of Aotearoa New Zealand
The relationship between the father and his adult son appeared on the whole to be healthy and working well. However, there had been some deep challenges throughout the years that put an underlying strain on their relationship. It all came to a head one night at the local club with verbal and physical outbursts between the two.
Restorative practice was recommended. Both came separately to talk with the Facilitator about whether this approach would be appropriate. The Facilitator agreed it would be a starting point for them through providing an opportunity for them to talk openly in a safe forum. They both agreed to initiate a restorative approach.
A restorative approach always involves two trained Facilitators who talk confidentially with each person involved and asks questions around the emotional impact on them, what their part in the harm is, and what they can offer to start to repair the harm. Facilitators also assess participants’ safety in bringing all parties together, identify support people and also consider who else may need to be involved. As only one support person was identified, participants agreed a support person from a local community agency would also be involved.
Restorative Practice Facilitators provided a safe environment for the participants to really listen to what was needed to be said. In this format they gained a new understanding of each other, acknowledged their own part in the problem and took responsibility in resolving the issues. They were then able to agree the actions they wanted to take, something they would not have been able to on their own, due to their strong emotional involvement.
As always the Facilitators followed up with the participants 6-8 weeks after bringing them all together. Out of the three actions they had decided, one had been carried out and the remaining two had been replaced with a more suitable action. This was encouraging as it reflected ownership by them finding a better action to help repair their relationship breakdown. In addition, the new action also supported the son to be a better father himself.
Restorative practice provided an opportunity for the father and son to re-connect and understand each other better. It also showed care, concern and respect for participants who were then in a better position to want to make positive changes.