Think for a moment just how powerful it would be if we could eliminate the “us versus them” mentality in foster care and form a team out of the foster parent and the biological parent. Think what this could do for the well-being of the child involved.

By applying Bruce Patton’s Seven Elements of Negotiation we could potentially create a dream team. At a minimum, we could at least broker a stronger compromise between the two and eliminate the “us versus them” mentality.

patton's 7 elements

Patton’s Seven Elements of Negotiation

Let’s see how the seven elements could help form this dream team.

1. Interests. Understanding the interests of both the foster and biological parent involved, especially the interests for the well-being of the child, is extremely important.

2. Legitimacy. Ensuring they both feel fairly treated during every decision and discussion gives them a sense of legitimacy after a decision has been made.

3. Relationships. Understanding how they MUST work together for the betterment of the child helps build their relationship.

4. Alternatives. Allow them both to retain alternatives for special circumstances makes compromise easier.

5. Options. Providing them both options instead of simply declining their requests also makes compromise much easier.

6. Commitment. Alternatives and options lead to the two feeling that they are being heard and that requests are being considered, thus encouraging commitment.

7. Communication. This is the key to the entire process. It provides context and keeps all parties informed.