Archive for August, 2017

August 15, 2017

Are you a candidate for some good family systems reading?

by Rod Smith

“I have read your work for a long time and even find myself thinking with some of your terminology. I am ‘trapped’ or ‘triangle-d’ with my adult son and two daughters. Serving one means alienating the others. I have to watch my every step and filter every word. It’s like they are constantly trying to prove that I am more involved with one than the other – but they have very different life circumstances. Please help.”

It sounds like your adult sons and daughters are waiting to hear a strong word from you about who owns your time and your efforts. I’d suggest you take back your power and hold onto your own power rather than place it in their hands.

Thanks for the compliment inherent in the fact that you have read my work for a long time. The terminology to which you refer is not originally mine. I detect that you and many readers are great candidates for several books on Family Systems Theory. This is where my own training lies.

Immerse yourself in “Extraordinary Relationships,” “Extraordinary Leadership,” “The Cornerstone Principle” and “The Eight Core Concepts of Bowen Theory.” All of these titles are by Roberta Gilbert and all are worthy of study.

August 13, 2017

Mind your own business

by Rod Smith

Telling someone to “mind your own business” may come off as rude or uncaring. Neither is my intention. As always, whatever I write I know doubly applies to me.

Getting immersed in other people’s business, while it may offer feelings of comfort and provide and sense of importance, it is a fail-proof track to burnout.

It’s a seemingly acceptably way, as it can appear caring, to avoid your own business. Minding the business of others can offer protection from facing your own responsibilities.

So what is your (my) business (the listed order here is unimportant)?

  • The state of your immediate relationships
  • The condition of faith and your place in a community or faith
  • Your finances, your daily work, everything pertaining to house and home
  • Your children’s welfare, safety, and education while they are children
  • Your health, physical, emotional, and psychological – with the understanding that they are all inextricably connected
  • The greater good of your immediate and broad community.

So what is none of our (my) business?

  • Adult relationships where you are not one of the parties
  • The manner in which other families parent – until there is neglect or laws are broken
  • Organizational complexities (schools, churches, businesses) where you do not hold an official role or responsibility.



August 9, 2017

Co-parenting is not for the immature

by Rod Smith

I consider these are reasonable guidelines for children whose parents are divorced. You, of course, may think differently. These principles will assume the parents (all of them – step, cohabitants, exes) are mature and have the highest interest for the whole family and then for each child:

  • All the adults who parent the children meet regularly to discuss important matters pertaining to the children: education, schedules, holidays, gifts, discipline, values, and up and coming celebrations.
  • Court orders form the basis of procedures and decisions. Meetings may occur monthly or quarterly. Responsibility for scheduling the meetings shifts between mother and father. Volatile families may find meeting in a public place helpful.
  • All the adults trust all the adults to seek the highest interests of the children. All the adults respect the time and sanctity of the relationship the children have with the “other” family – and leave them alone during that time.
  • Parents attend as many school events and school and club sports events and practices as possible – no matter whose week or weekend it is. Absences are not interpreted as a lack of interest or lack of love but rather as a function or filtered hierarchy or priorities. Some things are more important than cricket practice.

I am fully aware of the enormity of this challenge. Parenting was never for the immature anyway.

August 5, 2017

It’s about who you spend time with…..

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Wednesday / High-functioning people….

Regular relating to high-functioning people (intimate of casual):

Will give you the lasting impression that life is an exciting adventure, filled with wonderful, endless possibilities

Will give you the impression that questions are more important than answers and that ambiguity is an ally and not a foe

Will leave you feeling empowered and encouraged and that if you apply yourself you can do about anything you can dream of doing and go anywhere on the planet that you’d like

Will leave you with the desire to read and discover more about areas of interest you did not even perhaps know you have

Will inspire you to become engaged in your own life at least as deeply as they are engaged in theirs

Will engage you in skillful humor that has no victims.

August 4, 2017

Differentiation of Self

by Rod Smith

Not to differentiate is to fuse or to be enmeshed (the failure to become a fully separate person) and is evidenced by the propensity to place responsibility on others (or on situations, predicaments, and hurdles) for the way in which our lives develop. To differentiate is to provide a platform for maximum growth and personal development for everyone in your circle of influence.

