Archive for April, 2021

April 27, 2021

The Every-Parent’s challenge

by Rod Smith

I am a parent, sometimes father, sometimes mother, often both at once. I am not a detective or a policeman. My children need a parent not a live-in larger-than-life law-enforcement officer. I’m a parent, protector, provider, encourager, and guide.

I am a person who is also a parent. Parenting is a role I am more than willing to play. It is very much part of who I am but it does not define me. I have interests, passions, parts of my life that do not necessarily include my children. I love my children enough to maintain strong friendships that pre-exist being a parent. 

I am a parent but I’m also a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, and a friend to many. I love my children enough to keep them out of every nook and cranny of my life and I love them enough to stay out of every nook and cranny of their lives. 

I am an adult. The best way I can hope my children will become successful adults is if I am one. I cannot legitimately expect my children to become better at anything than I am unless I’m willing to lead the way. My challenge is to be the adult I hope my children will become.

April 26, 2021

What kind of day will you have?

by Rod Smith

Will anger overwhelm you, or will gentleness and kindness and peace be your guide?

Plan ahead.

These things can be planned.

Will bitterness and resentment blind you, or will goodness and forgiveness for others light your path?

Plan ahead.

You can decide now, before you head out the door.

Will randomness lead you to nowhere in particular, or will it be a day you move nearer to achieving your long term goals?

Plan ahead.

All you need to plan is a pencil and paper.

Planning ahead will not remove all excitement and joy from your day. It’s more likely to increase both. Decide who you will be today before circumstances dictate who you will be.

When, and if, you take care of destructive and overwhelming emotions, as far as you are humanly able, and you move purposefully into your day, you will set in motion the possibility of creative and joyful “interruptions.”

A day packed with inner turmoil, crowded with survival mechanisms, is unlikely to welcome unplanned joy from any helpful source.

I urge us to take our rightful places in the driver’s seats of our lives. No permission is required. My life, my responsibility. Your life, your responsibility.

April 22, 2021

Beautiful things we can do for our children of all ages

by Rod Smith
  • As much as you are able, live a full, complete life. Our children enjoy seeing us fulfilled. When we are not there is an unspoken pressure that somehow they are responsible for making it right.
  • Offer freedom, space, room to grow. This is tough because we really don’t want our children to hurt. It’s likely your sons and daughters will be as willing to learn from you as you were to learn from your parents.
  • Give privacy, offer trust. How much you trust is up to you. How much privacy you afford is up to you. It is not up to what they may or may not deserve.
  • Love, welcome their friends even if their friends do not embody your values. Rejecting their friends can lead to greater issues than welcoming them.
  • Allow, even encourage, your children to correct you. Welcome their insights into what you can do better. We all have a lot to learn and teach.
  • Free them from the impossible burden of having to “complete” you. Complete yourself so they are relieved of the pressure.
  • Listen to what they will not or cannot say. Be sure it is not your own voice you are hearing. I have often thought I had heard my sons when I was really encountering my own unaddressed issues.
April 18, 2021

Before you head off to bed tonight……

by Rod Smith

Sometime today…….*

• Reach out and make a new acquaintance. Look for the possibility of finding a new friend. It will take a moment of courage and potentially offer you a joyful return.

• Drop a note in traditional mail to someone who is not expecting to hear from you. Recall a wonderful and shared memory. It will take a moment of effort and offer you unexpected joy.

• Reach within, see what relationship-repair you may need to offer anyone in your circle of family and friends. Get to work. Do your part in facilitating healing and reconciliation. The stronger person usually is the first to initiate.

• Repeatedly resist all urges to strong-arm others, exercise power, or get your way. You will be amazed at how relieving it is to know life will go on, you will be loved, you will be included without having to make it all happen.

• If you are really discontent in your relationships or career take some time to assess what it will take from you to find the relief and make the changes you think you want. No matter how radical the shift or necessary the change, it is possible to do it all with love and kindness and respect.

* All five embraced here. If I hit one or three – and spread them out over a few days – I’ll consider it a success.

April 15, 2021

How to spot a good person

by Rod Smith

It’s quite easy to tell who you are dealing with if you know what to look for.

Good people clean up after themselves. They tip well, open doors for others, hold back on expressing their opinions until they have heard all sides. 

They are kind to people who can do little or nothing for them. They don’t try to impress people with their wealth or accomplishments. 

Good people respect the elderly, and say please and thank you a lot. They respect experience. They listen a little more than they speak. You don’t hear them calling others idiots unless there is real and objective evidence for it and even then they are quite guarded about it. 

Good people connect with others much more than they cut people off. They don’t have a relationship scrap yard. They give others the benefit of the doubt. Rumors stop with them. 

A real clue to trustworthy people is how they treat immediate and extended family. A man who speaks poorly to his elderly mother is probably quite brutal to lots of people even if he tries to hide it. 

That’s the odd thing about us. 

We leave clues about who we are all the time and believe me, I don’t always like the tracks I leave.

