Christmas Conflict

In the Christmas Season is when conflict from the whole year can come to a critical point. The parenting issues you’ve been ignoring can be a problem. Minor differences in values and ideas can become magnified by pressure from family and friends to do things a certain way. Most often, mediation can help avoid Christmas conflict in a couple of ways. First it sets  the stage for discussion about parenting time before Christmas, when parents are less stressed. Second, it can provide clear boundaries at Christmas, so you can spend time with family instead of arguing over who gets the kids when. With mediation, you can incorporate as much or as little flexibility as YOU decide, rather than depending on a judge to set boundaries without knowing your situation. If needed, hiring a parenting time expeditor to interpret a judge’s decree or a parenting consultant to make those decisions if you can’t agree can be a smart move. Then Christmas can truly be a joy.

Seasons of a Church for Mediation

The best time to mediate in churches is when members are not busy. Don’t try to mediate churches during December unless absolutely essential. If you’re in a farming community, don’t try to mediate in late fall harvest or spring planting time. If you have business people, tax time is not great. Unfortunately, when people are busiest, they most stressed and when they are likely to blow up and need a mediator. First hard cold in the fall and in late winter are also not easy times. Often it is better to put a “Band-Aid” on the problem in busy times and “agree to disagree” until spring or early fall, as summer is another time when people in churches have their focus elsewhere. And some issues are easily solved in spring when everyone is feeling better. I have even known problems in spring to seemingly “melt away.”

Systems’ Comfort: Resistance to Change

Most people love comfort: food, activities, people. What makes things “comfortable” is how familiar the thing is. The comfort food we all crave is usually foods from our youth; the activities that are comfortable we’ve done a hundred times. the reason I used comfortable in quotes above is because in systems whether family, work or church, the way things are and have always been may be very unpleasant, yet “comfortable” in the sense that they are a known quantity. Most people fear the unknown. That’s why most people, even abuse victims are willing to stay: the alternative to a bad situation may be an even worse one.

That’s why patterns stay the same in families and organizations. The more isolated a family, a community, or an organization is, the more it stay the same. The isolation may take the form of physical distance, how closed the system is (how many people enter or leave) or even personality (a system where people are open minded is more likely, but necessarily, more open to change). Many people in systems have learned that changing the status quo means a backlash from the group, so they have given up trying to change.

Doing the same way can be helpful if the environment around the system is stable. But a system that refuses to change when the environment has changed will eventually die. Imagine a man standing outside in a bathing suit for 6 months. It might feel good in July, but not in January! Many civic organizations are so established, even set in their ways, that to change would literally rip the organizations apart. Thus to change even when necessary can cause more harm than good to an organization and even to the people in it, or so they fear. Actually, some organization will rip people apart who bring change, but the demise of  a system may or may not destroy its members.