Differentiation is described in many ways in the following points:

  • Growing in the ability to see where and how I fit into my family, the position I hold and the power that is, and is not, given to that position.
  • Growing in the ability to be fully responsible for my own life, while, at one and the same time, also being actively growing closer to those whom I love.
  • Intentionally, and simultaneously, developing increased autonomy and deeper intimacy. Autonomy: I move toward achieving my dreams and ambitions. Intimacy: I authentically and appropriately reveal who I am to those whom I love.
  • Clearly defining who I am and who I want to be while understanding the natural tendency that exists for others to try and tell me who I am and who and what I should be.
  • Staying in touch with others while, and even though, there is tension and disagreement.
  • Being able to declare clearly what I need and being able to request help from others without foisting or imposing my needs upon them.
  • Being able to understand what personal needs can and cannot be met both in my own life and in the lives of others.
  • Understanding that I am called to be distinct (separate) from others, without being distant or cut off from others.
  • Understanding that I am responsible to others but that I am not responsible for others.
August 3, 2017

In The White Water: Principles of Functioning

by Rod Smith

Presented by Bob Hunter

Focus on your own functioning: Don’t let the crisis become the axis around which your world revolves.
Develop a support system outside of the work system: professional helpers, family, and friends.
Stay focused on long-term goals.
Deep breathing  - Prayer  -  Meditation: (And CYCLING!!)
Listen to your body.
Watch the triangles.  

The “molecules of human relationship”

The person in the “responsibility position” ends up with the stress.
Work out a balance between being responsible for self and being [labeled] obstreperous.  (“Not a team player”)
Keep the system loose through humor.
It’s time to make decisions when the same question brings no new information.
Accept the possibility that one’s own functioning brought it on, which means that one may be able to influence one’s recuperation.
A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, by Edwin Friedman; p. 302

August 3, 2017

The weekend…..

by Rod Smith

With the weekend quickly dawning and one which will involve a lot of travel for me (I will be going home having spent the week teaching in Switzerland) I thought I’d invite you to the challenges I will set, in writing, for myself for the following few days. Perhaps you will embrace them, too:
·       I will work at being and becoming the most generous person I know.
·       Similarly, I will work at being and becoming the most forgiving person I know.
·       I will consistently reduce the amount of effort, care, and attention I need from others and thus hopefully earn a reputation for being “low-maintenance.” 
·       I will look for adventure in changes, especially those that are neither anticipated nor desired and over those with which I have neither authority nor control.
·       I will be as clear as possible about who I am and what I want so that the need for guessing and anticipation is reduced for those who interact with me.
·       I will look for opportunities to give and receive love, especially where both giving it and receiving it may be least expected.
·       I will govern myself well so that I may be proud of my self-handling and the handing of others as both pertain to my roles and responsibilities.     

August 2, 2017


by Rod Smith

A boundary is a line (usually invisible – prison would be an example of a visible boundary) that separates a person from all other people.

Each person is responsible for his or her own boundaries.

Here are indications of poorly defined boundaries:

  • Sharing intimately on a first meeting.
  • Falling in love with anyone who reaches out.
  • Being preoccupied with someone.
  • Going against what you know is right to please someone.
  • Hoping someone you meet will have poor boundaries.
  • Trusting blindly with matters of significance.
  • Accepting food, gifts, touch, or sex you do not want.
  • Taking as much as you can get for the sake of getting.
  • Giving as much as you can give for the sake of giving.
  • Letting someone be in charge of your life.
  • Allowing someone else to say what you feel and see.
  • Believing someone can and should anticipate your needs.
  • Being moody and withdrawn because you are not getting enough attention.
  • Expecting people to read your mind and know what you want or need.
  • Habitually stealing the agenda, taking center stage, occupying the spotlight.
  • Falling apart to get care.
  • Eating for destructive reasons or with destructive results.
  • Sex for pain or to express aggression.

Cloud and Townsend book “Boundaries” is essential reading on this topic.

The above list is collated from a variety of sources and over so many years and from so many places. I’d love to acknowledge all the sources and would if I had them.