Archive for July, 2015

July 16, 2015

Talking or using your Voice?

by Rod Smith

Learning to use your Voice is no simple task and ought not be confused with talking.

Many people talk an awful lot, who’ve been talking almost non-stop for years, but seldom use their voices.

Some people, very sadly, for a variety of reasons, don’t even know they have one.

All talking does not mean the speaker is using his or her voice anymore than banging on a piano always produces music.

Talking without using your voice:

• Talking because silence is painful or even unbearable
• Talking without thinking
• Saying things you’ve said countless times because the tape (CD, record) runs whether you like it or not
• Talking about things that are safe and familiar – even intimate matters – to avoid and even bury material that is aching to come out.

Using your voice:

• Addressing necessary conflict and areas of disagreement with kindness and compassion even in the event it results in discomfort in relationships
• Allowing necessary silence to promote thought and the time to allow ideas to develop
• Expressing (even sometimes with necessary caution) the things that really matter even if the potential exists to upset those whom you love.

July 14, 2015

What parents long to hear from their teenagers……

by Rod Smith

Things parents long to hear from their teenagers….

• Lets eat many meals together and talk about anything you’d like to talk about – I want to understand you and how you see things.

• Is there anything I’m missing in the way I treat you that you’d care to help me with – I want to treat others well.

• This weekend I want to stay home, get my bedroom in order, and handwrite some letters to each of my grandparents – it’s high time they heard from me.

• Could you please help me to see my blind spots – you know, the areas that others see but are perhaps to polite to mention – I want help with those in my life?

• I have decided to save as much money as possible – I see how necessary it is.

• Education is key to almost everything – I am going to get as much of it as I can get.

• When it comes to choosing a life-partner I am going to need all the help I can get – I want you fully in-the-loop when it comes to my friendships.

• Could you please take some time to help me understand your life, your childhood, and your good and not-so-good experiences – I want to learn as much as possible about you and from you?

July 13, 2015

Autonomy – a powerful and natural urge within us all

by Rod Smith

I confess.

My urge for autonomy is screaming at me – it’s bouncing off the walls of my neo-cortex.

This time I am going to succumb.

Before I get hit the details let’s be sure that this is not a new thing nor is it peculiar to me. You probably have it too.
When my sons were much younger I’d take a shower to be alone. Or, I’d close myself in downstairs if the boys were napping upstairs and pretend I was in the house alone. This did it – it met my needs for autonomy. They settled down, at least until morning.

When I could legally leave my sons at home alone I’d go to a local coffee shop with a Time magazine and pretend I was on vacation, or, I’d go to Fresh Market and meander through the tropical fruit stands and pretend I was living back in Kona.
Once I was so desperate to think an uninterrupted thought I took the boys to church then lurked (unseen) through the building to the parking lot and headed for an early lunch at PF Changs where I pretended I was in Hong Kong.

It worked.

I picked up the boys an hour or so later and felt like I’d had a sabbatical.

Anything, yes; anything – I’d do about anything to satisfy my strong urge for autonomy.

Next week is going to be an unusual week.

Nate is going to “The Great Escape” in Wisconsin. Thulani is going on a mission trip to New Orleans.

I am going to take the VW Beetle and drive to my brother California – and, wait for it, I bought myself a floppy hat so I can do it with an open sun roof!

July 11, 2015

Why do you go to so many places and what do you do there?

by Rod Smith

A handful of (newspaper) readers have asked about our travel.

The suggestion is that I am independently wealthy, perhaps a little bored:

1. I travel mostly to speak in Youth With A Mission and its affiliated University of the Nations. I try to take my sons with me. This is a volunteer organization operating in hundreds of locations. I think I’ve been to about 40. I teach classes about growing up, personal responsibility, and about the concept of Differentiation of Self. I have loved this imperfect organization since I was 17. I have tried to play my role since 1986.

2. Outside of YWAM I have developed a readership through my newspaper column (The Mercury). Consequently, I have been invited to address schools, colleges, and public groups about various matters like RACE, ADOPTION, and SINGLE-PARENTING. My newspaper audience is predominantly in South Africa although invitations have come from the UK and Eastern Europe.

3. I travel to assist individuals and groups in conflict. I help people speak and hear each other and engage in necessary and meaningful conflict. On such missions I have no agenda but to help parties articulate what they think they need.

4. I don’t use PowerPoint, I have no bells and whistles. It’s all about the process, respect, mutuality, and love. When I use the term LOVE in this context I mean seeking the highest good for all concerned.

[YES. I will come to you, your organization, your school, church or whatever. It’s all about time and availability. No destination is too far. Am I expensive? YES. It will cost you everything – and the least expensive aspects of what it costs will have to do with money.]

July 10, 2015

What we accommodate defines us…..

by Rod Smith

Allow others to speak down to you and you will begin to look down on yourself. You will begin to see yourself through their lens and even begin to agree with them.

Allow others to speak ill of you and you will begin to hide and avoid people and believe their disrespect is somehow deserved.
You will begin to carry a sense of shame that’s difficult to shed.

Allow others to lie to you (and then on top of that make excuses for them) and you will begin to fumble with what it true and what is not and soon you will be unable to tell the difference.

You will begin to question your judgment (and sanity) about the most insignificant of matters.

Firmly, kindly address those who choose to treat you poorly, knowing you will ruffle feathers (or more).

Use “I” statements. Define yourself; not others. Don’t go into detail.

People who treat others in the ways I have described – power-hungry people – love an argument. They will bully you into seeing just how wrong you are and how much you’ve misunderstood them.

Relationships are not about winning or losing and you know they that. They don’t.

Do not be afraid to walk away from ANY relationship that does not hold you in highest regard. Life is far too short and already far too difficult to have to bear the added burden of accommodating another person’s unresolved power-issues.

July 9, 2015

Attachment, bonding, connectedness…..

by Rod Smith

Attachment, bonding, connectedness – whatever your theory or label, parents, and perhaps especially parents who adopt children, hope it happens with our children and we hope it happens early and enough.

On that note, biological parents tend to think it’s “automatic.” I don’t think it is.

Anyway, I know I looked for it. I still do. Back then, when my sons were infants and they hiked all the stages of child development, I looked for signs that my sons had bonded with me, I with them, and that they (perhaps more importantly for me) bonded with each other.

Oddly it’s the attachments I have to fight and resist that expose how bonded we are. For instance, when my boys are disappointed for ANY reason, any reason at all, I feel the urge to save them from it – no matter who or what caused it – rising up in me.

When they express that they feel they have no friends or when they hear about events and they are not invited – I have to calm my inner-fierceness. It’s here, right here, where I believe we as parents can do some real damage – when our attachments to our children mess with the natural, necessary pain life sends all of our ways and does so just because we are human.