Direct Child Consultation…..
…..listening to the voice of the child
How it Works
- The Mediator agrees with both parents that a Direct Child Consultation could be helpful.
- The Mediator writes age-appropriate individual letters to the children explaining what will happen and inviting them to come along to a short session (brought along by an adult who will not be present during the discussion). Children can have the choice to be seen together or separately or decide not to come, it is up to them.
- The consultation is completely confidential between mediator and children (unless it becomes clear there are issues about their safety). Feedback to parents is flip-charted in the session and agreed by the children – anything they would like to say in confidence is not flip-charted or fed back.
- The Mediator subsequently feeds back agreed information to parents, and further discussion and mediation can follow concerning ways forward, in the light of the children’s wishes.
Our Thoughts on Child Consultations
All our mediators are acutely aware of the need to attend to ‘the children’s voice’ in their discussions with separated parents. Research shows not just that children need information and age appropriate understanding about the changes taking place in their lives: they actually benefit from having some direct input into the plans that are made about their futures.
This does not mean that children themselves should be making important decisions about their future lives; but it does mean that they should be consulted and heard. Some separated parents are able to talk together with their children, and allow their voices to be heard, but this can be difficult: parents are often in emotional turmoil themselves, fearful of loss in their own lives, hardly able to consider a joint approach with the other parent. Parents may think that “of course” they know what their children think. The consequence is that many children in divorce do not feel they have been understood or consulted.
Research consistently shows that, when parents use mediation to try to resolve their difficulties, there are definite positive outcomes for children when children are directly consulted within the mediation.
Three members of the FMCS team (Judith Pugsley, Neil Robinson and Ann Henshaw) have undertaken FMA (Family Mediators Association) specialist training which qualifies them to offer Direct Child Consultation. They each have substantial experience in Child Consultation cases.
Helpful Resources for Children – click and go