How can we see what's truly best for us?
It certainly wasn't easy for the teenager sitting in the mediation room with his mother. He had stopped going to school -- thus, their presence at the mediation session on this day. School authorities were willing to give this process one chance before they took stronger measures.
And it wasn't going to be easy. When we last looked at this case ["The Love in a Mother's Anger"], the mother in our mediation session had only just finished venting her frustration.
Luckily, Rosa, my experienced co-mediatior, had faced school-attendance issues before -- and, as I learned, had an insightful way of addressing them. Besides her warmth and ability to connect with students, Rosa had a way of helping them gradually to consider the bigger picture and what may truly be in their best interest.
And so Rosa made a simple observation: "I hear you'd like to be a chef? Great!" The young man nodded reluctantly in response.
"You know that chefs need a high school degree, don't you?" The teenager, until now sitting back with studied disinterest, sat up a little, eyes widened. Rosa had his attention.
"Let's see, how many years have you been getting up early in the morning and going to school? Ten years, yes? " A small nod from the young man. Rosa drew 10 small lines in a row on a piece of paper to show her.
"Was that easy to get up so early each morning, get dressed, and go to school?" she asked, looking at the 10 lines.
Small shake of the head, no.
"It was difficult?" Small nod of the head, yes.
"A sacrifice?" Another nod of the head, yes.
"But you did it? For TEN years? Wow, that's amazing," exclaimed Rosa. "And let's see," she said, looking together with the student at the piece of paper with the 10 lines. "Just two more years to go." Rosa drew two more short lines and circled them for emphasis.
"And after those two years, you can go to culinary school?" She looked at the student and then at his mother with a warm, encouraging smile.
"Do you think you can go to school for those two more years? I think you can," she said again with her hearty voice of encouragement.
After some minutes' more in this manner, finally a small smile and nod of tentative agreement came from the student. And an audible sigh of relief came from the mother. The mediation session wasn't over, but it was now on its way.
And perhaps a worthwhile lesson was learned on this day, which is not to just look at the immediate challenge, but also to look down the road at where one wants to go. And then perhaps we'll see what is needed to get there. In this case, the answer is: go to school. :-)
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.
For mediation and mediation training needs, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.