February 2, 2016

How he treats his mother….

by Rod Smith

My mother would say you could tell everything about a man from the condition of his shoes.

I admit this did not make too much difference to me when I was a boy and I pay little attention to my shoes even now – although I do have polish and brush on hand and do the necessary almost daily.

I am sure that she’d agree there were a few other indications of impeccable integrity and fine character apart from a good spit and polish.

Want to know about a man?

Watch how he treats people who serve him – like waiters in a restaurant or the porter in a hotel. Watch his behavior when he’s trying to impress others – when he’s showing off a little; watch what he chooses to show off about. Watch how he responds when things don’t go his way – when he doesn’t get that airline upgrade or his meal isn’t exactly as he ordered it. Listen to what he finds funny, to the jokes he tells, to the gossip he spreads.

Get a little closer and watch how he treats his mother.

You can tell everything about a man (and a boy) if you watch and listen to how he treats and speaks to his mother.

February 1, 2016

Ex-husband comes in the house

by Rod Smith

“My ex-husband insists on coming into my house when he drops off the children because he ‘pay for all this’ and he insists on seeing the children’s rooms to ‘check they are safe’ and he walks around the house as if he still lives in it – in a kind of bullying way. He does this most if he has been drinking. He never stays too long but I want to him to respect my home as my home and to respect that I am a good mother. How do I do this?”

This is troubling on a few levels: the father of your children is checking up on if the children are safe in your house BUT he is driving them after he has been drinking. This is the first issue to face.

Children deserve drivers who are 100% sober. This is a matter for you to address with your lawyer and your ex.

Bullies seldom learn from reason – you have a legitimate desire to protect your boundaries but enforcing them with a man who sounds disrespectful and entitled my be difficult for your to do on your own.

It’s time to gather your community and seek the wisdom of those who know you the best and have loved you the longest.

January 26, 2016

Is your Talk-Therapy helping you?

by Rod Smith
  1. Your close friends think you are becoming too outspoken and are speaking your mind in ways they consider uncharacteristic of you. They say you are out of control.
  2. Your have reframed your secrets and can now see how they have held you back or shifted your trajectory and you are doing what you can to get rid of them or use them for your wellbeing rather than your slow destruction.
  3. You have seen the light regarding the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking and have embraced and engaged in the necessary conflict required to be a peacemaker.
  4. You have embarked on defining yourself rather than allowing others to do it for you and have faced the music of those who’d prefer you to stay as you were.
  5. You are progressively shedding victimhood and taking full responsibility for yourself in every manner: financial, spiritual, psychological, and sexual.
  6. You are being generous and kind at every turn and have begun to see first-hand the domino effect of goodness, forgiveness, and generosity.
  7. You are writing a script for the immediate and the future that includes respect, mutuality, and equality in all your relationships.
January 25, 2016

Victims abound

by Rod Smith

There are victims everywhere – and, here’s the kicker, there may be one within you, or me.

Resist him. Don’t placate her. He’s out to get you. She’ll persist until she gets her way.

Unless he or she is willing to grow, any expectation to grow up, become stronger, to cast aside the victim mode, will be resisted.

Don’t give in, don’t placate, or soften your serve – be kind but treat people as strong and capable.

Perversely there are rewards for being a victim.

Easily offended, rapidly bruised, ever on the lookout for any who may infringe their fragile sense of self, be it for race, gender, sexual orientation, language, or size, victims crave attention, demand coddling and expect social waivers.

The backlash, if you expect someone who trades upon his or her victim status to grow up, is inevitable.

It’ll be tooth and nail. You’ll be called names – the nicest of which may be uncaring or unloving.

But you will potentially spark the best in people.

You will foster growth and see the victim emerge from his or her victim-hood and contribute to your community in helpful, creative ways, rather than suck the life out of everything as victims are often prone to do – even if he or she is living within you, or me.

October 22, 2015

What to do with pain……

by Rod Smith

If, in the midst of emotional pain, I tell myself that all people have pain or that it’s normal to have pain or that my pain is not as bad as the pain others have to endure I know I am not really dealing with it.

It’s not serving its useful, healing purpose.

This form of self-talk retains the experience in my head and blocks its necessary journey to my heart.

Of course, this can go on for years, running around my head forming a pathway like a deepening inescapable ditch.

If I admit that pain is a useful messenger and that some of it is a result of poor choices, the result of misguided self-importance, unique to me, and give myself some time, space to mourn the lack of connection I am experiencing with others, then the pain makes its transition to my heart.

I escape the ditch, the circular thinking and strongly experience my frailties and vulnerabilities.

Once the inner-journey is made, from head to heart, I find I am able to treasure the growth rather than endlessly trash myself for things I did when I knew better but lacked the wisdom to behave accordingly.

September 19, 2015

How to, and how NOT to spoil a child…..

by Rod Smith

How to spoil a child

Run interference for your child as much as possible so that nothing has a chance to teach your child that actions (an inactions) have natural consequences.

Give your child the distinct impression that teachers and coaches and school authorities are idiots who deserve little or no respect.

Break rules of civility yourself so your child will naturally learn that your child is above them and that they do not apply to anyone in your family.

