Project Vic: This is the next in an ongoing series of videos where I blog about my own efforts to walk my talk as a mediator and mend my relationship with my dad. It’s one thing to be a terrific mediator when you’re with strangers dealing with a problem you’re not living with, and quite another to apply those skills when you get home to your family.
I’m going to update Project Vic, for better or worse, about once a week. I went to see my dad January 27-30, 2011 and he even agreed to be a guest blogger!
So stay tuned, and wish me luck!
Not sure why my hand is shaking…except that I’m talking to my 83 year old dad after 6 months of family war. I even had to hire an attorney because he threatened to sue me. Fantastic. So this is the first time we’re seeing each other after all of that trauma and drama, and I think we’re both relieved that the worst seems to be behind us.
Mediating your own dispute is HARD! What I finally realized, however, is that what he was worried about with my mom’s trust was probably the opposite of what my brother and I were worried about with my mom’s trust. It wasn’t easy, but I sat down at the kitchen table in his house and I asked him, “What’s your worst fear with all of this?” And he told me he was afraid he’d need to get at some of the trust money and that he’d need to ask me every single time, like I was giving him permission to get at his own money.
My suspicion was right. I was not worried at all that he’d over spend or go crazy. My dad is about as tight as it gets. My brother and I were worried about being disinherited (seriously–it had gotten that bad). So all of the fighting wasn’t really necessary since we were concerned about 2 different things. Opposite things, in fact.
All it took was a serious conversation. A frank conversation. An honest conversation. And a difficult conversation, of course. We’d been going through lawyers for a couple of months and hadn’t managed to talk, so I’m not trying to diminish how hard it was to sit down and talk with him one on one about this. He might be 83 but he can be a pretty intimidating guy and heaven knows he’s stubborn. Must be where I got it….LOL.
Like so many of the 8 Keys to Resolving Conflict it was something which was simple, but not easy. Like so many things in life.
Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post