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.

Mar 28, 2018

Repairs and Reconciliation

Carlos, the landlord, liked his tenants, Vernon and his family. Unfortunately, they’d lately had trouble paying the rent and had fallen several months behind. Carlos couldn’t afford to keep the house without their rent. Carlos knew he had to make some repairs before he could put the house on the market, and he had to get started soon. Carlos said he’d tried to be patient, but he just couldn’t afford to wait any longer. He filed for eviction – there was nothing more to discuss.

On the day of the court hearing, the judge asked Carlos and Vernon if they’d like to try mediation. They were willing.

The mediator asked each of them about their situation and what they needed. Vernon was able to express that he respected Carlos and that he was sorry he’d been unable to pay the rent these last few months. His work hours had been cut and his family had other expenses, and he just didn’t have the money. He’d told Carlos he was trying to find a cheaper place. He also realized that having an eviction on his record would make it even more difficult to find a new home.

The last thing Carlos wanted was to make it hard for his tenants to move out. He also realized that he was unlikely to see any money from the back rent – he’d settle for possession right away. Vernon had nowhere to go right away – he wanted a couple of months. Carlos couldn’t wait that long, although he appreciated how well Vernon and his family had always kept the place, and how Vernon had fixed little things that needed fixing, and done a good job.

The mediator guided the conversation toward the repairs: Vernon told Carlos that he could do all the repairs that Carlos had listed. From that point, Carlos and Vernon agreed on a list of repairs, and Vernon estimated how long it would take him.

The mediator helped them detail their agreement in writing. Vernon would move out in two months. During that time, he would complete the agreed repairs, with Carlos supplying all materials. Carlos would waive the back rent, which he thought was uncollectible anyway, and no rent would be due for the next two months. The eviction case would be dismissed, but Carlos could reinstate it if the agreement was not fulfilled.

Vernon got the two months he felt he needed, avoided an eviction order and a judgment against him, and maintained his self-respect in the eyes of his family. Carlos would be able to get started right away preparing the house for sale.

The judge approved the agreement, and both parties left the courtroom pleased with the result.

Jan 26, 2018

Resolution not Rumors

Jason and Markus are two teenagers who only knew each other because they sometimes hung out at the same park. One afternoon Jason started pushing Markus around because he had heard rumors that Markus was trying to date his girlfriend, Veronica. The pushing turned into something more aggressive. Jason became angrier as he chased Markus around the park, landing blows and kicking Markus when he was on the ground.

There were other teenagers in the park and the incident was recorded on a phone and posted on social media. Eventually, the police arrived. Jason was arrested for battery and sent to mediation by the court.

Jason and Markus, along with Jason’s mom, Denise, and Markus’ dad, Henry, met with the CCR mediator. At first, it seemed that Henry had more to say than Markus. Although he was very upset that Markus had been beaten up, Henry was even more upset that the altercation was posted online. Henry believed that the video was embarrassing for his son and would have a negative impact on his reputation. It was Henry’s priority to make sure the video was taken down.

During the conversation Jason and Denise shared that Jason had been dealing with anger management issues. He had been building resources for how to better manage similar situations, but had been strongly impacted by the rumors about Markus and Veronica. Markus used the time to explain that he and Veronica were very good friends and that he wasn’t interested in dating her.

The mediator asked them both questions about the incident and came to learn that both Markus and Jason had been at the park for the same reason – they were looking to make friends. Since the incident, neither of them had gone back to the park and both expressed feelings of isolation and loneliness. They agreed that they would both like to use the park again without concerns about a future confrontation.

With the mediator’s assistance, the young men were able to discuss their dynamic and came to an agreement that everything was settled between them. Henry still wanted to have the video removed from the internet and Markus agreed to do so. During the mediation, Markus was able to use his mother’s phone to delete the video from his social media pages.

Everyone left the mediation satisfied that the matter had been resolved. 

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