What our organization believes:
- That divorce and separation does not have to destroy children by parental conflict;
- That parents raising children between separate households can do so successfully and without harm to children;
- That we, as an organization, can play a part in the empowerment of parents through education, resources, and mediation
Mediation Works began in 1996 offering legal assistant and mediation services to low income parents through Legal Aid. It has been a Parents Forever education provider since 2000. Our organization specializes in family mediation, particularly in divorce, custody and parenting time.
Lois Warner: Mediator, Parenting Time Coordinator, and Parent Educator
I believe that strong communities are formed by strong families. While divorce happens; while parents separate; children are sometimes born to parents that have not had a love relationship in advance, it does not mean that parents cannot raise healthy children. Conflict between parents occurs when parents disagree. Conflict can create growth. However, long-term conflict between parents destroys childhoods. Children will remember parental conflict long into adulthood.
Every family, has strengths and every family has challenges. Parents can tap into strengths when taught how to do so. Education, support and compassionate intervention are important resources for parents undergoing major transitions of separation and divorce. Communication and conflict resolution are learned skills. We can choose to learn healthy ways to deal with conflict or manage the changes that sometimes occur in our lives. To do nothing in the ways of growing through difficulty is a sure way to allow adversity to destroy us or our children. I believe that most people if provided with support and resource can work through conflict and find peaceful solutions. My life and professional mission is to provide support and encouragement to individuals and families in conflict, particularly through divorce and separation for them, and even more so, for the children involved.
I worked as an official court reporter for ten years, mostly in the family court system. I saw so much pain in the courtroom reporting many divorce trials. I also have an A.A.S. degree in legal assistance from the Itasca Community College and I also studied family dynamics and crisis management through Bemidji State University. I received training in communication and conflict resolution and advanced training in working with individuals with mental health challenges that affect the ability to co-parent. I underwent courses in basic and advanced parenting coordination through the Association of Family Conciliation and Courts (AFCC) attended at the Loyola College of Law in Chicago.
I am trained in divorce mediation and domestic violence mediation through the Erickson Mediation Training Institute in Minneapolis and have training in advanced mediation techniques, family group conference, workplace mediation and restorative justice. I have been a parent educator since 1999 teaching the Parents Forever curriculum. I developed my own parent education curriculum that is approved by the Minnesota Supreme Court that began as a live facilitated online course in 2009. While I started as the first online course available, and the online process was well received by parents ordered in a co-parent educational program, anytime online courses became available.
I am not an advocate for the automated online learning -- particularly when dealing with the heartwrenching and complicated dynamics of divorce and family. There is no discussion in automation -- no one to answer questions -- only endless screen after screen of reading materials (I have piloted the anytime online formats). While the materials are good, we as human beings, learn best with diversity in the learning processes -- listening, readiing, hearing, discussion, and learning from one another. Asking questions is an important part of learning. I finally decided that the best thing I can do for parents is to go back to what proved to be the best -- learning in a classroom. Asking parents questions, talking to them, teaching parents with the personalization the automation does not offer. I also know that parents work hard during the week, and I wanted to offer the opportunity for parents to attend on a Saturday instead of packing the class into an evening from 6-10 p.m. Parents can bring in a cup of coffee, and I teach them with videos, discussion and printed materials.
These are the reasons why the online option is no longer available -- I want to provide the best for the parents I serve.
I strive to use my education, experience and training to serve as many parents and families as I can, helping them find peace and unity as parents, placing the hurt and pain of divorce and relationship breakup aside, and help parents learn how they can work together effectively so children never have to choose between their parents or be forced to choose who they can or cannot love ever in their childhood years. Through many years of working with parents, I have seen the best in people and I have seen the worst. I have also seen some of the worst become some of the best, because they never gave up; they kept working at their attitude towards one another's right to parent; and with coaching and education they were able to overcome so much.
I always tell the parents I work with that "I don't do this for either parent; I am doing this for the sake of their kids." They always seem to shake their head in the affirmative and they understand where I am coming from. So, when you decide on one of our programs or services, I ask you to do so with the same heart... "do it for them...do it for the sake of their kids!" Find the best in yourself; tap into your strengths because they are there; and seek out information and resources.
This is a personal conviction. I always consider it a privilege and an honor to work with parents. I believe that with the power of prayer, good co-parenting education, and with the right resources and programs, families can be vibrant, healthy and strong even through the most difficult of circumstances if they do not give up hope.