What can you expect in this writing?
In mediation, where individuals seek resolution for their conflicts, one powerful phrase emerged in one of the recent session: “I know it, you know it, and that will be the end of it.” This writing explores the profound implication of this phrase in the context of mediation’s core principles—’Confidentiality’ and ‘Privacy.’ It also presents a real-life family scenario where mediation became a crucial bridge between two individuals navigating the complexities of co-parenting for their 7-month-old baby. The narrative unveils their journey, trials, and the pivotal role of a mediator in preserving the sanctity of their family matters.
Care to join me on a compelling exploration of the mediation process and the resilience of family dynamics? I look forward to hearing your thoughts upon reading this 🙂
It so happened, that…
In a recent scenario where two individuals came together to explore mediation as a solution for their situation, one uttered a remarkable sentence: “I know it, you know it, and that will be the end of it.”
Later, during my self-reflection on this scenario, this sentence stood out as a focal point among all the information shared.
The depth of this statement struck me. It reminded me of the fundamental principles we often associate with mediation: ‘Confidentiality’ and ‘Privacy,’ even though the context in which this sentence was delivered had little direct connection to these defined terms.
Confidentiality in mediation signifies that everything discussed and done in the process remains confidential and will not be disclosed unless requested. Confidentiality encompasses two aspects: within mediation and outside mediation. Within mediation, it involves maintaining confidentiality between the participants. For instance, if one party wishes to share something privately with the mediator, just for the purpose of unburdening themselves, and requests that the information not be shared with the other parties, the mediator is bound to treat this information as private and maintain confidentiality. In essence, confidentiality means keeping matters private, even when it entails keeping them private from other participants in the mediation.
On the other hand, privacy pertains to the fact that the mediation process is conducted in a private setting. This distinction becomes particularly apparent when we compare mediation to litigation. If you need tangible proof, simply visit a nearby courtroom in your city.
Would you believe that this approach (of needing a tangible proof) was actually employed in a real family situation?
A couple, while not legally married, lived together and had to make decisions about their child’s future when their relationship came to an end. At the time they were referred to mediation, sitting face-to-face was emotionally challenging for them due to the painful memories it evoked. Though they had once shared visions of a happy family of three and discussed mutual ideas for raising their child, they now found themselves on divergent paths. While they were content with their individual choices and confident about living independently while co-parenting, their face-to-face discussions had escalated into disputes about custody, finances, and religious upbringing for their 7-month-old baby. The father, a traveler who embraced a free-spirited, somewhat hippie lifestyle, earned a living by imparting spiritual teachings to his audience. When a mutual friend referred the father to me to explore mediation, we sought to invite the mother to the mediation process.
The mother was initially upset about an outsider (me, the potential mediator and the friend of the father) entering their family matters, even though she herself had contemplated approaching the family court. In my personal humanic opinion, I think she seemed to forget that turning to the family court would inherently make their family issues public, hence ruling out the opportunity to be upset about an outsider (mediator) now knowing of their family situation.
A few weeks passed…
Both the father and mother had decided to take a step back and let things unfold naturally. Eventually, the mother agreed to a trial mediation session to discuss the mediation process.
The trial session was scheduled…
During the trial mediation session, I primarily explained the process: whether we would meet online or in person, the topics we would address, the costs involved, the frequency of sessions, and other logistical details. The mother of the baby was convinced about the process but also anxious about “giving in,” as she confided privately in me.
Thus, agreeing to mediation, initiated by the father of the baby, proved challenging for her. That was the end of the session.
More weeks passed…
Another trial session was asked for and scheduled…
In this session, the father, running out of patience, burst out during the first few minutes,
“Go to the family court if you want!!!!! See for yourself how people have to air their dirty laundry in public, in front of everyone… understand the embarrassment… then maybe you will realize that we are perfectly capable of handling this… Why don’t you understand that – we’re only resorting to a private mediator because we can’t communicate directly. This mediator will ensure that any legal processes are properly managed. And above all, our family matters will remain private… YOU KNOW IT! I KNOW IT! AND THAT WILL BE THE END OF IT! Why on earth are you not agreeing to talk in the presence of a mediator? We have tried talking by ourselves and failed. We are now seeking help, can’t you cooperate? What will it take for you to cooperate for a mediation session? Next, for 4 to 5 hours, we discuss our points, and then that’s it! We will be done with this!”
Once the father had finished, he sat there, and it was clear, we could see a yearning expression, desperately wanting the mother of the baby to comprehend his vision for their family.
… Following his passionate outburst, we all sat in silence, with the mother of the baby too stunned to respond. A profound silence enveloped the room.
I can add, that this silence that followed was reminiscent of the stillness one might experience after an incredibly soothing meditation session. It was so profound that words failed to fill the void.
I silently thought, this family had never believed in registering their marriage; they had chosen to live a paperless, (unstructured) life. Now they found themselves facing a difficult juncture.
As a mediator, I realized that this mediation, like many others, wouldn’t be officially recorded. I would have only the transaction records of their mediation fees as evidence. Still, they were not adamant about signing a mediation agreement.
While I usually prefer to commence discussions after the mediation agreement is signed, this case was an exception. Their inclination towards a more organic approach without the burden of paperwork didn’t deter me. I knew that no document could hinder me from delivering my service, and there was no imminent threat. I had to let this unfold naturally, for the benefit of the father, mother, and the child.
Over the last two years, I’ve encountered several inquiries from couples whose marriages were not registered, yet they had children.
For the most part, I advocate beginning with a signed agreement to mediate, but this situation felt different. Maybe, my life partly lived in a hippie culture was influencing how not to let paperwork impede progress in life.
It also was a gentle reminder that “Laws are for us, not the other way around. We needn’t make decisions solely based on legal regulations; we make choices first and then apply the law to ensure the legal process is properly managed, if necessary.”
Coming back to the father and the mother, at this point by the end of the second trial mediation session, the mother and father have decided to take a 4-5 month break, allowing them time to relax and recuperate. They plan to return later with their next steps.
The mother, in the meantime, took a walk to the city’s family court to explore her options, but she realized that discussing matters privately through mediation should be her first step. If necessary, she will engage her own lawyer for legal assistance. However, she was now committed to the idea of exhausting the mediation process to address her co-parenting concerns before turning to the family court.
This experience has left me with a valuable gift, encapsulated in the words, “YOU KNOW IT! I KNOW IT! AND THAT WILL BE THE END OF IT…” These words embody the essence of the mediation process and its significance in specific scenarios.
Concluding Takeaway, if you may please?
In the world of mediation, where conflicts find their voice in understanding, the words “I know it, you know it, and that will be the end of it” resonate like a shared secret. Through this family’s voyage, we’ve glimpsed the alchemy of mediation, where conversations mend what’s broken, and privacy is a cherished treasure. As we bid adieu to this story, may it linger as a testament to mediation’s magic—reuniting hearts and preserving the fragile threads of family bonds.
Thank you for reading 🙂