The Love in a Mother's Anger

Words aplenty are exchanged in a mediation. Yet there is nothing like a simple question -- asked at the right moment -- which can help turn things for the better. That is what I witnessed one day, co-mediating with a talented colleague of many years' experience who really knew how to ask such questions, especially to teenagers.

"Why do you think your mom is angry at you: because she loves you or hates you?" Rosa gently asked the silent teenager, sitting, arms crossed, in the mediation room. Also in the room was the teenager's mother, presently in a state of fury at her son's behavior: not going to school, coming home late, failing to do his homework, and hanging out with the wrong crowd.

For about 20 minutes, we listened as the mother let her son have an earful. And the son was none too pleased either, sitting in silence, looking away in protest.

But the mediator's question now got his attention -- and to ponder a bit. Slowly, reluctantly, barely audibly, the son begrudgingly answered: "Because she loves me."

"Of course, I love him," the mother barked. And now the mother and son, though both still stewing, looked at each other with something less than total anger. Thus began a real conversation between them that day on how to find a better way. But it would take one more wise question from my co-mediator to move the son to go back to school. To read about it, please see the next installment ["It's Tough Getting Up for School!"].

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Joshua de Sola Mendes