Archive for December, 2005

December 29, 2005

Should I ask him to have tests for STD before we have sex?

by Rod Smith

“Last month I met a man and things are heading towards sex. Should I ask him to have tests for sexually transmitted diseases before we are intimate?”

Rod Smith, MSMFT

Rod Smith, MSMFT

Yes. Since you find the idea of sex with strangers acceptable, such tests, for each of you, would be a good idea. I will not, given that you are adults, attempt to dissuade you from performing “intimate” acts outside of a context of a stable relationship, but you might consider getting to know this person, and perhaps even marrying him, before you take so sacred a step. (I have said “intimate” because you might be naked but there it is very unlikely there will be any authentic intimacy – intimacy takes YEARS).

I challenge you to tell this person that you do not enter deep relationships with men until you have seen what they are like under pressure, seen how they treat their parents, children, street people, waiters, bank tellers, and helpless animals. Tell him you do not build relationships with men who are in debt, who do not give generously to the poor.

Love, commitment, honesty, integrity, the things people usually want from an intimate relationship, are impossible to achieve with someone you have just met and these qualities are unlikely to emerge in a relationship when sexual behavior occurs before the relationship is sufficiently developed.

December 29, 2005

Some things just have to be repeated about “love” and control…

by Rod Smith

The content of my Email suggests there are broad principles that deserve repeating:

1. Love and control cannot coexist in the same relationship. Love appreciates a person’s absolute freedom, or it is not love. Controlling another, even for their “own good,” is never loving. People who love with authenticity resist any desire to exercise controlling behavior. Healthy people are vigilant to exorcise controlling tendencies from within themselves when such tendencies rear their very ugly heads.

2. Monitoring another’s behavior: wanting to know what they do all the time, who they talk to, what they eat, who they phoned, who phoned them, what they are thinking, are not indications of love, but of jealousy. Early in a relationship such behavior can be perceived as interest, or as signs that someone cares, but such monitoring is not caring or loving behavior. Love increases freedom. Love doesn’t box people by policing their thoughts or actions.

4. Too much too soon is a sign of doom in a relationship. Feeling very close very quickly, telling everything to someone on a fist date, falling in love “overnight,” having sex because it felt like a person was an instant soul-mate, are signs a relationship has jumped ahead of important developmental milestones.

December 29, 2005

What do parents want from a young son or daughter?

by Rod Smith

Apart from the obvious, like your good health, success, and happiness, healthy parents usually want very little from their sons and daughters. Giving your parents what they want will certainly not over-burden any middle or high-school student.

Essentially, your parents want to know you. They want to be included. Involved. They want you to know them. They probably do not want you to be their best friend but they do want you to be friendly, thoughtful and polite.

What they do not want is exclusion from your life in ways convenient to you, then inclusion in your life, again, in ways convenient to you. Many young adults seem driven to be totally independent of their parents, while at the same time presuming to share in all the benefits as one who is totally dependent.

A simple challenge

If you sincerely increase your willingness to offer your parents your time, hard work, good attitude with regards to school and family, their demands (rules, expectations) upon you will radically decrease. If you pay particular attention to increasing the quality of your relationship with your parents, their demands will become increasingly flexible and you will enjoy growing and healthy autonomy.

This is not manipulation, a game or a trade-off. When you genuinely offer your parents an authentic inroad into who and what you are, you will be demonstrating your capacity to cope with the very freedom healthy parents want their sons and daughters to have and enjoy.

Don’t lie to your parents. Being deceived by people in your inner-sanctum is as painful as painful and shocking as being hit, from behind, by a speeding bus. It is disorienting and often results in permanent damage. Truth is a far more attractive currency than lies. No. It is not “natural” or “normal” to lie to your parents and it is not “part of growing up.” Rebellion is not required for separation and development.

Ten ways to know you are growing up …

1. You take responsibility for your academic progress.
2. You don’t look for someone to blame when things go wrong.
3. You take responsibility for your attitudes and actions.
4. You have high standards when choosing friends and activities.
5. You avoid things you know are bad for you.
6. You focus on giving rather than on receiving.
7. You apologize face-to-face when apologies are necessary.
8. You do not talk negatively about people behind their backs.
9. You save more money than you spend.
10. You don’t pout when things don’t go your way.

Copyright 2006, Rod Smith, MSMFT

December 29, 2005

Should we go to the party?

by Rod Smith

Q: My extended family is in constant struggle over my father’s dependence on alcohol. It upsets my teenage children when he becomes abusive to their grandmother and to me, their mother, after a few drinks. I really don’t want to visit my parents over New Year. My eldest son, whom I did not think would even remember the unpleasant incident from last year, has asked if he can stay home if the family goes to their home this year. It would hurt my father’s feelings if he knew the truth, but I do not want to subject my children to all that again. My husband is fine with whatever I decide. What do you think I should do?

A: If you want a “Happy New Year” you might want to start it with a happy event! You are concerned about hurting your father’s feelings but will allow him to hurt your children and you? This is absurd! Don’t go. Tell your father his behavior from last year has had regrettable consequences. I would not suggest a parent ever knowingly subject their child to harmful experiences. Wild horses couldn’t get me to your dad’s house for New Year and I am not even related to him!

