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Mediation, Elder Abuse and Saving the Family: Mediation & Conflict Strategies to Avoid Elder Abuse

Steve MehtaAs Americans are getting older, more and more issues arise relating to elder abuse in financial and health care settings.  Studies show that the majority of abuse occurs within the family.  What can be done to resolve these issues?  Listen to a respected elder abuse mediator and author, Steve Mehta, and learn how to address these difficult issues.


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Who’s in Charge-Managing Difficult Decisions Around A Parent’s Care


Byron Cordes When a family member needs help everyone has an idea of what is “best.” Many times, adult children are called upon in a crisis to help their parents make some decisions about their care. The family and the senior have to decide the senior may need. The differing options of care (how much, what type, and how it will be funded) can cause conflict within the family. Geriatric Care Managers are often called upon to help negotiate these very difficult decisions.


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Transforming Difficult Decision Making in Elder Care Planning

LouisePhippsSenftPicFamilies today are assuming responsibility for the informal care of over 75 percent of elderly family members and are often faced with difficult decisions from a bewildering array of choices:? e.g. estate planning, financial issues, and guardianship.? In the best of circumstances, this can be a stressful process and sometimes leads to disagreements, confusion, and conflict at a time when the best intentions of the family are to work together for the needs of a loved and respected aging family member. With the help of a trained professional mediator, family members share information and perspectives, explore and evaluate options, and develop workable solutions through a process that promotes open and positive communication.? The mediator is a neutral, who does not offer advice and believes that each family is unique and knows best what solutions will work for their family as a whole.? For families in conflict or simply wanting help through a transition elder care mediation offers a process which can reduce stress and prevent a crisis.


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Ugh, You make me Sick! The Key to Managing Family Conflict

Blog 8 picFamily conflict is a disagreement between one or more persons within a family unit. This type of conflict can occur between siblings, parents, parents/children, etc.  A little conflict between loved ones is not totally bad.  Conflict can bring along understanding and open the door for much needed conversations.  It is only when conflict goes unresolved that it becomes damaging to oneself and those around them.

Family conflicts can result from something small as a parent asking a child to perform their chores to something larger like divorce.  Other family conflicts may consist of jealously between siblings, death of a family member, loss of a job, disagreements over money, etc.  Conflict within the family may become difficult and raise many emotions and tensions.   Not all conflict is handled the same way. Every person handles and deals with conflict in a very different way. For example, a spouse that lost a job may take the frustration out on a family member instead of using the energy to find another job opportunity.  Whereas another, might not bring the conflict into the family but instead experience inner conflict.  For most of us, family is our number one priority. The question becomes how does one deal with family conflict to ensure it is handled properly and does not end up unresolved or escalating with damaging results?

There are several ways to mitigate family conflict.  The following are five of ten tips Pattie Porter discusses during her segment on the Texas Conflict Blog Talk Radio entitled Top 10 List…Strategies for Constructive Conflict Engagement:

1- Be prepared – reflect on what you might do that triggers the other person

2- Check your attitude- have an open mind

3- Start on the right foot- approach the family member with an invitation to talk. This allows the person to prepare for the conversation

4- Set Boundaries-set ground rules before having the conversation

5- Listen Deeply – focus fully on what person is saying. Do not add your own commentary therefore dismissing their experiences

It is my hope that these tips along with others can help you with your family conflict.

By Yvette Watson Jenkins

Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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Breaking Bad: The Decision to Change Holiday Traditions

holiday-traditionsBreaking away from family traditions during the holiday season can be difficult.  Regardless of the reason or the explanation given to your family, friends or spouse, it rarely goes well. Why is that? The fact is that traditions are traditions for a reason. Traditions hold a symbolic or significant meaning to your family, friends and yourself. Your absence from a tradition is more than just, “Hey, sorry we won’t be there this Christmas ”. Your absence from a tradition means the loss of chances to hear family stories or to connect with distant family members who you probably will not see until next year. Tradition is a sensitive topic especially when it involves holidays or large family gatherings, and it can create unpleasant feelings and conflict.

