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Ep. 33: Family Dynamics: A Mediator’s Guide to Better Conversations

“Sometimes we don’t have a lot of time and we’re forced to make decisions, but I think the more that we can have these decisions before we reach a crisis, the more ability we have to listen to everyone involved.”


When your parents’ abilities reduce and their care needs to grow, how do you turn those challenging family conversations into caring and constructive talks?

Join Cathleen as she speaks to Ellen Waldorf, the founder, and principal of eWaldorf Mediation in Newton, Massachusetts. Ellen has mediated hundreds of cases, primarily focused on divorce and family issues. A sought-after mediator, Ellen shares with us some of her hard-won knowledge and specifically focuses on how to have a more fruitful family dialogue and achieve thoughtful solutions.

Show notes:

Ellen Waldorf didn’t succeed in her first career goal as a new Yale graduate. She interned on “Late Night with David Letterman” then turned her attention to Law. She has a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from the New York University School of Law. Before meditation, she worked for a private investor, practiced corporate law, clerked for a federal appellate court judge, and taught English in China.

Ellen transitioned to mediation work full-time in 2001. Her firm, eWaldorf Mediation, has successfully mediated hundreds of cases including divorce, family, probate, and business issues. She co-leads Divorce Mediation Training Associates and Step to Center.  Ellen also serves on the board of the Community Dispute Settlement Center.


Reading List for Difficult Family Conversations:

  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
  • Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen
  • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
  • Optimal Outcomes by Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler

What’s next?

What are your views, comments, or questions on having constructive family talks and arriving at thoughtful solutions? Share them with us at or find us on your favorite social media platform

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Cathleen Toomey

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