Archive for February, 2006

February 28, 2006

Shaping a child’s future

by Rod Smith

Let your child see he is capable of much good by encouraging him to be generous and kind toward others. If you, the adult, in your own life, place high value on generosity, the child growing up around you will form deep and lasting memories of your generosity and he will be empowered to seek a lifetime of giving.

Let your child see you give. Let him see you assisting in relieving the suffering of the poor, let him see you standing for justice and doing what is right.

Allow your child to see, as early as is possible, that his actions have consequences so that the world will not take him by surprise when it expects much of him. Let him see his moods can affect others, that his attitudes can be his best friends or his ardent enemies. Do this so that he will not be surprised when people expect him to take full responsibility for his life.

You, the parent, are the most powerful means of showing your child how adults behave, how the world works, how to be an effective and loving human being.

You, the parent, can do this from the earliest of days, and all without using guilt or blame.

February 28, 2006

My son heard the dreaded words, “I need space.”

by Rod Smith

“‘I need my space,’ (The Mercury. Friday February 24, 2006) were the few words said to my son upon returning overseas and on the day he was to propose to his girlfriend. He was home for Christmas and for three weeks she called him every day. Now he has been thrown into a state of collapse. Your article was so real for me, and, being a mom so far away I am writing to you to know what advice I should be give. I have gone from being sympathetic to having a hard line attitude. At the same time I don’t want to close our line of communication. He has given her a second chance, which lasted two weeks. He is slightly better but from being a positive bubbly chap to being a heartbroken negative person whom I don’t know.”

I’d suggest you leave it completely up to him. If your son had the courage and strength to find love (or what he thought to be love) in a far off place he probably has what it takes to survive this break up.

Engagements, or plans to marry, are easier to break than a marriage. It is better this couple gets the “space” it needs before a marriage than after it. It is a lot cheaper!

February 27, 2006

Peacekeeping / Peacemaking — there is a difference

by Rod Smith

Call me... 317 694 8669 (USA)

Call me... 317 694 8669 (USA)

There is a big difference between keeping peace (peacekeeping) and making peace (peacemaking). In a troubled emotional environment peacekeeping takes a lot of work, saps energy, and is usually a never-ending task.

Peacemaking lays groundwork for authentic peace to rule.

Peacekeepers work hard to keep the tensions from rising. They work hard at pretending that nothing is wrong and nothing is bothering them.

Jesus was a peacemaker (the cross is one evidence that he did not avoid conflict) and he calls his followers to be peacemakers. (See The Beatitudes, Matthew 5). Peacemakers allow tensions to surface, even encourage tensions to be aired. They might even precipitate conflict.

Peacekeepers avoid conflict at any cost. Their reward is the semblance of peace and tranquility and the slow demise of their integrity.

Peacemakers invite necessary conflict because they know there is no other pathway to increasing of understanding between warring people and groups.

Peacekeepers can endure fake peace for decades while the tensions erode at their well being and it often leads to feelings of being “called” or anointed. Peacekeepers often have high levels of martyrdom. How else would they rationalize the stress that accompanies the effort of trying to hide the proverbial elephant in the room? Peacekeepers are often portrayed a deeply spiritual because they can endure so much without “saying anything.” They often see their suffering, not as an expression of being misguided or of stupidity, but as a product of faithfulness to being “Christian.”

d-is-for-differentiation1Peacemakers value authentic peace more than its distorted parody. The peace that exists between people with the courage to endure conflict, for the sake of lasting peace, is like gold when compared with its counterfeit cousin.

In your family, at your work place, at your place of worship, move toward lasting peace with courage. Assume your legitimate role as a peacemaker rather than avoid conflict in order to keep a semblance of peace that is not worth having.

Call Rod now…..

February 27, 2006

Should I let the school or the parents know?

by Rod Smith

My son (8) came home from school very upset about children who had turned him away from a game they were playing on the school field. He tried to join in and as far as I can tell, the older boys (10 year olds) who happen to live near (our family) sent him away. Should I make the school or their families aware of this and what do you think I should tell my son?

You will be a very busy mother if you involve yourself in everyday childhood skirmishes. Besides, what would you tell the school about the nature of children that the school doesn’t already know? Unfortunately, your son is experiencing every-day life for people of all ages.

The boy, after you have offered him appropriate comfort, has the potential under your guidance, to begin to learn valuable lessons on how life, society, and friendships work.

Rather than blame the school (or the older children) for anything, consider inviting your son to think about how he will behave when the circumstances provide him an opportunity to choose to be hospitable to others even if they are younger (older, fatter, thinner, stronger, weaker) than he is. Teach, comfort and challenge your son, rather than contact the parents of the other children or the school.

