Archive for January, 2018

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

January 10, 2018

Pocket reminders

by Rod Smith
  • Please, say please, thanks, and thank you in every interaction.
  • Make eye contact with everyone you meet.
  • Resist multitasking when you are talking to people – even if you’re talking on the phone.
  • Return calls and text messages. Don’t ignore people.
  • Apologize when an apology is necessary and don’t do it just for show.
  • Don’t drop sales people or estate agents who have helped you without announcement or explanation.
  • Be nice to all people even if you don’t get what you want from them and even if they are unpleasant to you. Your behavior always reflects on you no matter what the context.
  • Open doors for people. You are very unlikely to lose by helping someone else win.
  • Stand back – let others go ahead of you.
  • Listen very well; assume nothing; people everywhere are struggling with something or with other people. Your listening ear may become a lifeline to a total stranger.
January 9, 2018

On a personal note….

by Rod Smith

I cashed in frequent traveller awards and sent son (19) to Northern Ireland for ten days. This is third solo international trip. He handles it like the seasoned traveller he is. We’ve made it practice not to communicate much when we’re apart. I recall the tension I knew as a younger man knowing my parents were waiting to hear from me and so we shelved that expectation years ago. He knows how to find me if he needs me and I can track him in an instant if necessary.

While he has been away the weather has somewhat dictated that my younger son (15) and I spend quite a lot of time together cooped up in a snow-bound house. With the one so very close and the other so far away, I have enjoyed this brief, concentrated time.

I’ve learned:

Even cool, tall, and tough fifteen-year-old basketball players enjoy being the only young man in the house, sometimes. We haven’t talked that much, but quietness and togetherness has its own rewards.  It’s been beautiful.

The boys get what they need no matter where they are – with or without me.

“I love it here, dad, but I can’t wait to get home,” is a message he just sent from Belfast.

 The airport run tonight will be a joy. 

January 7, 2018

Music within — or not? ….. It gets in the way of hearing and loving

by Rod Smith

I have written frequently about listening as a tangible gift of love. Please ponder the following as you exercise your listening skills and grow in this love-skill:

We cannot hear others more than we are willing to hear ourselves. Until I am willing to hear from myself – which means decipher my emotional pains, discern what my daydreams may mean (if anything at all), acknowledge and de-code painful memories and secret longings, face my darker secrets – the noise within my own life will keep me from accurately hearing others.

While I refuse to, or cannot hear myself, your voice will have to compete with my discordant soundtrack.

This is why we “hear what we want to hear” and hear what is not being said. We hear what fits with our unfinished, ignored, or aching symphony. Gosh, I didn’t mean to be quite so dramatic!

It’s a fallacy to think that we have to master our own lives – or successfully expel the discordant soundtrack (to continue the metaphor) before we can really love by listening. That day is unlikely to come for any of us.

Listening to our own inner-music, allowing it to speak to us, embracing it, making peace with it, helps clear the way and empowers us to really hear others.

January 6, 2018

As School opens…..

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – with the start of school

The outstanding student:

• Reads, performs, completes assignments, beyond minimal expectations – he or she loves the work into being.

• Shows up and speaks up without being disrespectful – he or she knows that courtesy is possible under all circumstances.

• Knows that listening to those appointed to teach is one of several keys to success – he or she knows it is almost always more important to listen than it is to speak.

• Learns to connect a variety of disciplines and sees the whole – he or she respects the interrelatedness or all things.

• Understands that willing, but not blind, obedience is the beginning of leadership development – he or she knows a person learns to lead by learning to follow.

• Takes responsibility for his or her own progress and operates without blaming anyone for anything – he or she knows that hardships can be the fuel of greatness.

• Understands that there is a price to be paid for excellence – he or she knows that the rejection of peers is sometimes the cost of being outstanding.

• Engages, initiates, and is unafraid to ask thoughtful questions – he or she knows the engaged student brings joy and enthusiasm to the dedicated teacher.

• Knows that teachers are a bonus, not an essential – many educated men and women are self-educated.

• Understands that academic pursuits come first – that all else is secondary.

January 3, 2018

Control, control, control

by Rod Smith

“My husband is very controlling. He monitors my phone (‘it’s a dangerous world’) my dress (‘why would you want to attract unnecessary attention’) and where I am (‘you know how unsafe things are’) and has unreasonable expectations when it comes to intimacy (‘there must be someone else if you don’t want….’). This is suffocating me. I am finding it hard to love him with all the ‘love’ he insists on showing me. The stronger he gets the more I am repelled. I can’t say so because he becomes desperate and then physical. He will restrain me from going anywhere until we have ‘made love’ to ‘seal our relationship’ before I can leave the house.”

The above is not an actual letter. I developed it on behalf three women whom I have known and who have described these binds to me. The women are not clients. They have spoken at public events to illustrate the extent of their cooperation that leads to these degrees of toxicity in some relationships.

If you (male or female) see yourself in any one of these toxic binds, please, get the help you need.

Freedom is the hallmark of love. Jealousy is not; controlling is not.

Get free before you are “loved” to death!