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.