Archive for May, 2010

May 31, 2010

Nine things worthy of pursuit…..

by Rod Smith

1. To be the most generous person you know.
2. To hold everything you own with an open hand.
3. To share everything you know with willingness.
4. To do all you can to empower the people within your circle of influence.
5. To be able to say “yes” more than “no” to the adventures that come your way (Ed Friedman)
6. To have the capacity to “see beyond” the limitations set by your family history, your nationality, and your faith story.
7. To be able to live within your means.
8. To embody forgiveness, freedom, and grace for all who will repeatedly and naturally attempt to sabotage you as you live your full and passionate life.
9. To embrace your dark side (everyone has one) by trying to understand it, accept it so that it will not need to push itself onto your center-stage and take you by surprise in response to your denial of its presence.

June 1st, 2010: Today our journey to Australia and Singapore begins. Traveling in the USA used to be a pleasure. Now it is usually a nightmare: no food on domestic flights, heavy security, frequent flight cancellations, lots of impatient “entitled” people. You can only imagine what all this means to my two boys! Hoping for two successful connections: Chicago and San Francisco.

May 29, 2010

Dating a single mother sucks…..

by Rod Smith

“I suggested my girlfriend and her 4-year-old son move in with me. The second day I knew it was a bad idea. Dirty plates, food, clothes everywhere; disorder, chaos. Sometimes I hate the boy. He manipulates my girlfriend. He is destroying our relationship. We talk about it and she says, ‘He’s just a kid.’ He is hyperactive with ADD and she won’t use medicine. Every time we go to the cinemas we have to leave in the middle because the boy can’t sit still. In restaurants he is under the table and throws food. The boy NEVER has a punishment and now he punches us. I doubt our future. I don’t want the boy in my life. She rarely bathes him so he smells bad. She makes him to watch television on my bed and I hate to go to my bed and smell her child. I cannot rest in my bedroom. I really love her. My family says that i must leave her. Dating a single mother sucks.”

None of you is benefitting here....

So, how do you really feel? It seems mother and son need something you are not equipped to offer. Tell the woman your truth with the willingness to act upon it. This environment is not serving anyone of the three of you well.

May 27, 2010

Three birds with one stone…..

by Rod Smith

Congratulations Brett and Sally....

1. Writing this column is as much a part of my life as my morning coffee. Knowing you read it every day in The Mercury, and others get it in different formats in the USA and beyond, allows me a feeling of connection with my readers. I want you to know that schools in the USA close this week for summer, and my children and I will be traveling to Australia. I will spend one week of five fulfilling a speaking engagement in Singapore. I will apportion a segment of the column to reflections from the road.
2. Although somewhat indulgent, I cannot help but draw attention to the birth of my great nephews and niece in Durban this week. James, Adam, and Savannah Arthur were born to Sally and (Glenwood Old Boy) Brett Arthur. The triplets join siblings Kaylee and Amy. The Arthur family clearly take “Go forth and multiply” very seriously.
3. Glenwood High School is one hundred years old. This weekend the community will celebrate its fine history. I offer congratulations to all who have made Glenwood High School one of the top schools in the Southern Hemisphere. Good luck for tomorrow’s rugby – someone please email me the results!

May 26, 2010

The children run all over her…..

by Rod Smith

“I am single and seeing a woman in her thirties. She has two children (about 9 and 7) who run all over her. She has no idea how to discipline them. They need a strong man to discipline them and I think that is going to be me. Is this a good idea since I am probably not going to marry their mother?” (Heavily edited)

Why would you continue to date someone when you know you are probably not going to move toward marriage? This is only acceptable if you have told her you have no intentions of marrying her and she has agreed, given this knowledge, to continue seeing you.

While you are the obvious candidate to assist a mother who appears to you to be overwhelmed (my word not yours) the helpful challenge would be to empower the mother to be more effective. While the mother may invite, and even desire, your help with disciplining the children, it is not a good idea for the long haul.

If you get between parent and child you will find it tough when she inevitably sides with the children against you. Remember, “piggy in the middle” is fun for everyone, except piggy! Stay out of other people’s issues – especially when there is no formal commitment.

May 25, 2010

He shows a lot of interest in her…….

by Rod Smith

“My wife has a lot of interest from a man at work where they coach a sport together. What should I do?”

Get face-to-face with the man. Ask him directly what his intentions are and let him know what you are seeing with regards to his interest in your wife.

Ask your wife (who presumably says there is nothing going on) to include you in all correspondences, texts, emails, and so forth. If there is nothing to hide this should be no problem at all.

Volunteer regular hours to assist your wife. I am sure there is always a need for more help and it will be a way of spending time with your wife and getting a taste of what she is facing.

If there is anything going on between your wife and another man the best thing you can do is “push the system” or exert some pressure to have the truth come out. It might not be the truth you want, but then at least you will know it and be able to do what is necessary to get on with your life.

