“I really needed a place to try and sort out the issues for my kids”
“Before I knew about mediation I was off to see a lawyer but quickly found that I would never be able to afford the process. I really needed a place to try and sort out the issues for my kids that desperately needed attention. As soon as I was in touch with Ellen she made it very easy for me.
At our (pre-mediation) meeting I expected that I’d be able to talk about everything that I was concerned about and that Ellen would help me to make the changes to the children’s routine that I wanted. But it turned out that Ellen first wanted an overview of our situation and that she’d do the same when she met with the kid’s dad. No counselling – just questions and very perceptive questions. I walked away feeling like, “What was that all about?” She suggested I go to the Parenting Through Separation programme and that was it!
Going to Parenting Through Separation really softened me and got me thinking, “What if me and my kid’s dad had a good relationship? Would that make my kids feel better? And help them to feel whole rather than torn in half?” I remembered my first meeting with Ellen and realised the questions she asked were all about my kids, and that this process wasn’t about me getting what I wanted. Rather it was about figuring out what was best for the kids.
My meeting with Ellen and then the parenting programme set the tone and I knew I’d have to try really hard to co-operate at the joint mediation meeting with the other set of parents. When we got started, Ellen set a few no option ground rules and we set the rest. Ellen was very perceptive. She facilitated the meeting in a way that really challenged us to look (beyond ourselves) at what is best for the children. We had the opportunity to deal with the most important issues. At some point during the meeting I realised that actually I needed to change some things and that the problems weren’t all caused by my kid’s dad. I really appreciated having a safe place to bring up the big things without my ex walking away, swearing or us hating each other.
We had a second meeting a month later, but we’d both made such big changes in our attitudes that we didn’t really need it. We had the meeting just to make sure.
The most important thing I learned is that my children are half of me and half of their dad. And when I used to badmouth their dad it really hurt the kids. I realised that the way we, as parents, were treating each other was the biggest problem.
I am so thankful for the process that Ellen facilitated. My kid’s dad and I talk heaps now. We negotiate. There is no more power play. There is no more me thinking “I know best what is right for my kids”. And our kids have really started to smile within. Honestly, it’s a miracle! Thank you, Ellen.”