Archive for January, 2018

January 23, 2018

Free gifts we can all offer….

by Rod Smith

Free gifts we can give to everyone we encounter – intimate or casual:

We can give each other room to move, freedom, space, permission to be different, and separate. No permission is required given that all people are already free. It seems some do not know it or believe it.

We can offer each other a positive attitude, a can-do spirit, an approach to problems and requests with a cooperative, and creative drive. We have all had the draining experience of legitimate requests meeting automatic resistance.

We can give each other the benefit of the doubt, the stance that assumes no malice when things don’t run according to plan. An air of suspicion can kill any relationship, casual or intimate.

We can offer each other a listening ear before leaping to conclusions. It’s discouraging to talk to someone who is not listening or who has decided he or she already knows what you want to say.

We can offer each other hospitality, a welcome, a metaphorical or even a literal embrace, an attitude that says “you are welcome in my life for this moment and I am glad you are here.”

January 21, 2018

Mother-daughter connection

by Rod Smith

“My daughter (12) is almost overnight asking me questions about my past and my habits – and the truth is very painful for me. I know I can’t tell her everything but I am more interested in why the sudden interest. We have been very close as mother and daughter in the past. It seems to have drifted in the past year. Please offer insights.”

You are deeply linked as parent and child.

There’s a flow of awareness, of presence, of exchange, going back and forth between parents and children from before a child’s day one.

This “downloading” and “cross-pollinating” is something many parents appear unaware of or certainly don’t offer it much recognition.

It’s powerful.

I am suggesting your daughter may be aware of the pain embedded in your history as a hunch even though she may be totally unable to detect when it comes from.

Affirm her for her questions.

Tell her you have much in your history that brings you both joy and pain and that when you are ready to let her in you will.

Not all questions have to be answered and not all information is her business.

She is a child.

Your daughter is growing into an aware woman – encourage her in her journey.

Perhaps this is the end of “the drift.”

January 18, 2018

Yes, No: teaching both….

by Rod Smith
Teaching children “yes” and “no” is, in my mind, as important as teaching a child how to read, write, and to count.

I want my sons, according to their respective ages, to…

  • Say YES to opportunities even if they involve risk or if they involve venturing into the unknown, learning new things, and breaking unhelpful habits.
  • I want them to say YES especially if the opportunities involve meeting new people and people other than those with whom they’d usually mix.
  • Say YES to opportunities to travel, to serve, and to build and to assist in mending broken places.
  • Say YES to reading new ideas and to writing responses to them.
  • Say YES when they encounter opportunities to offer hospitality.
  • Say NO to toxic secrets, to behavior that judges or excludes others.
  • Say NO to religious teachings that limit their capacities for generosity and for freedom.
  • Say NO to anything that will potentially delay their formal education no matter how appealing or adventurous the idea may be.
  • Say NO to those who disrespect them or encourage them to treat the adults around them with anything less than utmost respect and close-to-perfectly good manners.
  • Say NO to those who dismiss their ideas and who treat them as a means toward their disclosed or undisclosed ends.
January 18, 2018

What teachers want…..

by Rod Smith

With the opening of the new school year

Things to know about your teachers

Your teachers are on your side even if it feels otherwise. People enter the profession to support, not oppose, students

Teachers want completed work to reflect commitment, love, and care.

Teachers want things done on time. Their deadlines are carefully considered and are often designed around giving you’re the optimum time to get things done well with love and care. If you treat your teachers’ assignments as a priority and do more than you are asked you will be amazed at how much everything about your school experience will improve. Not only will your marks improve; your good reputation will open unexpected doors for you.

Good teachers know that wasted time is exactly that and cannot be recovered. Be an asset to your teacher by behaving well and using classroom time well.

Fine teachers are more invested in you understanding material than they are in expecting you to meet the exact demands of an assignment. Successfully using a formula without understanding it is almost useless. Get to know what’s behind the formula. Counting words to meet the minimum requirement of a written exercise indicates that you want to get the assignment completed more than you want to write well.

January 17, 2018


by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Wednesday

The Genius of Powerful Leadership

• Is not that you, the leader, gets your way. It is that those whom you lead discover their own skills, talents, and beauty and, as a result of your style, they are willing to apply their cache of potential to your mutually declared goals.

• Is not that you, the leader, are recognized. It is that those whom you lead are empowered and sufficiently “free” to make their own mark on your mutually declared goals and are positioned to receive appropriate credit.

