Mediation to solve a dispute

Some conflicts lend themselves to mediation. Mediation, when successful, results in a compromise that gives each party more than they had when they came into mediation. Each party leaves a good mediation feeling that they now have enough.

My mother always felt that my sister and her children were ungrateful. She felt this because none of them ever said thank you when my mother took them to dinner every week. It burned my mother that my sister had never taught her children to say the words “thank you, Grandma.”

My sister’s position was that parents and grandparents give things to children and grandchildren out of love, and not in expectation of a show of gratitude. It annoyed my sister that her mother expected a polite show of gratitude from children she considered perfect as they were.

In this situation, had they been willing, a mediator could have made a great difference. The issue was very clear, and how to improve the conflict was also clear.

For purposes of their grandmother only, my sister’s children could have started saying “thank you, Grandma.” It would have made a big difference.

But, of course, my mother and my sister both insisted the other one would never agree to go to mediation and I dropped the idea after a while. The conflict lasted until the last days of my mother’s life.

In the situation where the conflict is “you hurt me” versus “no I did not, you fucking asshole,” I’m not sure what role a mediator would play, outside of hearing each party’s grievance against the other. Where is the mediated compromise in a conflict like this?

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