Inter-generational conflict within families and within residential communities can have a significant adverse impact on the lives of those affected, and can sometimes create a significant cost in terms of interventions by statutory authorities.
Child-parent conflict is universally recognised as ‘normal’ and is managed effectively by many families. However, some child-parent conflicts (especially teenager-parent conflicts) can reach serious proportions that may disrupt the lives of an entire family.
Manifestations may include:
- Truanting and poor educational performance
- Getting into trouble with the police
- Stealing from the home
- Physical altercations etc. leading to Interventions by social services
- Leaving home and homelessness
In such situations, trained and experienced community mediators are able to facilitate conversations between those affected – conversations that would otherwise not occur. The aim is to reach an agreement that clear up misunderstandings, set out common objectives and establishes a code of practice for future behaviour on both sides.
In common with other mediated settlements, it is good practice for this to be set out in writing. Where appropriate, the mediation process can include members of the extended family, and/or representatives of a school, the police or social services.
Inter-generational conflict within families is not limited to parent-teenager situations. Sibling rivalries may be a significant feature and this can be exacerbated where there are children who do not share the same biological parents. Conflict can also arise within families in connection with:
- Managing the care of one or more elderly parents or relatives who needs special support
- Disagreements over money issues, including inheritances.
Inter-generational issues also arise in residential communities where there are shared communal spaces e.g. blocks of flats or residential estates. These often surface through complaints about the behaviour of groups of young people who are seen as threatening or intimidating or are alleged to commit acts of petty crime, vandalism or anti-social behaviour. In these situations, community mediators can achieve reconciliation and practical solutions through facilitated dialogue between representatives of resident groups and the young people affected.
In all of these types of inter-generational conflict, mediation can lead to practical and effective solutions that dramatically improve people’s lives and avoid the financial and human cost of statutory interventions.