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Necessary Conversations: How to Think Like a Mediator in Your Own Family.


As our older population grows, more of us are likely to face challenges such as safety, caregiving, end-of-life planning and legacy concerns. Before these issues become emergencies, you may decide it’s time to engage family members in some difficult conversations. What guidelines can you learn from professional mediators to navigate these tough issues?

In this workshop, professional elder and family mediators Judge Carolyn Miller Parr and Sig Cohen will draw on their 30-plus years’ combined experience to train participants on how to start, stick with and survive challenging conversations about issues that matter deeply.

"The holidays particularly can be a time when stressful family issues surface," says Marti Bailey, director of the Senior Association and Community Outreach. "Mediators can teach us how to handle the most frustrating situations so we can preserve the joy of the season." Judge Parr and Sig Cohen will focus on common situations such as old grudges, the disapproval of a family member’s choices (for instance, the grandchild with tattoos) and handling opinionated people, rudeness and bad manners and expressions of bias.

Registration: Required. By phone at 202-364-7602 or by mailing your check, made payable to the Sibley Senior Association and marked "Mediator," to

Sibley Senior Association
5255 Loughboro Road N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20016

Schedule: Doors open at 9:30 a.m.
Conference from 10 a.m. – Noon.

Parking: Free, in the multi-level parking garage
Cost: $10

Sibley Senior talked with Judge Parr and Mr. Cohen about their work in elder mediation:

Why are so many people afraid of confrontation?

Carolyn: I think fear is huge. You may have to change yourself—or forgive someone or apologize. You may find out you were wrong. You may have to give up something to get a solution. I think older people are especially afraid of it because they don’t want to lose their independence.

Sig: Adult children can find themselves in a role reversal situation. The son, after his dad taught him how to drive 50 years ago, now has to tell Dad to give up the car keys. 

Is there an effective way to defuse anger in a dispute?

Carolyn: One of the things we’re going to talk about is how to handle anger. What you can do instead of being defensive is ask questions such as, "What is most frustrating to you right now?" After a few other questions, the other person’s anger begins to dissipate because they’re being heard. Then you can say, "Can I tell you how I see it?"

Judge Parr has mediated or resolved hundreds of conflicts as a judge, litigator and professional mediator. She holds a J.D. from Georgetown University, an M.A. from Vanderbilt and a B.A. from Stetson University, which named her a Distinguished Alumnus and awarded her an honorary doctorate.

Sig Cohen has mediated cases for the D.C. Superior Court and privately for more than 15 years since retiring from the U.S. Foreign Service. He holds a B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in international relations from the University of Chicago.


Saturday, October 19, 2013 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM


Sibley Hospital, Medical Bldg, Conference Room 2
5255 Loughboro Road NW
Washington, DC

Registration for this event is closed.
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