April 14, 2021

Driving While Black

by Rod Smith

For my sons and your sons and daughters……… required more in some locations than in others.

Driving While Black

Coaching my son about being stopped by a police officer has been among the saddest and hardest conversations we’ve had to have. Share, correct, help….. I’m always (I hope) open to learning:

It has been my observation that people drive as they live.

Fundamental 1:

As the driver you are in charge of the vehicle. This is very important. When I am your passenger I am a passenger. Even though I am your dad and even though I’ve been driving for over 40 years YOU are in charge of the car. The car and all that happens in it is your responsibility when you are the driver. Let your friends who may be riding with you know this if it is necessary. Usually it is not.

Fundamental 2:

If you are calm and you take care of yourself and you have a good attitude about life in general, your driving will not appear erratic or rushed or aggressive and you won’t attract undue attention. If you are ducking and diving in life you will be rushing, weaving in and out of traffic, showing off behind the wheel.

People drive as they live.

If you are erratic in life you will be erratic as a driver and you will attract the kind of attention that will get you stopped.

Drive to get places. That is all. Do not drive to express anger, get even, or to show off. This kind of driving is dangerous and it is this kind of driving that attracts attention. It’s the kind of driving that will get you pulled over.

Fundamental 3:

As an African American young man your chances of being pulled over for little or no reason by the police are higher than they are if you were Caucasian and if you were Caucasian and older.

This is a sad reality in the Midwest and this is the reason we have had so many discussions about it.

Keep this in mind – it will be worse in some areas of the city and the state and you already have had some experience of this sad reality at your young ages. Remember when you went driving with a close friend of ours and when we went shopping for skateboard wheels.

Let’s move on….

If you see flashing lights, hear sirens, or see any emergency vehicle (police, fire truck, or ambulance) traveling in any direction, do everything within your power to pull over to the right as safely and as efficiently as possible.

Join the traffic once the vehicles have passed and are closer to their emergency.

If indeed the siren and the lights were coming after you, just as soon as you are aware that it is you who is being stopped, do everything possible to stop as quickly and as safely as possible.

No exceptions. No exceptions.

From the very second you are aware it is you who is being stopped, you are to do nothing but implement a safe stop as efficiently and as safely as possible.

Stop the car.


Take a deep breath.



Do not open the car door or make any sudden movements.

Open the driver-side car window. Put any music off. Place your hands at “10 and 2” on the steering wheel.

If you have passengers they are to be still and quiet. No jokes, no banter.

Remember, you are in charge of the vehicle.

Greet the officer with a polite and calm voice, making eye contact if it is possible. It is usually not.

Try to establish the mood or the attitude of the officer and do not match it if it is in any manner brusque or aggressive. Things will escalate very quickly if you are terse in return with a terse officer.

Here is a good opportunity to exercise the “opposite spirit” – ONLY if the officer is being unkind or yelling or brusque in any manner.

It is your job to be quiet and polite and kind NO MATTER WHAT.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction and so DO NOT be combative in any manner, even if the officer is.

You both know several local officers very well and they know you well. In every case and without exception, they are very decent and wonderful men. I am sure the women are too, we just don’t know any personally.

The officer who may pull you over is just as likely to be a very good person. He or she is probably a parent and a loving partner and also wants to get home safely.

Once you have been pulled over it is likely the officer will ask you for three things: your driver’s license, your proof of insurance, and proof of the car’s registration – and you will routinely know exactly where all three are in your car and you will request permission to retrieve them.

Tell the officer where they are in the vehicle and that you’d be happy to get them from the glove compartment.


Once you have handed over your papers it is likely that the officer will go back to his or her vehicle and “run” your information through the on-board computer and return with your documents.

He or she will probably tell you at this point why you have been pulled over and will either give you a ticket or let you go.

Be very polite either way. No banter, no arguing.

It is very important that you remain respectful and kind and obedient and that you follow all instructions without question.

When the encounter terminates and you are permitted to go, thank the officer if things have gone in your favor or not.

Drive away safely from the scene and come home.

April 4, 2021

In your nation and mine

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Monday

All over your nation and mine teachers will get up this morning and head to schools and universities to guide students of all ages into the beauty and adventures of learning. A child will tie a shoelace and delight a parent, or turn a phrase and delight a reader, solve a math problem and delight a teacher, or play an instrument and thrill a crowd.

In your nation and mine hundreds of millions of people will respect, honor, treasure, people of all races and persuasions. They will not return evil for evil. They will reach across political aisles and barriers and respect those who believe differently, think differently, and love differently than they do. People will engage in meaningful work, serve others, and pick up after themselves.

In our great nations moms and dads will love their children, aunts and uncles will spoil their nephews and nieces, and grandparents will longingly hope for a phone call from a grandchild or son or daughter and they will be thrilled to the core when it arrives.

In your nation and mine millions of boys and girls will watch honorable sports stars in the hopes of someday being one.

Very, very, few people today will ruin life for others in your nation and mine.

Let’s be among the millions upon millions who will do really good things today and seldom, if ever, make the news.