Outcomes Offered

■ Negotiation strategies

■ Win-win solutions

Suzi wanted to go to a party. Who wouldn't? Especially as this was no ordinary party. It was a beach party. It had been almost the only thing her friends had been talking about for the last couple of weeks. What they would do, who would be there, what they would wear. It was going to be the best party of the year, perhaps the best party of her life.

But there was a hitch . . . and a big hitch. Her mom had said no. Suzi was desperate, and the more desperately she pleaded her case, the more emphatically her mother said no.

"But everyone is going," pleaded Suzi.

"I don't care who's going," replied her mother. "Even if the Queen of England were going, you are still not going."

Suzi was disappointed. No, worse than that, she was heartbroken. This was her best friend's party. How could she tell her that Suzi's mom wouldn't let her go? She'd look a real dork if she was the only one not there. The other kids were bound to tease her. Heck, they might even dump her as a friend if she didn't join in and participate in what they were doing.

Sunday dinner came around and Suzi's grandmother joined the family for the meal, as she nearly always did on Sunday. Gran noticed how glum Suzi had been looking during the meal but didn't say a thing. It was Suzi's turn to wash up and Gran said, "Let me help you," while the rest of the family shifted into the living room to watch a video.

"What's up?" asked Gran as Suzi dumped the dishes into the foaming water. Gran wiped a plate with a tea towel.

"Mom won't let me go to my best friend's party," said Suzi, sadly.

"Has Mom explained why she doesn't want you to go?" asked Gran.

"No," replied Suzi.

"Then for a moment, put yourself in her position," said Gran. "If you were Mom, what would your objections be?"

Suzi hadn't stopped to think about her mom's side. All she had seen was what she wanted. "Well," she answered after thinking for a moment or two, "it's a beach party. Maybe she doesn't trust us or thinks we'll get into trouble. Maybe she thinks we'll drown or something, but we all know how to swim and look after ourselves."

"Are there going to be any adults there?" asked Gran.

"No," said Suzi, "who wants their parents hanging around when you're trying to have fun?"

"Might it just be," said Gran, "that your mother is concerned and doesn't want anything to happen to you?"

"Nothing will happen," objected Suzi.

"Maybe you're right," said Gran, "but maybe Mom's worried in case it could. You know, when your mother was your age, we used to play a bit of a game. I think we both knew what was happening but we still played it out any way, as if neither of us knew. If she was going out somewhere, I would ask what time she wanted me to pick her up. She would always add an hour or two to it, saying maybe eleven or twelve o'clock, thinking I wouldn't know what she was doing. I'd tell her that was far too late and that I wanted her home by nine. She'd object and we'd both come to a compromise at ten or ten-thirty, which was around what both of us had been thinking all along.

"That way, neither of us was the winner or loser; that way, she got to have time out as she wanted and I got to see her home at a reasonable time. By finding a compromise we both got something, though maybe not completely, of what we wanted.

"I am wondering how you might reach a compromise with your mother on this one. What do you think she wants?"

"I think that she wants to see that we're supervised," answered Suzi, quickly adding, "but we don't need an adult around."

"Then how can you reach a compromise," asked Gran, "where Mom is happy that you are being supervised and you don't feel you have an adult peering over your shoulder all the time. How might that happen?"

"I don't know. It can't," said Suzi. "Mom wants to be there and nobody else wants an adult there." "Then maybe think of some compromises," suggested Gran. "What if Mom dropped you off and sat in the car park in her car, spending the time studying for the course she is doing? What if she took her laptop into the café at the beach and worked on her studies, while glancing out over the beach at times to make sure you're not drowning? Perhaps she could take a walk along the beach and still not be seen by your friends while you're having your party."

Gran could see the possibilities being thought over by Suzi. "When can you make the time to have a chat with Mom about what her concerns are, what you want, and what sort of compromises you both can make?" asked Gran.

They quietly finished off the dishes and joined the rest of the family to watch the video. Next Sunday over dinner, Gran was delighted to hear Suzi happily recounting the beach party details of the day before. She was also delighted to hear Suzi's mom telling about how she had enjoyed a walk along the beach and some quiet time sitting in the café working on her laptop. Suzi came into the café and joined her at the end of the great party.

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