There could be many reasons why you decide to break from a family tradition. Here are a few that I came up with…

  • The growth of personal relationships (marriage). You and your new spouse want to start a tradition within your own home to celebrate the holidays. This can make your family or your spouse’s family upset.
  • The ignorance to diversity and difference within your family. For example, the fear to introduce a new spouse, college friend or co-worker from a different religious, racial, or economic background. These situations can create tension for all parties involved. See clip Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
  • The strained relationship with in-laws. The constant offenses or verbal attacks from each other during traditional holiday meals can discourage your attendance at those dinners.
  • Personal lifestyle choices. For example, you are now the raw vegan or vegetarian who no longer indulges in meat and/or dairy products. Yet your family still makes those traditional holiday favorites ham, deviled eggs and mashed potatoes, which you cannot eat.
  • Simple boredom. I will not sugar coat. I know family traditions can become stale and boring; so, you stay home or seek another place to go instead of attending the traditional holiday festivities your father or mother have hosted over the years.

Whatever the reasons are, do not brush them off. Don’t wonder if you are the bad guy because you want to break with tradition. Remember your reasons are just as important as the tradition itself! If you want to start your own family tradition say that, but say it respectfully, explain why and say it early. Don’t wait until the day of Christmas dinner to decide you want to break tradition. If the religion or the race of your significant other worries you, speak to your family ahead of time, don’t bring your significant other into the chaos. If in-laws are purposeful grouches, tell your spouse and speak to the in-laws privately before the family affair. If you are the vegan or vegetarian at the traditional meat-loving family dinner, bring a dish for the family to try. If a particular family tradition is boring, talk with mom or dad to change it up a bit. Just remember to be respectful, show that you still care and speak up early.

To learn more about the break from family holiday traditions visit Breaking With Tradition: How to Navigate the Delicate Subject of Changing Family Holiday Rituals or listen to our recent podcast, When Cultural Expectations Collide During the Holidays: Strategies for Multicultural Families.

By Tierra Henry, Graduate Student
University of Baltimore Dispute Resolution Program

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Don’t Let Greed Breed Conflict And Interfere With Your Holiday Cheer

Overwhelmed by gift exchanges.

Overwhelmed by gift exchanges.

Holidays, Holidays, as Andy Williams said “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” and I’m sure it is for many. Unfortunately, it can be stressful with unrealistically high expectations and unforeseen conflicts ending with nasty arguments, disappointed family members and friends. Gift-giving exchanges among our growing extended family and friends causes some of the most anxiety and frustration. Why? Unmet expectations, values we place on others or ourselves about gift giving, and the need for love and affection that often gets tied to the gift and gift giver.

Have you ever been unsatisfied with your gift? Thought your husband, wife, best friend, sister or someone close to you didn’t spend enough on you?  Were you expecting something different? The hair dryer was not on your “expected” gift list. Could you not afford to give everyone a gift due to the growing size of your family? These unmet expectations create conflict. Hurtful comments are made. You feel the tension, the awkward silence and the anxiety.

The truth is we have all been there in that same position. You are not alone. Every year you tell yourself “I’m going to plan better next time” or “I will stick with a budget” but it never works out. Mentally you are drained and you haven’t prepared yourself for the chaos that will come when your family, best friends or unexpected guests arrive at your home for holiday festivities and gift exchanges.

Imagine, it’s Christmas day at your home and your family is exchanging gifts. Your aunt opens her gift and her facial expression goes from a smile to a face of concern. You ask her if she likes her gift and her reply is “yes”. Later that day you find out she is upset because the gift you got her is entirely too expensive.  You spent way more on her than what she spent on you. Yes, people get upset if they receive a holiday gift that they believe is too “pricey”. In addition to your upset aunt, you also find out that your cousin is saddened because you didn’t get him a gift. Unfortunately, you did not have enough money to buy him a gift.   You believe in spending within your means or budget. Right? That’s exactly right! Your cousin goes off on a tantrum and believes that favoritism within the family is the reason he did not receive a gift, not the fact that you did not have enough money. The conflict begins.