Praise your child indiscriminately for everything but most especially where little or no skill or talent is demonstrated so that the pain of having to learn something new or difficult may be delayed or at least avoided.

Blame the teacher if your child doesn’t do homework: attack the way it was assigned, or the timing of the assignment, or the lack of access to what was required of the assignment on the Internet, or the relevance of the assignment – but never even vaguely suggest the child’s homework is the child’s responsibility.

Do your very best to live as though every discomfort in your life is someone or something else’s fault so that your child may carry the same sense of blame into the future.

How not to spoil a child

Have a full, meaningful life before you conceive, adopt, or foster a child. Do this so the child is unlikely to become the center of your universe and therefore have to occupy a place in your life, and have power in your life, that no child is designed or equipped to hold. It’s not too late to develop a life outside of your child. Children who are LEAST important to their parents’ salvation (success, reputation) are more likely to enjoy healthy adult lives than those who are faced with the unreasonable task of making their parents happy or appear successful. (Ed Friedman, Generation to Generation – liberal paraphrase)

Allow natural, reasonable consequences to occur so that your child may appreciate the power of cause and effect, as imperfect as it sometimes is.

Get out of the way as much as possible so your child learns to show up, speak up, and self-advocate as early as possible. Be this way especially with the school.

Try to do fewer things for your child so that your child has to do more and more. Self-sufficiency is among the holiest of gifts you can give your child and it is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

August 23, 2015

Monday Meditation for Children

by Rod Smith
  • My heart goes out to children who live in unsettled houses. Houses where the abuse of alcohol or drugs dominates everything. Houses where rage can come out of nowhere and rip people apart.
  • My heart goes out to children whose parents were once together – and now they are apart. Although the child has received strong and loving messages about why his or her parents could not or would not live in the same house anymore, it still makes no sense to the child.
  • My heart goes out to children who are fighting a deadly disease and to the siblings who are fighting it with them. The necessary lack of certainty bolstered with statements of faith, all within the same adult sentence, can be confusing. It’s at least as confusing for the child as it is for the adult trying to comfort them.
  • My heart goes out to children whose boundaries are ignored and violated and whose voices are ignored or silenced. Such children might as well be invisible to those commissioned to love and protect them.
  • My heart goes out to children who are hungry in a nation of plenty, those born outside the dominant culture, those whose troubles are the fruit of a troubled nation.
August 12, 2015

Her grief – I don’t know what to do…..

by Rod Smith

“My very close friend’s husband died a month ago. She is battling to come to terms with it. We work together. I am trying my best to comfort and to be available for her as much as I can. She has adult children who are married and are very good to her. They visit and have meals with her. This morning she broke down crying again. Please advise me. How can help her. When I see her crying I don’t know what to do.”

Your friend has not had nearly enough time to re-order her life in the absence of her husband. It may be years before she feels as if her life once again has some meaningful traction.

When she breaks down crying at work let her handle that with her immediate supervisors. Perhaps there is a room at work where she could get some privacy to do necessary grieving. Your challenge is to not allow her grief and expressions of it to unsettle and distract you.

You can comfort your friend. You can be alongside her when she is struggling. But, all grief has to be faced head-on by the one who is grieving. Nothing can or should attempt to short-circuit the process.

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August 11, 2015

My son (15) has a drinking problem…..

by Rod Smith

“My son (15) alternates in living between his father and me for a week at a time. His dad and I don’t get along we are very cooperative as parents. Our son is an alcoholic and finds it even if it is hidden. I have cleansed my home completely of every drop but my ex won’t do the same. He hides it. He’s not much of a drinker but I think he should get of it. Our son goes to AA and sometimes he’s fine then he slips. He (our son) also uses porn and smokes weed. What must I do?”

Your son does not drink because there is alcohol available at his dad’s house. He drinks because he has a disease. While your urge to get your ex-husband to emulate you is understandable I am going to suggest that you leave the management of your son to his father when they are together.

Control what you can control. Exercise authority over what pertains directly to you.

Your son’s multiple challenges are ultimately your son’s issues.

I have the hunch that this is something your ex-husband is holding out to underscore.

While I have compassion for your son – he lives in a world that will not hide its many temptations from him.

August 6, 2015

A note to dads….

by Rod Smith

I’ve heard these themes (these are not actual quotations) time and again from young people. The spin varies depending culture and economic status.

  • I wanted my father to talk with me – not only teach me or tell me what he expected or to tell me his stories from the past that seemed like ancient history to me – but to engage with me.
  • I wanted a dad, not just a sports coach – although I loved it when he coached me sports.
  • Even though I was trying to be very masculine and self-sufficient I needed to know my dad had my back.
  • Sometimes it felt as if my father was really trying to get close to me but that he didn’t know how – like he was afraid of me. I only know that now – I couldn’t see it then.
  • All I wanted was for my parents to be friends – the divorce didn’t stop the fighting.
  • When my parents were friends everything was hopeful about life – when they fought, even over the smallest things, it would feel like my life was falling apart.
  • “The thing I remember the most was when he’d ask my mother to leave the cooking up to him and to me – those are the times I really treasure.” (Actual quotation)
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