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Family Matters

    “Like father, like son” “The family that prays together, stays together” “Home is where the heart is” “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family” “Family is forever” “Treat your family like friends, and your friends like family” “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” “Nothing is more important than family”   The problem with family, is that almost everyone has had one. Which makes almost everyone an expert. It is easy to fall prey to the bias of false consensus wherein we assume, not necessarily correctly, that there is such a thing as the “typical family” and that this “typical family” mirrors our own in terms of dynamics, values and the correct way of handling conflict at home. This bias can lead us to offer advice and support to others in times of crisis, that are relevant to our own experiences but don’t necessarily translate to a family with different values, cultural practice and history. Par
Recent posts

VIDEO: SCCR event: Ripples...The Power of You 'Mediation - A success Story?'

Click here to watch a presentation  that I gave on the 19th October 2023 (National Conflict Resolution Day) as part of the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution's (SCCR) Ripples...The Power of You online events. I really enjoyed giving this presentation, though as per usual I spoke too much and we basically had to skip the Q&A which is my favourite part. One day I will learn! Mediation - A Success Story? with Alan Jeffrey, Senior Mediator, Cyrenians This event on the  19th October 10:00  is with Alan Jeffrey, Senior Mediator, Cyrenians. We are thrilled to have Alan join us on National Conflict Resolution Day. As mediation continues to grow as an alternative way to address, repair and settle conflict, more attention is being paid to how we can ensure mediation is as successful as it can be. Join Cyrenians senior mediator Alan Jeffrey in this interactive session to explore what makes mediation successful. Particularly focusing on the situations that are most suited to mediation

Kilts, tuxedos and badgers

The following blog article first appeared in 'Mediation Matters! - Issue five'. Mediation Matters! is the quarterly newsletter of the University of Strathclyde Mediation Clinic where I am a lead mediator and a recent board member.  The Mediation Clinic provides a free mediation service in which experienced practitioners work alongside trainee mediators to help people resolve disputes without going to court or tribunal. In high school I won an award for ‘charitable giving’ when I organised a sponsored silence in honour of Children in Need, encouraging a dozen or so of my peers to refrain from speaking for a day. As an adult, it occurs to me that I received this award not for the amount of money raised (certainly less than £100), but instead I was being celebrated for providing the stressed and fatigued state schoolteachers with a day of relative calm. This was my last brush with adoration, having not been gifted an award since that day at 15 years of age, or indeed been invited

How to talk about religion and politics (and why you absolutely should) - Part 2 - Have you already decided you are right and they are wrong?

This five-part series ‘How to talk about religion and politics (and why you absolutely should)’ explores the importance of having difficult conversations about the most controversial and divisive topics. How can we turn the most difficult of interactions into an opportunity to change minds, learn from others, and gain a deeper understanding of those who see the world differently from us? This is part 2. Part 1 can be found here In part 2 we ask - Have you already decided you are right and they are wrong? What, if any, is the difference between debate, discussion, and dialogue? I find this to be an interesting question, one which evolves the longer you sit with it. It may be that initially, you see no difference in these three words. As a Venn diagram, the three sets certainly overlap, and colloquially you could argue that these are synonyms, standing in for each other reliably in everyday conversation. Conversation is the key word here, the trifecta of debate, discussion, and dialogue

Let's settle this like children

  You know those people you meet and almost immediately, before you really know them, before you’ve shared anything personal, before you’ve learned what makes them tick, you know with a burning truth in your core that they’re an absolute arsehole?  Heather isn’t one of those people. Heather’s brilliant. Heather’s not an arsehole. As she pulled up in her wee red car, unfathomably early in the morning, to pick me up outside my home, I knew straight away we were going to get along. Her exuberant personality was evident as I opened the car door, a beaming smile and a joyous greeting forced me to step out of my early morning crotchetiness despite the cockcrow of first light still ringing in my ears.  Heather greeted me like a childhood friend. I could almost access false memories of parties, shared banter and trips to the pub, such was the wholesome familiarity with which she hailed me into the car. Yet this was only my third time meeting Heather in person, and those other meetings were br

Will you please start acting like an animal!

  Steve and Andy aren’t happy with each other. Steve stole Andy’s lunch, a delicious fruit platter piled high with pineapples, mango, and ripe bananas. Understandably, this made Andy angry - he was looking forward to this exotically sumptuous banquet. Steve doesn’t feel too guilty though, he was already furious with Andy, for Andy had only that morning performed a salacious dance for Lola’s benefit, Lola being the female that Steve has his eye on of course, and sadly for Steve, she seemed to enjoy it. As fists are raised towards the canopy and panted barks ring through the forest, violence is all but certain. Chimpanzees, for that, is what Steve and Andy are, have been known to aggressively maim, kill and even cannibalise their brethren when conflict arises. This is bad news for Andy, the smaller of the chimps who I’m sure does not want to be eaten by his family. As the conflict escalates and violent hoots give way to physical posturing, the troop is seconds away from wild and savage c