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Solving Problems Using Conflict Resolution Skills
One Family's Story
Page 2

—by Jean Fisher

Understand that people don't always agree on everything
"But it's not fair! He has nine other meets you can both watch. I only have the one dance!"

"Sarah, Shane feels just as strongly about this meet as you do about your recital," Dad said. "You don't have to understand why he feels that way, you just have to accept the fact that he does."

Look for solutions

"Brainstorm time", Mom declared. "Put on your thinking hats, we need some ideas here."

"I do have an idea," Shane announced. "Sarah will have a dress rehearsal for the dance, right?"

"Yes, that's right."

"Well then, you and Dad could go to the dress rehearsal and then my meet and see them both."
"That's a very creative solution, Shane," said Mom as she put her arm around a fuming Sarah, "but I don't think it is the answer to our problem. A dress rehearsal really isn't the same as the performance itself"

"Thanks, Mom", Sarah lost some of her stiffness and started thinking, too. "We could film them for everyone to watch."

"Another fantastic idea, but since we only have one camera we are back to the same dilemma," Dad said. "Who gets filmed and who doesn't?"

"Oh, yeah."

Everyone was quiet, thinking. Shane twiddled his thumbs.

Dad broke the silence by joking, "Hey, Shane wasn't that Science project you did last year on cloning? It is the only way I can see how one person can be in two places at the same time."

Two places at the same timehmmm. Shane stared hard at his revolving thumbs as an idea started forming in his mind. Soon everyone was watching those thumbs go round and round, first one way and then the other.

"No", he said, "not at the same time, but one and then the other".

"You mean a compromise", said Mom following his thoughts.
"That's it!" Sarah jumped into the conversation excitedly. "Each of you could go to one of the events and then halfway through switch places."

Weigh possible outcomes
"Sounds like a good idea to me", Dad smiled at his children. "You get equal amounts of Mom and Dad without cutting us into two. There is something you need to consider first," he said more seriously, "each of us will miss part of each event. I might or might not get to see Shane beat Victor. Mom might or might not get to see Sarah's perfect pirouette.  These things could even happen when we are in our cars trading places."

"Yeah, we know", Shane and Sarah said at the same time and grinned at each other.

Finalize the decision
"Okay then, I'll take Shane to his swim meet and then end up at Sarah's dance", Dad said. "That way I can gallantly present the Prima Donna with her flowers after the show."

"You're getting me flowers?" Sarah flung herself into her father's arms.

"Perfect, that leaves me with Mom for the traditional after-meet ice cream," Shane declared. "I'll not only be the fastest swimmer, I'll also be the guy with the prettiest mother."

"Thanks, handsome," said Mom, "and yes, I'll let you get two scoops of ice cream."

Following the above steps when solving problems through confrontation gives the proper respect to everyone's point of view and increases the likelihood of reaching a win/win solution. I hope it works as well for your family as it did for Shane and Sarah's family.

Bio Our editor, Jean Fisher, is a former elementary teacher. She offers "What's For Dinner?" as a free service for busy families.  One delicious meal is suggested for each day of the week, plus an organized grocery shopping list that can be customized to include all your shopping needs.  You will also find two stimulating table topics and one educational after-dinner activity for each day. As one happy visitor commented, "It's everything you need all in one place!"

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