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When Siblings Argue Over a Parent’s Senior Care

By on Jun 5, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

It’s heartbreaking to watch your parents age, especially when you and your siblings become caregivers to the person who has always been the one who cared for you. In many families, this difficult time becomes even harder when adult children do not agree on what’s best for their aging parent. What if your sister thinks it’s time for your Mom to go into assisted living, while you think she would be happier with an in-home caregiver? What if you live closer to your Dad and are almost always the one doing all the work, while your siblings don’t seem to carry any weight? Or, what if you’re carrying most of the financial burden for your parent’s care, while your brother stands idly by? Situations like these can tear families apart, at a time when an elderly parent needs peace and stability the most. While you may believe that you’re right and your sibling is wrong, continuing to argue is not in your parent’s best interest. So how best to resolve a seemingly intractable elder care dispute? The first step is to ask your sibling for a calm discussion, and then really listen and try to understand their point of view. Ask questions and try to get to the heart of the matter. You might be surprised to learn that despite your differing opinions on exactly how to care for your mother or father, both you and your sibling are both motivated by love, and you both want the same thing: stable, loving care for your parent in their final years. Once you’ve established this understanding, it’s much easier to work together to find solutions that have your parent’s best interests at heart, so that you and your siblings can focus on making the most of the precious time you have left with your mother or father. If tensions continue to simmer, my objective dispute-resolution service may be the next step to help you and your siblings move past the family feud and toward family...

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Instead of Goodbye: Mediation vs. Litigation

By on May 29, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Whether you’re in a troubled marriage, having issues within a blended family, or have differences with siblings in the care of an elderly parent, family relationships can get messy. Sometimes small disagreements explode into huge conflicts, and when everyone digs in their heels, relationships begin to break down. Too often, that’s when families shatter, and the tearful calls to lawyers begin. When your marriage or family reaches a breaking point, don’t call an attorney. Call me first. I’m Sharon Dolak, and I’m a mediator who works with families and workplaces to help resolve conflict in a positive way– before the damage becomes irreversible. Mediation is a fast, confidential, and affordable way to resolve personal disputes. It isn’t a legal approach – it’s a formal process that brings people together and helps them quickly resolve their conflicts on their own. I serve as an objective, unbiased third party, guiding people in conflict toward greater understanding, and helping them repair their relationship and create solutions to their conflict that each of them can live with. If your conflict with a loved one seems to have reached a dead end, start working to save that relationship. I can...

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Importance of Listening in Relationships and How to be an Active Listener

By on May 20, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I’m a professional listener. I help people resolve longstanding, intractable disputes in their personal and professional relationships. As you might imagine, this job is all about communication and helping people understand each other and become understood. And that, of course, starts with listening. Listening is so important in relationships, and that’s true in both our business and our personal lives. A lot of people consider themselves good listeners, but surprisingly few of them have really perfected the fine art of listening and responding effectively. The first thing to remember is that good listeners respond reflectively. This means that when someone tells you something, you respond by restating what they just said, briefly, in your own words, without judgment. Nobody likes to be confronted, so the first thing you might feel when someone addresses you with a problem is a flash of anger. If you respond with anger, you’ve just escalated the situation into a major argument. And that, of course, won’t get either of you any closer to resolving the actual problem. Instead, be the person who sets the stage for a calm discussion. Calmly let the other person know that you hear him by paraphrasing what he is telling you. It’s really hard to yell at someone right after they show you that they are listening and really understand what you’re saying. A good listener keeps the response short and concise, focusing on the heart of the matter. If you consistently practice paraphrasing, you’ll soon develop a sense of what the most important part of the message is, and mirror that back to the other person in your own words. But there’s more to active listening than summarizing what the person is worried or angry about. It’s equally important to let them know that you understand how they feel. And that’s an active listening technique called reflecting feelings. This is similar to paraphrasing because you are mirroring what the person is saying, in a concise way. But this time, the focus is on the person’s emotions, whether they are angry, sad, ambivalent, excited, or something else entirely. You’re not saying you know how they feel, because honestly, none of us can get inside another person’s head and really...

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Marriage Counseling Vs. Dispute Resolution

When couples get to a sticking point in their relationships, many assume that the next step should be marriage or couples counseling. But many couples are surprised to find that counseling may not actually be the fastest and most effective way to overcome a conflict and repair their relationship.

Read Brian’s story.


Counseling is a long-term, ongoing strategy designed to examine personal issues that may contribute to unhappy relationships. A counselor is trained to dig into the past, pinpointing and…

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Saving a Marriage

For one blended family, mediation created harmony where once there was anger and hurt. After counseling failed, the newlywed parents came to Sharon Dolak. Together, they learned how to communicate and quickly disign a solution that created a peaceful home for both parents and stepchildren.

Here’s his story ►