Archive for August, 2006

August 31, 2006

“Staying the night at 15” column generates lots of response…

by Rod Smith

Yesterday’s column generated much response. One response (edited for space) appears below. To respond to points of contention: the husband’s role ought not be “less” because he has been inconsistent. His role is not “earned.” He is dad. Suggesting he has less of a “voice” is a cop out for a girl making adult choices. Contrary to what most teens perhaps believe, a teenager’s relationship with his/her parents is more important than any romantic relationship.  

“If I were the girl even being as mature as I was at 15, I must say that I would not ‘opt for what my parents preferred’ if they had allowed me to act a certain way for an extended period of time and then tried to implement a new rules. While it’s true that although the dad should still have some authority, it would be stronger if he were consistent with his daughter. Were I his daughter, I would be less willing to listen to him. Although 15 is a young to be sexually active, it’s not abnormally young and it sounds like her choice of partner is not a bad one. It would be a good idea for her parents to discuss positive sexual relationships and birth control — so she should at least be educated in the subject.”

August 29, 2006

Husband and wife disagree over daughter’s (15) relationship…..

by Rod Smith

My husband and I have an awful wedge between us over our daughter (15). She has been involved in a relationship with a young man (17) for 18 months. My husband has never truly been in favor of the relationship but because of his inconsistent involvement with our daughter’s upbringing he sometimes accepts it. I am more accepting. We disagree about her staying at his home, which has been happening on a regular basis for 10 months. I have no problem but my husband is totally against it. I know, and like, the boy and his extended family. They have high standards. Both young people have assured me that they are not sexually active. My daughter pleads with me to trust her. (Letter edited)

Response: Your daughter is too young for such an intense relationship but it is unlikely, after permitting it for 10 months, you will be able to stop it. I think, and I am often wrong, it somewhat naive to think there is no sexual activity between these children.

Agree on what both parents would prefer. Inform her. If she is worth trusting, and is sufficiently mature for such an intense relationship, she will opt for what her parents prefer.

Your husband’s inconsistency does not disqualify him from having authority.

August 28, 2006

He wants me to watch pornography and it is very uncomfortable for me…

by Rod Smith

I am 23. My boyfriend (32) wants me to watch pornography with him. It is very uncomfortable for me. He insists, and I feel pressure to give in. He says it is “normal” and that his previous girlfriend did it all the time. (Letter edited)

Response: Always refuse sexual behavior you don’t want. As adults you and your boyfriend can do whatever you mutually consent to do, but going against what you find acceptable will not do you (or your relationship) any good.

Evidence, limited I agree, suggests your boyfriend is potentially abusive: he exerts pressure, won’t hear your “no”, makes hurtful comparisons to get his way. I’d suggest you are one of the many women he will use, but not love.

The problem with pornography (which has no redeeming features) and apart from its degradation of the “actors” is that it promotes sexual behavior that is only lustful. It omits entirely the portrayal of the sex act as something mutual, respectful, private and loving, best enjoyed by married, respectful equals. By the way, if he and his previous girlfriend were so sexually compatible I can only wonder why they are not still together.

August 28, 2006

Son will have nothing to do with his family in the name of his church

by Rod Smith

Our loving son (23) got married two years ago and invited only my husband and me from his family. This was very hurtful. He has refused contact with his family whom he believes don’t understand his Christian faith. They live with his in-laws and his wife’s stepfather is the pastor. My husband has just recently undergone serious surgery. Our daughters went to visit him to tell them about his father’s illness. They stayed in the car outside their home to give him the message. Email contact is curt and brief. I emailed my son begging him for support as I miss him so much. The response was that the support I must get is from God. For a year we have respected his wishes but hope he will soon share his life with his family at this is difficult time. (Letter edited)

While your son is an adult and free to disconnect from his family, the disconnection is unlikely to serve him enduringly well. He is demonstrating cult-like behavior, whether he belongs to one or not. Except in rare circumstances, where a member of a family has been a victim of violence or sexually aberrant behavior, there are no helpful reasons to sever family ties. Your son is unlikely to find lasting emotional peace while being cutoff from his family.

August 26, 2006

He wants sex to see if it works with me…

by Rod Smith

Reader’s Question: My boyfriend says we have to have sex to see if we are sexually compatible before he will continue seeing me. What do you think?

Rod’s Answer: What an old and ridiculous line. Move on! Your boyfriend is what I call a “pp” or “penis propelled.” If you really want to assess sexual compatibility it can be done without removing a single item of clothing!

First, compare credit reports and financial statements to see how each of you handles money. How you respect, use and save money, will exert more power over your long-term sexual compatibility than any immediate sexual encounter will indicate. It’s very hard to be passionate, faithful lovers when you are fighting over maxed-out credit cards.

Second: Compare your attitudes toward and your relationships with your immediate family. You can tell everything worth knowing about a person by how they respect and appreciate their parents and siblings. People who show little respect for their immediate family, or little desire to care for them, are unlikely to be a successful long-term husbands or wives, no matter how good or passionate they might be in a bedroom.

Third: Assess attitudes toward hard work. A shared, healthy attitude and high regard for hard, honest work, will give both of you useful insight into your long-term compatibility much more effectively than will the immediate experimentation with each other’s bodies.

