Archive for February, 2011

February 28, 2011

For speakers, pastors… thing you cannot fake is authenticity

by Rod Smith

It's not about words, it's about creating a anxiety- free environment

Five, no six, things to remember when you have an important message to deliver

Your anxiety will speak louder than your words (written or spoken) – so do whatever it takes to reduce your anxiety. The message of your perfect speech or letter will be drowned by your anxious emotional presence. Anxiety is contagious – your audience will catch it from you. If your audience is already anxious, it is your task to be a “step-down” transformer and assist your audience to relax, to manage their anxiety, so that you may effectively deliver your message.

If an audience (of 1 or a million) is already closed down to you, your words (written or spoken) will only serve to push your audience further away from you – keep in mind that he or she who is doing the most work (over-functioning) is placing the “other” (of 1 or a million) in a position of power.

What you are heard to say (written or spoken) is much more important than what you intend to say or do say – when the stakes are high, people hear what they want to hear and anxiety makes people selectively deaf, blind, and mute. Filters, on both sides (speaker and the hearer) become erratic when there is much to gain or lose.

Resist saying to many people (the whole congregation, company, hospital staff, faculty) what you really want to say to one specific person.

Others (1 or a million) will resist listening to you if you are condescending, patronizing, or uninterested in their day-to-day lives and concerns. No matter who you are or how powerful is your platform or position, you cannot fake authenticity.

Who and what you are will be communicated to your audience whether you like it or not, if your message is well prepared or not, if your sentences are perfectly rehearsed or not. Your PRESENCE will be ultimately be the real content of your message.

February 27, 2011

My mother undermines me with my son…….

by Rod Smith

“My son (21) is oppositional-defiant. When he sees me is instantly disrespectful. I have told him I loved him, sent cards, given gifts, and he is still disrespectful. He refuses to talk. Part of the problem is that he lives with my mother. She undermines me. She is always undermining and disrespecting me. My son is angry because, due to my depression, I lost custody and he grew up in a foster home. I fought unsuccessfully for years to get him back. I do not know how to make amends.” (Edited)

1. Recognize your son is an adult therefore free to be independent of his mother.
2. Give up attempts to make amends for a sad, difficult past.
3. No matter how difficult the past, it is he (not you) who is fully responsible for his future.
4. Cease the cards, gifts, and pleas. Chasing him will only intensify his resistance and potentially leave you feeling helpless, humiliated, and frustrated.
5. If you want to shift family matters, focus on your relationship with your mother. Your conflict has NOTHING whatsoever to do with your son. I trust the obvious parallels are clear.
6. If your son treats you poorly he will do the same to your mother. Have a third party assess her safety.

February 26, 2011

Size matters

by Rod Smith

Size matters. In a family SIZE is all-important. I’ve seen many families where the children are “bigger” than the parents and their needs and wants determine almost everything. In such families the parents’ needs are continually ignored while every desire the children have is met.

Of course, in most families, parents willingly sacrifice for their children, but this ought not be the norm as it is in families with “super-sized” children.

I have seen children pitch a fit, stamp and storm – when a parent makes a legitimate request of the child, or has to alter a minor plan, or must pursue a detour, which the child perceives as hindering his or her freedom, creativity, rights, or friendships. Such toxic parent/child binds can be most tiresome and drain all the enjoyment out of family life.

When a mother or a father sees the light (acknowledges his or her indulgence of the child, can see the child is unpleasant to be around) and tries to bring the child down to an appropriate size, the child will understandably resist. Resistance can become ugly. “Un-spoiling” a child is no easy task. It is better not to worship children in the first place.

Bringing children “down to size” sounds harsh, even cruel. On the contrary, allowing or grooming children to be too big (dominant, controlling, demanding) is where the harshness and cruelty really begins. If you have discerned from yesterday’s column that your son or daughter is too big, it is probably not a good idea to suddenly impose all manner of restrictions and changes in an attempt to “bring him down to size.”

I would suggest that ALL the adults (biological, step parents, grandparents who foster the super-sizing of the child or cooperate with it) have an extended face-to-face conversation about your mutual issue. Depending on the size of the problem this might take several hours in which case I’d suggest you spread your meetings out over several weeks so people have a chance to think things through. (Talking about it is HALF the battle).

Implementing the strong, caring principles and their potential success that result from your conversations will hinge on the age of the child, upon how “late” the parents “catch” it, and on the adults’ ability to stay the course. As I said, it is not easy to un-spoil a child; the fact that children get too big in the first place is riddled with meaning.

It is not only children who can be too big in families. Dads and moms can be super-sized too, but it usually only one per family unit as there normally isn’t quite enough room in any household for two overtly self-centered people.

A super-sized (demanding, dominant, controlling) dad requires a wife to be super-small (submissive, voiceless, fearful). The really deceptive nature of this kind of family is that a small mother and a big father are often praised as “Biblical” order for the family – something I have even heard preached as if it is something for which to strive!

You can recognize a parent who is super-sized quite easily as you often can when faced with things or people that are really large: they get their own way no matter what, they sulk, stamp, and steam if they are resisted, they play the hurt puppy when they are not worshipped (honored, getting the attention they deserve), and they pull out the “big guns” on a regular basis (threatening, withholding, colluding, and “The Bible says”) if their desires are threatened.

