Youth co-mediator helps to resolve issues between a father & son
When a father, of African heritage and strong Christian beliefs, felt his 18 year-old son had been radicalised at university, he withheld his son’s passport and laptop and stopped his son from visiting the family home. This also stopped him from seeing his mother, younger brothers and sisters.
The son approached the police. They felt mediation would be a good option and referred the case to Calm.
Due to the age of the son, it was felt that an adult mediator working with a 17 year-old mediator, who had been trained by our Peer Mediation Service, would be a good combination. As the youth mediator was also of African heritage, it was hoped that this could help encourage the clients to use the service which reflected their community and to try mediation. It did.
Exploring with both parties
The mediators met with the clients individually and heard about the pain and harm they both felt. They explored what the clients previously respected about each other, what family meant to them, and how this situation was impacting on all family members, including the son’s university studies as he headed towards exams.
The mediators got permission from each client for them to share one positive thing with the other party. This seemed to help the clients to decide to meet together. To prepare them for that meeting, the mediators explored how each client saw the other so they could reflect on how they would feel coming into the room. They also asked them to imagine what the impact of the situation could be on the other party, and what they each could have done differently.
The mediation session between father and son took place at the mediation centre. When the individual parties arrived, the mediators met briefly with each one. They agreed what the mediators could share, at the beginning of the joint session, to summarise what had been discussed during the private sessions.
In the joint session, after the usual welcome message and ground rules, the mediators provided the agreed summaries. The youth mediator summarised directly to the father what he had given permission to share. Then the adult mediator summarised directly back to the son what he had given permission to share.
The mediators moved things on with some well placed questions. Note to mediators: Never be afraid to ask a question you may already know the answer to! The mediators asked the clients about how the situation was impacting on them, what they respected about each other, what they missed about each other, and what could have done differently. With these, the ice started to melt. There were tears and hugs as they realised they needed to express what was good and what they missed about each other, along with what they needed to do to reassure each other they were fine.
A carefully planned mediation paid off. In the end, the son got to go and see his mum, brothers and sisters and the father finally returned his son’s passport and laptop. They also agreed the son would introduce his friends from university to his family at the family home.