• Is not that you, the leader, are the one with all the brilliant ideas. It is that you have created a context where the development and exchange of ideas is a way of life and your shared brilliance becomes difficult to pin on one lone genius or a singular heroic leader.

• Is not that you, the appointed or official leader, lead at everything. You understand that your ability to lead meshes with your ability to follow. You get out of the way, you assist, you encourage those who are better equipped at any task to assume the awe-filled position of leader when it is necessary.

• It is that you, the leader, know that how you handle yourself is pivotal, and far more important to your success than how you handle your charges.

January 17, 2018

Is your child a genius? If so……

by Rod Smith

It has struck me time and again how the genius within some of the children and youth I encounter will probably never be unearthed. So much is done for them, so much is given to them, so much focussed parenting, there’s no hunger (I don’t mean food) to be satisfied. If you want your child to discover and develop and use his or her latent genius you may want to:

  • Stop solving every issue that comes his way for him. Lasting lessons are learned and skills are developed when children have real problems to solve.
  • Allow “clean pain” – the kind that comes with growing up, making mistakes, and trying new things.
  • Get out of the way so she can really explore new territories of thought and experience. It’s very likely your daughter will go “beyond” you and the earlier it starts, the better. Provide the platform; allow her to write the script.
  • Allow him to be as different and unusual as he wants. “Well-balanced” and well-rounded” people who “fit in” are very unlikely to do great things or at least discover new things. If you see your son being “sharp-edged” and investing a lot of time in a singular area of interest you may have a budding genius on your hands.


January 15, 2018

This arrived over the weekend….

by Rod Smith

“Today is the 1st anniversary of discovering that my lady friend had been having an affair over the previous month with a fast-talking operator who is half my age. She told me it was over, a mere a flash in the pan for which she felt neither remorse nor regret.

“The revelation was devastating and reduced me to an emotional wreck. Over the next two months I was almost suicidal and had to seek professional help. I still loved her; I attempted to recover with the assistance of a therapist and researched depression and heartbreak. I lurched from one temporary separation to the next but was always so pleased to reconcile that it seemed the hurt was receding. That was until the next crisis surfaced.

“Then I read your column on forgiveness and experienced a wonderful epiphany. Suddenly I realized that I was punishing myself for actions for which I was not responsible. A huge cloud lifted and healing began. Today, a year later, I have absolutely no painful memories of the incident, feel rejuvenated and bear no resentments.

Thank you so much for your advice.”


January 14, 2018

Brave Parents

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Wednesday

The points of a Brave Parent

Please join me in reading this to your children…. / kindly add your own to the list….

When I say I love you, despite my many failings, I want you to know what I really mean:

1. I will seek your highest good even if it causes you necessary pain.

2. I will do all I can to encourage you in pursuing your God-given freedoms.

3. I will treasure your gifts, skills, aspirations, and get out of your way so you may achieve them.

4. I will get “in your face” and in your way if it appears you are willing to waste your potential.

5. I will support your desire for education and apply my efforts to help you secure it.

6. I will unconditionally love your friends as if they were treasured family.

7. I will resist any semblance of laziness I detect within you and offer it no cooperation at all.

8. I will try not to over-protect you and therefore suggest you are incapable of being without me.

9. I will try not to under-protect you and therefore leave you vulnerable for challenges that, at this point in your young life, you are yet unprepared to face.

10. I will listen to you, yet constantly remind you that it is more important that you listen to me.

11. I will show you how I interact with God and invite you to participate and ask you to give thoughtful respect towards my tradition. (Wes Whitesell)

January 12, 2018

Today’s column……

by Rod Smith

January 10, 2018

When your parents tell you they will be divorcing*

by Rod Smith
  • You may not be able to think about anything because such news can be like a powerful anesthetic. Do not be surprised if you feel dizzy and your thoughts and feelings jump around inside you. This may last for a while. You will settle into the new truth about your life and new routines.
  • Your parents will probably tell you they still love you and each other. Try to believe it. This can be very confusing. Parents can often forget they are finishing something they started as adults. They’ve had lives without each other before you came along. It can feel like you are losing everything because you’ve never known life to be any other way. For you love, security, and feeling safe are all wrapped in one package. The package always included both parents. Their change shifts everything about your life.
  • Now that you’ve been told, don’t be surprised if you think you are the only one who did not know it was coming. Your world is the only one you know. This was how you thought life was supposed to be.
  • Many young people create successful lives even though their parents divorced. Decide to do the same.

*Written to 13 and 14 year old