Archive for April, 2013

April 29, 2013

Letters to the young (2 of 5)

by Rod Smith
You’d be amazed at the power of politeness. By this I mean expressing genuine care and awareness of others.

Saying “please” and “thank you” and “may I help you” and “is there anything you’d like to tell me” is like dropping a drawbridge for goodness to pour in and out of your own life.

While it’s unwise to be polite simply for the return (that’s an advanced form of manipulation) genuine care and politeness will re-ignite something good in you that is tough to stop.

Asking people of all ages about their days, really taking an interest in others and in developing your manners will not only distinguish you from others who are your age, but it will give you a taste of the beauty of life that is quite astounding.

Listening, asking polite questions, following up with appropriate questions, learning the art of NOT making every conversation about you and your interests will open your heart to a world the self-centered cannot see.

Try it. Use your parents for target practice. Even if you fake it you might awaken some dormant goodness and kindness that’s been hiding beneath your possibly surly surface since you hit your teen years, and you might be more than overwhelmed at the results.


April 28, 2013

Letters to the young…..

by Rod Smith

Your parents are the most important people you will ever know.

Get things right with them, and you’ll be poised for success.

By “right” I mean embark on the ongoing journey to develop your skills by loving, honoring, enjoying, and negotiating with them.

If you don’t, if you settle for on-going conflict, you will probably spend a lifetime engaged in conflicts large and small with others, especially with those whom you love.

Your parents are the springboards for everything.

Treat them well.

Of course I am well aware that not all parents are committed to their children or deserve the kind of respect and effort I am suggesting.

In very unusual circumstances, parents have been particularly evil. This is so unusual and I’d encourage young people from such families to communicate with me directly.

Yes. Your imperfect mother and father, with all their faults and failings, are the perfect training ground for you to learn and discover almost everything you need to know about how life works.

Get what you can, while you can – in faith, in humility, and with grace.

The rewards are timeless.

April 24, 2013

I take a counter view…….

by Rod Smith

A man responds to the column of April 22, 2013 about being a stepfather…..

“You are correct. You will never replace you step children’s father. The children did not ask for the divorce or for you to be in their lives. Their mother will never put you ahead of her children, nor should she.”

I hear often that a mother will never place the new husband (in fact even the children’s father) before the children.

This is often touted as “good mothering.” While no counselor would suggest a parent ought to neglect children, there is a distinct difference between being a parent and a partner. It is a very healthy parent who exercises the difference.

There are conditions under which it is a healthy for parents to allow their primary commitment as a spouse to take priority over their commitments as a parent. Yes, you read correctly!

Just as it is a travesty to neglect a child, it is also a travesty to neglect a spouse, especially in the name of “putting the children first.”

I’ve seen parents hide behind “putting the children first” as a means to avoid the bravery required to be a full and functioning partner.

Sometimes it’s good for children to be in second, even third, or fourth place!

April 7, 2013

A week at a time……

by Rod Smith

At least for this week….

  1. Listen more than you speak. Really listen. This means you are not waiting to speak, or formulating your rebuttal, or accessing your “better story” while others are talking. The ONLY evidence of love is that you listen. Take note of the many times people “one-up” each other with stories, shift the focus onto themselves, or maneuver a conversation into their control. Don’t do any of this – at least not this week.   
  2. Tell the truth with love and compassion. Sometime this means keeping very quiet. Sometimes it means boldly speaking out. Let your words heal and encourage – at least this week. 
  3. Examine how you spend your money. Are you getting yourself deeper in debt, or closer to financial freedom, as a result of the use of how you use this money at this time? How you use every cent has the power to take you in one direction or another. Examine your spending – at least for this week.
  4. Embrace downward mobility – seek to serve rather than be served, seek to honour others rather than to be honored. Get over yourself so that you become a useful member of your community rather than trying to make it all about you – at least for this week.