August 24, 2006

Dad tells son he loves him — on his death-bed…

by Rod Smith

(In response to column published 8/22/06)

“My dad was not an emotional man and on his deathbed a few years ago I urged him to tell me he loved me. This sounds selfish but I knew it was something we both needed. Before he died I saw him cry, I heard him tell me he loved me and I felt the joy of being a young child as he said it. I think this conversation made his death easier for him and for me.” (Letter shortened)

August 24, 2006

My husband was murdered and now my in-laws reject me,,,

by Rod Smith

Reader Writes: I lost my husband earlier this year. He was murdered. Since the incident his family have been absolutely nasty. They saw me as “good” before. Now I am “bad.” My sister-in-law is very controlling. They want me to hire a private investigator to solve his murder. My husband was a man of peace and prayer. He would not want me to do that. She wants to take over the whole process. He was son and brother. I’m “just” a wife. They have really hurt me. His sister has turned his entire family against me. My children are young. I would do anything to protect them against any negative influences. The children have suffered enough without this. What do I do? (Letter edited)

There are no easy answers to the painful circumstances that your family, in-laws included, is facing. As you further grow in strength and insight, following this dreadful occurrence, and once a full year has passed, I trust you will be very clear regarding three broad principles: Your position as wife and mother is not determined by the emotional condition of your in-laws: the future, for the sake of your children, must not be driven by the devastation of the past, and, the understanding that anger, and, invasive control are often forms of understandable, but misguided grief.

August 22, 2006

Should I ask my aging father to tell me he loves me?

by Rod Smith

My father is getting older. He has never told me he loves me. Do you think I should ask him to say it once before he dies? I feel child-like asking the question because I am an adult with my own children. I have no problem telling my children I love them – both because I do love them, and because I want my children to hear it from me, their mother.

Rod’s Reply: Yes. Tell him that hearing him use the words “I love you” directed at you would mean a lot. Being an adult, you are fully aware that asking your father to say he loves you does not mean he will. I think it is a risk worth taking. Asking him could prove good for you both.

Sadly, some sons and daughters will never hear loving words from a parent, and, but for the most toxic of families, it is something it seems we desire from a parent, no matter how young or old we may be.

Expressions like, “I love you”, “I am proud of you”, “you please me”, “being your parent has enriched my life”, and, “I brag about you whenever I have the opportunity,” are sentiments that can enrich anyone’s life, even if you have to point-blank ask for them to be said.

August 22, 2006

I don’t normally enjoy your column…

by Rod Smith

Dear Rod,

I’m sorry to tell you this but I don’t normally enjoy your column! The reason is that you tend to be too judgmental and autocratic. Maybe you are thinking now that I’m being defensive and reactive because your answers touch a soft spot with me. You may very well be correct but I believe the reason is because nothing is ever so definite and ‘black and white’ in any relationship. Though we always do feel as though this is true – the old big, fat ego again.

I have attached one of your previous column’s which my boyfriend put next to my bedside and gave some of our friends a copy to ‘prove’ to them that I was such an awful person and exactly what you had written applied 100% to me. Very hurtful!

I wrote that letter to our psychologist who we were seeing for help in our relationship. I now go alone as he says I am the one with the problems, I am the one that needs to change and he is perfect – yes, 100% correct and with no personality flaws.

With regards to today’s question and answer: I do identify with this woman as my boyfriend does attack, insult, character assassinate and yell at me. a couple of months ago I used to react equally as provocatively and angrily. I now do not react as I have realised it is when he is inebriated, worrying about his Mom who has cancer, or his business which is in dire straits or all of the above. This by no means justifies his behaviour but at least I am not perpetrating the behaviour or getting caught up in the lose-lose situation. He inevitably calms down and carries on as though nothing has transpired.

His ‘good’ side is 80% of the time and he is the most generous, affectionate, fun-loving, passionate man I have ever known so it far out-weighs the dark side!

However, I have stayed in destructive relationships prior to this for the simple reason that I have had to believe and ‘buy’ and allow the verbal abuse – e.g. I am stupid, argumentative and have serious mood swings for no rhyme or reason – because if I didn’t I would have to walk away because nobody can believe they are loved if someone accuse you of these atrocities and they are NOT true. Do you understand the logic here? I’m finding it difficult to articulate. I just mean you have to buy into the story so that you believe the love is there and that person can help you change and then, only then, will the relationship work. Psychi of an abused woman?

Anyway the other issue is, to quote you, “Tell me what keeps a person in a relationship that apparently offers nothing but pain and humiliation?” We stay in relationships like this because it does not just offer pain and humiliation! We don’t discuss or question the beauty and joy and comfort and compassion because there isn’t a problem on that side and we desperately want to correct and heal the dark side. Also it seems that in some relationships we desperately want the roller coaster ride because without the lows and dips they can’t have the elating, endorphin releasing highs. another reason for staying or being ‘trapped and the victim’ is low self esteem – get them to watch Oprah’s show!

I adore all your advice re kids, parenting – single and step! Thank you for that! God bless and I’m sure you’re helping hundreds of people.

Durban, South Africa

August 20, 2006

Thinking about authentic love…

by Rod Smith

Those who are growing in authentic love try to listen, prefer to negotiate mutually agreeable decisions when conflicts arise, yet boldly and lovingly enter disagreements when agreement is not easily established.

Those growing in authentic love know that such love often hurts, perhaps even more than it experiences good, warm, and soothing feelings. This is partly because those who are growing in authentic love are constantly reminded of how little power and control people really have over each other.

Those growing in authentic love forgive people even when forgiveness is not requested. They forgive because they know resentment, bitterness, and hardness hinder everything that is beautiful about the process of personal growth.

Those growing in authentic love expect those whom they love to know what they want from life and from love. They themselves have a clear sense of who and what they are and understand that self-definition is an integral component to nourishing enduring relationships.