February 26, 2006

Questions to stimulate healthy thinking…

by Rod Smith

Questions are frequently more important than answers. Here are some questions to consider at the beginning of the week in the hope that they will inspire you to make courageous choices toward living fuller, more meaningful lives than you are already living:

What do you really want?
Are your daily activities and relationships aligned with what you really want?
Are you free (within the inherent “restrictions” of all your choices)?
Are you free within the choices others have made on your behalf?
Are your relationships as healthy as possible?
Are you experiencing the significance (impact, influence, community) that is particularly yours?
Are you regularly using all your skills?
Are you living the kind of life that is regularly exploiting all your talents and potential?
What are the desires of your heart?
Would you recognize the desires of your heart if they were given to you?
What specific steps are you taking to move nearer to your long-held dreams and goals?

February 23, 2006

The gift that made my month – a painting of my yongest son and me

by Rod Smith


February 23, 2006

I need my space…..

by Rod Smith

“I need my space” are some of the toughest words a partner can hear. They ought to be used with great caution. The short utterance can emotionally disable a person and send them into a rapid emotional, even physical, decline.

Asking for space always raises questions:

Does that mean you want out?
Does that mean someone else has come along to occupy my space?
When did I begin to be in “your space” in a manner that was uncomfortable to you?
How long have you been “putting up” with me?
How long have you been planning this?
Why did not you tell me earlier?
Don’t you see this is very unfair since you have been thinking this a long time and have all you plans in place while I am taken by surprise?
We have been doing this, this way for a long time.
I thought you supported the way we operate?

Telling someone with whom you have shared life that you need space might be met with utter confusion. When a partner “needs space” a sudden vacuum enters and one or both people no longer know exactly how to behave with each other anymore.

February 23, 2006

A message to teachers…

by Rod Smith

Make neither the child you teach nor his parents into your enemy. Contempt, even slight contempt, for your students and their families, will not further the honorable goals of a good teacher, but infect the classroom environment to the detriment of all.

No matter how poorly students or their parents might behave, you will not be capable of effective teaching if you engage in conflict with members of your school’s community. There are many, and complicated, reasons that children (and their parents) misbehave.

Teachers, being as close, and as involved as they are to families, can frequently become the most convenient of targets for the frustrations of both the children and their parents.

Don’t take it personally. Don’t allow a child’s or a parent’s aggression to succeed in engaging you in conflict. Fighting with the children you teach, or their parents, will not do you or anyone any good at all.

Aggression, like anxiety, is contagious. It immobilizes, polarizes, and has no redeeming qualities for the classroom teacher. You, the teacher, are the professional in your field. It is hard to learn from an enemy (real or perceived) or in the presence of one. You are called to be above engaging in conflict with your student and parent community.

February 22, 2006

I am “talking” to a man in the Internet and my husband doesn’t know…

by Rod Smith

My husband doesn’t know I am talking to a man on the Internet. We have never met face-to-face but he lives about 100K away and so it is not impossible for us to meet. He wants to phone me but I am hesitant to give him my cell phone number because my husband also uses my phone sometimes. This person “listens” and I can “talk” about anything. I want to meet him. He knows I am married. What should I do? (Letter radically condensed)

The Internet offers an illusion of intimacy. You are being suckered in, conned, and trapped. Do not fool yourself into believing he is “listening” or “loving” you. This anonymous no-good is aiding you to be sidetracked from your marriage and offers nothing worth having.

I?d suggest you cut off all contact with this prowler immediately without explanation. Perhaps he is in the distribution area of this newspaper and might read this column and get the message about your wise decision to move on from this stupidity. Loving, caring men do not operate in the manner you have described.

Focus on your marriage. It is the arena you already have in which to establish something authentic and enduring than will ever become of the deception and duplicity you have recently chosen.

February 22, 2006

I’m married to a pessimist…..

by Rod Smith

“There is an expression that says ‘Two men looked out of the prison bars and one saw mud and the other saw stars.’ Please give me your opinion on ‘negative people’ and how to handle them. I have been married to one for many years and at times it gets me down.”

It is a matter of perspective as “negative people” usually see themselves, not as pessimists, but as “grounded” realists

While it might be hard to believe, your sense of optimism might be as tiring for your spouse as is your spouse’s pessimism is for you.

I’d suggest you avoid the attempt to change a negative person into a positive one. This will meet great resistance and you will unnecessarily corner (or trap) each other over matters that are not worth fighting over.

Try to accept that you are married to a person whom you regard as being negative just as you spouse will have to accept that he or she is married to an optimist. Do not allow your spouse to infect you with negativity (to change you) anymore than you want to try change what they are. Surrender control.

No matter what attitudes surround you, remember that it is you alone, who determines your mood on any given day.