Mediation Can Help Bring Peace in Families

by Mary Kay Turner

It has been said that the ones we love the most have the power to hurt us the most. Allan Roberts even wrote song words in 1944 called “You Always Hurt the One You Love,” which has been recorded by the Mills Brothers, Connie Francis, Ringo Starr, and many others.

Are there issues in your family that have caused family members to become alienated from each other? Does a daughter refuse to speak with her father? Or are a brother and sister unable to get along? What could be so important that it could cause family members to forget their love for each other? Sometimes disputing family members have even forgotten the issue that caused the problem.


Mediation can help people repair strained relationships within a family. Perhaps it is because they know each other so well and trust each other so much that people are more vulnerable in family relationships. The feeling of broken trust can be a very important factor in strained relationships. The experience of being misunderstood and hurt by a loved and respected relative can be accompanied by extremely strong feelings. Those feelings can stay inside a person sometimes even long after the events are forgotten.


Because we are individuals, we all have different needs and interests, even within a family. This means we don’t always see things the same way or want the same things. So conflict is simply a fact of life in dealing with people, even within families. Sometimes one person has expectations that another person cannot meet. A family member may care enough to tell you the truth even though it hurts, and that hurt may damage the relationship. When two people aren’t speaking to each other, there most likely are very strong feelings involved, making life difficult for them and people who love them.

A third person, such as a mediator, can help create a neutral, respectful, accepting environment where each person in the conflict can feel comfortable telling the story and honestly expressing feelings and hurts. Mediators can help both people to look at their feelings and talk about how they have been hurt. Hopefully each person will come to understand how the other person has been hurt and accept any responsibility for that hurt. Then they can agree that the relationship is important and should be a priority.

As part of the mediation process, together they brainstorm ideas that could possibly be helpful in restoring the relationship. These ideas can include simple actions, apologies, even creative ideas that might be expensive. Then they evaluate the ideas and limit them first of all to those that involve changes in only their behavior, as they cannot make promises about what anyone else will do. Other limitations would be budget, and things that are possible and practical. Each person has the opportunity to suggest some actions that would be constructive and would help to reestablish the relationship based on mutual respect, trust, and love. An agreement could make life better for them and for everyone else in the family.

Mediation Services of Adams County has trained mediators available to help you work through strained family relationships, neighbor disputes, or other conflicts for an economical fee based on income. If you would like more information about Mediation, please contact Mediation Services of Adams County at 717-334-7312, or check out our website, http: //

Mary Kay Turner is a teacher who is also a board member, volunteer mediator and trainer for Mediation Services of Adams County.