family spent a lot less time doing fun activities together. All of these factors happened at the same time, taking their toll on the family and Daniel.

In a private conversation with the mediator, Julia began to tear up, saying, “I don’t know how to show him I love him. I want him to know I love and respect him, and I don’t think he does.” The mediator gave her an assignment - write down all the things she wanted to say to him. Daniel also opened up during a private conversation with the mediator, saying that he thought what he was going through was a phase, that he loves his mother and wasn’t trying to disrespect her.

When they came together again, Julia read what she had written for Daniel, and Daniel expressed what he was feeling to his mother. With the mediator’s help, they developed a communication plan, which included rules and consequences for breaking those rules, as well as specific items for both to work on. They both left feeling as though mediation helped them develop a solid plan to improve their communication and relationship.

 
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