Updated: Sep 30, 2020
*Inspired by real conversations & correspondence - not an actual letter to a client xx
How are you doing today? I know your mediation is only a few days away, and I'm glad our conversations have been helping you to feel more calm and focused, and ready to make a great Plan for your family!
You were wondering about how you can give your values a voice in mediation, and how you can get them really clear before mediation, so that you can communicate them well, and then also follow through on the things that are important to you. I'm so happy to write to you about this, because I know that you have such beautiful values, and incredible strength about how you live them out in your life and your co-parenting.
It's such a big, weighty thought isn't it ... I feel like it is, because everything really does kind of rest on your values: how you walk into the mediation room in the first place, and then how you make the actual decisions that will become your Parenting Plan.
The first part is, your values will inform how you mediate ... and I hope you will feel a sense of confidence and peace going in - because you have answered the important questions like:
Who do I want to be in my own eyes? (what kind of person?)
How do I want to be perceived by others?
How do I want to feel about the session when I walk out of there?
What am I thinking about my co-parent, and about the mediation?
Who/What do I want to be, in this moment, for my children?
I think when you're clear about these things, you will see your values rise to the surface. I think your list probably looks something like this (add or delete your own as appropriate!): Respect, kindness, strength for your children, grace, optimism, openness, stability, persistence, playfulness, and so on.
At the same time, try to take notice of other influences that might creep into your attitudes and decision-making, that may or may not line up with your real values, such as:
How you are feeling at the moment.
A past experience (positive or negative).
What a friend recommended.
Something you saw on TV.
What you usually do in this situation (habits).
What you think others expect of you.
Which of these voices do you notice yourself consulting with the most?
Which of these is the loudest voice, in spite of your attempts to maybe ignore or silence it?
Once you have had a think about what values are at the top of your list, you could try writing down and answering these questions ... I hope it will give you an idea of how your values, needs and priorities might then be expressed in your words and actions during the session:
How am I going to respond to difficult questions?
What are the most helpful things for me to focus on as I give my opinions?
What are the words that will convey how important these things are to me?
What are the words that will distract from these values?
I've also been thinking about how you might tap into your best hopes for yourself and your little ones, when you're in the middle of your mediation, and you're making your decisions ... because if you can stay focused on that preferred future, then your new co-parenting life will start to be shaped by a Parenting Plan that is entwined with and scaffolded by your values - who and what you most want to be in this life, and the things that are most important to you.
Language that is positive and mutual can help to convey these hopes and values in a way that both parents can receive and work with:
The children love you and want to see you as much as possible, and I only want to facilitate, support and nurture that. I really hope that we can work out something consistent for them here today, because that's important for them to feel secure at this age.
We have both made mistakes getting to this point, but I believe that we can move forward from here.
I am open to any ideas that make the children's needs central, and that give all of us a sense of predictability about our lives.
This is not the most convenient time for me, but since this is the only option of days and times for the moment, I will work around my other commitments on that day so that Timmy can get to swimming - because it's great fun, and he loves it! It would be great if you could be ready to feed him dinner on that day, so that I can bring him straight to you after his class.
So, I guess I'm hoping that this little homework exercise has given you a starting point for (a) discovering what your values are, (b) taking note of other influences that might contradict those values, (c) exploring how your values might influence the way that you interact in mediation, and (d) some words that you can use to express your values, even in the context of decision-making.
Let me know if this brings up anything you want to chat about further. I'll be thinking of you this week xx
I hope that helps, precious one!
PS. I found this interesting list of core values, if you're looking for inspiration!
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