Archive for December, 2020

December 7, 2020

Teach your children

by Rod Smith

Parents, please teach your children as I try to teach mine….

• There is no substitute for hard work. If you cut corners, avoid doing things well, you will probably have to pay for it in the future.

• “Please” and “thank you” are beautiful words and they should be used as often as possible.

• Don’t interrupt adults who are having a conversation – and saying “excuse me” as you interrupt doesn’t make the interruption acceptable.

• Wear clean clothes, use deodorant, and brush your teeth – do all this without having to be reminded.

• Stand up for adults when they enter a room; offer your seat to adults if all seats are taken, open doors for adults. Stand back.

• Ask politely for what you need; don’t demand what you need.

• Listen when people talk to you. Checking your phone in the middle of a face-to-face conversation is rude.

• Although you may not think it is so, your elders have a lot to teach you and you have a lot to learn.

• When you are more aware of your rights than you are aware of your responsibilities the imbalance will ultimately lead you into trouble.

• Earn more money than you spend – it’s as simple as that – or you will land yourself in trouble.

December 4, 2020


by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Saturday

It’s no secret that I am thousands of miles (kilometers in your culture) from the bulk of my readers. Nonetheless, I want you to know I love receiving your letters. I love families and the minefields that accompany family life. That may sound odd, but, yes, families and their complexities are one of my passions.

May I remind you (as I remind myself) that so much pain and conflict is avoidable with very few simple (not easy) steps are followed. Here they are, whether you’re a reader on the other side of the world – and you see my work in your paper, or if you’re getting it on the website, or FB, or if you are a face-to-face client visiting me weekly:

• Clarify expectations. Be as clear as possible with as many people as possible about what you do and don’t want. If you are unclear with your expectations you will almost always get what you don’t want. If self-assertion is tough for you, you may want to avoid meaningful relationships. Self-assertion is NOT selfish. Avoiding it may well be.

• Your family, other people, your work, your church – none of these people or things or organizations will make you happy if you are already an unhappy person. You are asking for the impossible. The Promised Land is within. Happiness and fulfillment are inside jobs – always.

• Forgiveness and generosity and grace expressed to others (all others) are healthy foundations on which to build your (my) life. Without these as a base everything else you do will be anxiety-riddled.

December 3, 2020

He wants to see his daughter

by Rod Smith

“My husband – second marriage for him and my third marriage – after three years of marriage is starting to go against something he committed to in the early days of our relationships. His adult daughter is a very controlling woman, always looking for money. He promised he’d have nothing to do with her if we got married. I have found out he is having contact with her and wants to meet his grandchildren. He has kept this secret from me – starting to be in touch with her – and I am very upset.” (Edited for brevity and clarity)

You can hold your husband to his marriage vows – the ones you exchanged at the wedding – and those alone. Asking a man to have no contact with his adult children (or grandchildren) is to ask what is “outside” of your realm of reasonable expectation. His relationship with his daughter precedes his relationship with you. In that sense it is none of your business and never will be. You married a man with a daughter. You knew that going in. While his daughter may indeed be “a very controlling woman” I trust that you will be able to see that you are trying to exercise control over matters that are beyond your reach.