May 24, 2010

The persistent challenge we all face in all relationships…..

by Rod Smith

Getting “lost” in a relationship, or over investing or over-functioning to the detriment of one’s well being, is very easy to do. The challenge of intimate relationships, including being a sibling, a son or daughter and a parent, having in-laws, growing and developing a career, is not only found in the desire for closeness, but also in the persistent challenge to maintain essential uniqueness. Unless you have both (togetherness and separateness – both at the same time and from the outset) the wheels will certainly ultimately fall off.

Becoming consumed happens between husbands and wives, parents and children, professionals and their jobs all the time. Such “losing” of oneself to another or to a job is often applauded as a mark of true commitment, dedication, the mark of a dedicated parent, spouse, or employee. In truth, distinctness, uniqueness, self-awareness, maintaining integrity, while also being deeply coupled or committed, is the mark or challenge of maturity.

If you do not define yourself in any relationship the relationship will define you. If you do not tell the world who you are and what you want, the world around you will impose its anxious shape upon you.

If you err on the side of deep connection, work on your uniqueness. If you tend toward independence, increase your capacity for deeper connection.

May 23, 2010

How to fight with those you love….

by Rod Smith

“Rules of engagement” for conflict between friends and lovers and members of the family:

1. We fight to love each other more powerfully while understanding that conflict is sometimes necessary to remove or negotiate our way around natural restrictions that come in the way of all love.

2. We fight to better understand each other and because some deeply seated beliefs and positions are only clarified through benign conflict.

3. We do not fight to hurt, damage, or destroy but rather to clarify thinking, to define ourselves more clearly, and therefore, to see each other more fully.

4. When we fight we do not bring old issues into the fray, triangle others onto our side, or hide behind Scripture or other sacred writing.

5. When we fight we do not use stereotypes about men or women, race, creed, culture, or nationality.

6. We put a time limit on our conflicts, agreeing that the necessary conflict will not pervade every part of our relationship. Troubles in parts of our relationship do not need to contaminate the whole.

7. When we fight we will always give each other the benefit of the doubt, the offer of complete forgiveness, and an open dialogue free of cynicism, sarcasms, and retribution.

8. We will agree to disagree, respect our differences, and embrace our similarities. (From Gail S. Gibbons)

May 20, 2010

Seeing like a bird

by Rod Smith

Gaining a bird’s eye view of all of your relationships can be very helpful. You might notice:

There’s interdependence among all the people to whom you are related and all whom you know. We need each other.

While there is a give and take in all healthy relationships, absolute dependence, on the one hand, and complete independence, on the other, is seldom helpful. Both, though, are occasionally necessary. An ill person might be dependent for a week or two. If there has been violence within a family a complete cut off could be necessary. Other than in extreme circumstances, extreme positions of dependence or cut-off are seldom helpful.

Interdependence is the better option. Interdependence (mutual give and take) is fostered by the ongoing refusal to over or under-function.

In every relationship one person will drift toward one position or another – often with the benign cooperation of the other. A lazy wife sees her husband’s compensation for her laziness as an act of love! A disengaged dad expects his wife to over-parent on his behalf. A teenager might know that there is no limit to how many times mom or dad or grandma will bail him out! A colleague might expect you to cover for her just as you might have done a hundred times already and therefore secured her irresponsible behavior.

Creating a flow-chart, a diagram, some form of visual of all your relationships will assist you to see how, where, and when to change your expected behaviors that you may secure a healthier, more interdependent future.

May 19, 2010

Beware of “nice” – it isn’t always….

by Rod Smith

When dealing with difficult situations or difficult people…..

1. Your responses are more important than the difficulties or the problems presented. You can choose to escalate (step up) the anxiety or embrace and reduce it (step down). The latter is usually infinitely more productive, although at times, purposefully escalating issues can bring necessary change. It takes wisdom to know the difference.

2. Knee-jerk, reactive behavior will usually hurt you, while planned, creative, and honest responses will facilitate resolution and healing – if resolution and healing are even possible.

3. Not all conflicts can be resolved, nor can all painful or destructive circumstances be healed – but it is possible to allow everything we face to become a transformational crucible, a context that stimulates growth, provokes change, and transforms our character. “What can this teach me?” is a more useful response than, “How can I win?”, “How can I be vindicated?” or “How can I get out of this?”.

4. It is helpful to acknowledge that some people are so toxic, destructive, bitter, or disillusioned that resolution is impossible – and it is better to sever the relationship than it is to play with their fire. By the way, they are often the “nicest” people. Beware of nice! Be even more aware of “religious and nice.” It is often a calculated front. (“Buite blink; binne stink!” This is an Afrikaans idiom: “Outside sparkles; inside stinks.”)

5. As a general rule grace and flexibility will triumph over resentment and rigidity, forgiveness is always more powerful and liberating than harboring resentments.

May 18, 2010

What do you want?

by Rod Smith

What do you want? Are you able to articulate your “big picture dreams and desires” in 20 or fewer words. I challenge you to write it. Be careful not to waste your want-quotient. Remember, it is only possible to want for yourself. All other wanting is useless.