The only way out of this hurtful and debilitating trap is for everyone to work on getting a voice (this is a way to increase in size) and to resist feeding pathology that has super-sized the controlling and demanding parent. Occasionally, in a remarkable display of humility, I’ve seen a super-sized dad get it and humble himself. But if it is tough to un-spoil a child, you must know how difficult it is to get a parent who thinks God wants him or her to be “in control” to be so unspiritual as to find authentic humility.

February 24, 2011

Establishing your independence is an act of LOVE…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Take UP your life - it is an act of LOVE

I am flooded with responses to my column about women who “lose” themselves to being a wife and a mother. Here are some broad suggestions to begin to resolve the issue:

Get a life before you get a relationship. Avoid any relationship where you are asked to compromise long-term goals, skills, and interests in exchange for the relationship.

If you have already “lost” yourself begin to claim your life back in small but meaningful ways: get your own bank account, establish your own passwords on your own email accounts. As an act of LOVE, do anything it takes to establish some independence.

Make a ruthless inventory of your skills, talents, and your interests, all of which have nothing to do with your being a spouse or a parent. This might be very difficult if you have been “lost” (plundered, dominated) for a long time.

Gather a small group of women friends and suggest you meet weekly in order to talk about everything BUT husbands and children. Spend the time listening to what other women want from life (not from husbands or children!). At first the group may experience long periods of silence as women learn that there is indeed a difference between what they want from life and what they want from their spouses or children.

February 23, 2011

Son and husband got into it and now husband says he’s done…..

by Rod Smith

“A few nights ago my teenager and husband got in a shouting match. It was getting very threatening and I stepped in to stop it. They would not back down. My son went to his room and my husband started packing his clothes. My husband told me that he doesn’t love me and wants to move on. The argument had nothing to do with me but it was where we are in our marriage. He has given up and decided that life would be better without me and his child arguing. He really meant it when he said that he doesn’t love me, that he doesn’t need me and wants to move on. I am devastated. I never thought he did not love me. I don’t want my family to know what is going on, they would turn against him and there would be no chance of reconciliation. What should I do?”

The first thing I’d suggest both of you do, while it might be impossible considering the recent event, is that you both assure your son that it is not his behavior that is causing the problems between his parents. Allowing your family to support you at this time is probably a good idea. I’d suggest your family know more than you think they do.

February 22, 2011

Six challenges for you and me…..

by Rod Smith

Increase your tolerance for pain (of those whom you love and your own) – this will keep you out of “rescue mode” with those whom you love and decrease your likelihood of engaging in your own unhelpful behaviors.

Focus on being a step-down transformer (rather than a step-up transformer) for the anxiety that surrounds you. Reduce rather than amplify surrounding anxieties.

Develop and eagle eye so you may see your life from afar and from “above.” Look beyond today for the larger context of who you are and what you are called to accomplish.

Listen patiently to others without waiting to speak. You do not have to agree but it is essential that you listen. Perhaps the only tangible evidence of love is that we listen to those whom we say we love.

Forgive before it is asked of you and especially if it is not. This is, of course, about you and not about those who are in need of your forgiveness.

Develop a “long-haul” mentality for your family and other intimate relationships. People are allowed to fail, people are allowed to let you down, other people are as fallible as you are. A long-haul mentality encourages you to stay with it even if things don’t go your way.

February 21, 2011

I cheated but my husband still loves me…..

by Rod Smith

“I decided to cheat on my husband. I won’t give excuses. I had always been a very strong woman. I always thought that any woman who left her marriage and split up her family didn’t deserve respect. Well, it happened to me. I met a man fourteen years younger than me. He was shy, sensitive, and handsome. We started text messaging one another late at night and then we eventually started seeing each other. I became obsessed with him. I moved out of my home and split my five children with my husband. This was the beginning of the end. The relationship with this other man lasted on and off for five years. I became a very angry woman. Anyway, during all of this insanity my relationship with my children was almost completely severed and they all began living with their father. Through this my husband maintained love for me and he’s been my friend. I know I love my husband still but I’m not in love with him. How do I re-establish an ‘in love’ feeling with my husband.” (Edited)

Being “in love” and becoming obsessed with someone are poles apart. Perhaps you can live without the “in love” feeling in return for the stability and sanity your saintly spouse offers.

February 20, 2011

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 ADHD 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.”

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.

February 20, 2011

The content needs to be extended to men …..

by Rod Smith

“I am a clinical psychologist, marital and family therapist with 25 years of experience I have just read your daily column about women who lose themselves (Friday, February 18, 2011). Usually I agree with you write and I advise my clients to read your column. I agree wholeheartedly but the content needs to be extended to men. I see too many men who try too hard to please their partners and in the process lose their own identity, which of course wasn’t too strong in the first place.”

Anky Willemsen, Westville

February 20, 2011

I crave his attention….

by Rod Smith

“My husband and I have been married for several years and have two girls (8 & 4). We are good friends and parents. My husband chooses not to passionately kiss me, I have received pecks for I don’t know how long. At first I was insecure about my breath. Then I took a look at him and realized it was his insecurities with bad teeth problems. I crave his attention and have never had a hickey. For the longest time I thought it was my not being pretty enough. Please help.” (Radically shortened and corrected)

Please read Roberta M. Gilbert’s Extraordinary Relationships. Also, although it probably has nothing to do with the lack of kissing between you and your husband, get your whole family appointments with a dentist.