December 28, 2005

Mistakes single parents make…

by Rod Smith

1.“Over working” for the other (absent or present) parent;
2. Getting between the child and teachers, friends, coaches as if the parent can and must protect the child from all consequences, inevitable dangers and everything negative;
3. Giving the child the impression that he or she is their reason for living, the very reason the sun rises on any new day;
4. Treating the child as if he or she is so different and so special that he or she will never really need to be accountable for his or her behavior, mistakes, or failures;
5. Allowing the agenda of the child to take precedence over all other agendas. (Where established plans with other people are sabotaged because a child chooses not to cooperate.);
6. Giving a child things (games, toys, and so forth) to make them happy, while refusing to offer correction, guidance, teaching, and boundaries, and so give the child the necessary tools for a fulfilled, mature future;
7. Speaking, thinking, feeling and interpreting the world for the child, rather than accepting that each child is a separate person, who is able to speak, think, feel and interpret the world, at ever increasing degrees him or herself.

December 28, 2005

Ten reasons to have “You and Me” in your daily newspaper…

by Rod Smith

While there are more than TEN REASONS this advice column is different from Ann Landers, Dear Abby (and therefore a good juxtaposition to those very well-loved columns) I have listed the 10 that come immediately to mind:

1. Short. Takes 50 seconds to read and offers sound, to the point suggestions and advice.
2. Questions are not presented in full.
3. It is anonymous. Questions go to
4. Submitted to newspapers in two-week packs by email or download before deadline (over 1000 segments are already available).
5. Segments sometimes follow a theme. One reader said it was “better than a soap opera.”
6. Sometimes the writer expresses a personal note about general relationship issues.
7. Allows immediate access to readers on the Internet.
8. Advice is focused on strength, sometimes funny, believes in the resilience of people and covers a very wide spectrum of issues.
9. Writer is a family therapist who teaches family therapy in several countries each year.
10.Style allows for brevity, anonymity and cutting to the chase.

December 28, 2005

How do I know if I am in a bad relationship?

by Rod Smith

Toxic (poisoned) relationships are tiring to say the least. Apart from requiring mounds of energy, they can be filled with threats, silence, manipulation, domination and intimidation. Toxic couples often attempt to drown their pain in drinking, drugs and lustful or vengeful sexual activity.

Toxicity is apparent when “old” arguments frequently resurface, feelings of loyalty and disloyalty rage within you, anger seems to come from nowhere and you have a very short fuse. Life feels like a giant game of chess that’s impossible to win.

Often toxic relationships start with intensely sexual experiences. A new person seemingly offers you everything you ever wanted and so you quickly invest yourself completely. After a short while it feels as if you have been handed a script where the entrances and exits are seldom within your power and you are an unwilling actor in someone else’s play.

Remember there are always more options available for your life than it might appear. Problems play hide-and-seek before they become full-blown and begin to make life unmanageable. Poison doesn’t usually happen overnight. It is helpful to identify some of these issues before they become a debilitating.

December 28, 2005

Do I have to lie for my husband?

by Rod Smith

Q: My husband is an alcoholic. I have to lie for him. He gets angry if I don’t

You don’t have to lie for anybody; not your husband, boss or mother. It’s always your choice. At the same time, I understand how telling the truth might be difficult.

Decide to tell the truth, first to your husband. Tell him your days of lying on his behalf are over and that you will tell the truth as clearly and as kindly as you are able, to everyone. Tell him he can lie for himself if he so chooses but you will no longer cover his tracks. You will probably face some short-lived backlash but, hold onto yourself, stand firm. Get the support you might need from a close friend.

Most alcoholics have people who unwittingly support their habit. Without blaming you for his behavior (for it is his arm that takes the glass to his mouth) I’d encourage you to see that every time you lie for him, you are making his behavior possible. You are supporting the very thing you know is ruining him and hurting you. Such behavior on your part serves no one, least of all the alcoholic.

December 27, 2005

It’s a great life

by Rod Smith

See us here now and hear from us later

December 26, 2005

New Year Plans

by Rod Smith

This is your world. Go to it. It will not come to you. Break the rules and hurt no one. Stay out of control. Avoid balance. A balanced life aches for momentum while searching for safety. Be sharp-edged rather than well rounded.

Don’t tolerate difference. Tolerance is often arrogant, even contemptuous. Rather, get to know people who are “different” and your tolerance could evolve into acceptance and your acceptance could be transformed into love. Hiding behind many a “different” bush is a lifelong friend. Embrace diversity.

Recognize evil and depart from it. Evil is occurring when bureaucratic processes and religious procedures are rigidly honored while they hurt people, disrespect their values and ignore their traditions. Don’t look for hooded devils brandishing pitchforks; evil is where the lust for profit and unchecked power prevail, where lies are exchanged for truth, where integrity becomes expedient and ends justify means.

In 2006, strive to hurt no one and maintain your integrity. Value and love peace, but do not keep it. Make peace. Peacekeeping is tiring. Peacemaking usually follows intense conflict and is often permanent and creative. Live without damaging anyone.