Here are some tips for how you can keep money and gifts from creating family conflict.

  • Create a budget and STICK TO IT! Don’t spend what you can’t afford.
  • Try creative ideas like “Secret Santa”. Decide on minimum and maximum costs. Explain the rules CLEARLY!
  • Be honest. It does not hurt to explain to family and friends why you decided to change the gift giving process.
  • Use Gift Cards.  Relatives and friends can buy whatever they want! Even giving the same gift can eliminate conflict then no one complains about favoritism.
  • Communicate effectively…be open and transparent about your expectations and hopes for the holiday season.
  • Show appreciation for the thought and action behind the gift.

To learn more on preventing conflict around gift giving this season, visit How To Avoid Money Arguments During the Holiday Season and Communication Currents.

Listen to our podcast archives to help you prepare for the holidays.

       How To Manage Financial Conflicts Within Your Family During The Holidays

By Tierra Henry, Graduate Student, University of Baltimore

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Family Holiday Conflict – Getting Ready for the Holidays

Our conversation will focus on what to do to prepare for those family gatherings so that you don’t lose your cool.

  • Have you ever felt you have to perform like Martha Stewart and be the perfect hostess?
  • Or, maybe you wanted to start a new tradition but it is met with resistance because “we’ve always done it this way!”
  • Do you get tired of the constant battle of who to visit, so instead you rush around to 3 or 4 family households in a day? Exhausting!
  • We all certainly have those relatives we see during the holidays that make us want to cringe. They’ll never change!    [display_podcast]

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Learning to Cope with your Crazy Family

Posted on Apr 29 2012 under Blog Posts | Tags: , , , ,

Do you love your family, but you just can’t deal with them on a regular basis? Do you wish that family gatherings would be filled with fun and laughter, instead of arguments? Summer will soon be approaching, which means barbeques, family reunions, and plain old get- togethers with our families. Many of us love our family, but don’t like spending time with them due to the drama it creates. Loving your family at a distance is hard to do especially when you want more out of the relationship.

Coming from a huge family myself, I can understand the issues and or conflict that are surrounded by families coming together. It’s always the old aunt or grandmother that makes a comment out loud that’s supposed to be the family secret. Or that one nosy cousin that creates drama by asking everyone’s business. Trust me! I understand your pain. I go through it too, but there are ways to control the situation without letting it escalate to conflict. There are techniques you can learn to help you approach family conflict calmly, and effectively. Leaning new ways to approach family conflict during gatherings will help create a new and loving relationship with your family, and make you appreciate and enjoy your time with them.

If you would like to know more listen to Overcoming Conflict at Family Gatherings to find out further information with Janet Bonnin of Fine Tuned Families. In this podcast she teaches you how to cope with family conflict at gatherings.

By Andrea Williams

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Family Series: Stop Litigation in Its Tracks

 With the high cost of litigation, companies and individuals are looking for ways to avoid litigation. Instead of spending huge amounts on preparation for trials that do not happen 98% of the time, parties can eliminate litigation’s high costs, delays, stress, and damage to business relationships and reputations by simply agreeing to another form of dispute resolution. In this show of the Family Conflict Series: Stop Litigation in its Tracks we will focus on how collaborative lawyers can help you work through your divorce without the long, difficult journey that can end in a litigious court battle.


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Family Series: Is Divorce Mediation for You?

 Are you going through a divorce, separation, or post-divorce conflict? Have you considered mediation? How can you tell if mediation is right for you? This show will explore what mediation is, who should consider mediation, and typical outcomes of mediation as opposed to litigated divorce and separation. The show will highlight benefits for children as well as for parents and take a special look at how mediation can help at holiday times.

Join us as we discuss with Zena Zumeta a lawyer and a former president of the Academy of Family Mediators. Internationally known as both a mediator and trainer of mediators, Zena is president of the Mediation Training & Consultation Institute, Zena Zumeta Mediation Services, and The Collaborative Workplace in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


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