Myriam, an elderly lady, was referred to me by an acquaintance who thought I may be of help in facilitating a difficult dialogue between her and her married son, Scott. It was evident to me from the moment I met them that they had enormous love for each other. It was also obvious that they were both very tense and concerned about the outcome of the session.
Each tried to explain how it seemed that every attempt Myriam made to reach out to her son caused enormous stress to both of them. According to Scott, Miriam’s attempts were much too frequent. Myriam said that he “never” answered her calls and that she “never” saw him!
Scott admitted that so many calls from his mother caused him to not respond immediately, which in turn created the need for his mother to call again, send another text, and frequently an email as well. Now, by his own admission, feeling stressed, angry and somewhat guilty, Scott would finally respond, sometimes calmly, and sometimes not so calmly. This, of course, only made things worse with Myriam, and the conversations did not always end well.
Sometimes the calls ended by scheduling a get-together, at which point one or both felt the need to rehash the difficulties in their mode of connecting prior to their meeting. This pattern had become increasingly difficult for both Myriam and Scott, but their love prevailed. They truly wanted to find a way to reestablish a better way of communication.
After they each told their side of the story, we talked about:
- The best way for both of them to get in touch with one another;
- The timing of the call back;
- Setting limits; and
- Not responding out of anger or guilt, which only made matters worse.
Once they had a chance to tell one another how they felt about their interactions, or “lack thereof,” Myriam and Scott felt more content. They had each been heard and had understood. In fact, once all of those feelings were out in the open, they both expressed a desire to create more opportunities to spend time with each other and plan fun things to do as a family.
As I am relating this story to you, my readers, I am smiling, watching Myriam and Scott leave my office arm in arm. I hope this story also warms your heart and prompts you to reach out and resolve any disagreements that exist within your own family.
Jennifer Safian. divorce and family mediator
divorce and family mediation
upper east side of manhattan (nyc)
new york, ny