Archive for ‘Adolescence’

July 26, 2015

Driving lessons

by Rod Smith

Driving lessons for my boys – tomorrow I will handle being pulled over by the police or DWB:

It is helpful to think of every other driver as drunk, unpredictable, and crazy. This approach kept my father accident-free for more than 50 years (although it is unsure how many he caused). This attitude will keep you alert and will go a long way to securing your safety and the safety of others.

Never ride in a car with anyone who is under the influence of alcohol or any legal or illegal substance or substances even if this person is not the operator – and I don’t care if it is your favorite aunt.

It’s not your job to transport drunk or drugged people.

Don’t drive any vehicle, not even a golf cart or ride a skateboard or bounce on a pogo stick, for goodness sake, if you have consumed anything that distorts, or potentially distorts, your judgment.

If you have been drinking or even if you feel you have been out too late, call me, use a taxi or Uber. I will NEVER refuse your call for help.

Don’t compromise your safety – even if it a very short ride in a very safe car in a very safe suburb.

Cars are dangerous missile in the hands of sane, experienced drivers, and the danger quotient radically spikes in the shaky hands of anyone under the influence of anything – even anger.

Treat cars and the privilege of driving (it’s not a right) with great respect.

If, from the minute you may legally drive and for at least the first five years, you never enter a car without humbly bowing for three to five minutes at the hood (bonnet), and then for three to five minutes at the trunk (boot) in quiet, humble reverence, with your hands folded in a typical stance of a person at prayer, you might develop the necessary awe cars and driving deserve.

Cars are like pulpits. They should be entered into in a spirit of humility and avoided by the proud, the angry, and blowhards.

Driving is for getting from A to B. That is it. It’s not for the music, or texting, or eating, or watching movies.

The journey is not the party.

Don’t make car ride into a party – there’s no quicker access to an ambulance.

December 22, 2014

Not like other children at Christmas….

by Rod Smith

Perhaps I was not like other children and the differences I experienced were as profound as they felt.

Perhaps not.

Perhaps all that separated me from what I perceived was the experience of other children was amplified in my young heart.

You know, you know how children are said to amplify things.

Who can tell these many years later?

But the things I wanted for Christmas when I was very young, and I mean as young as 7 and 8 and up until I was 10 and 11, required no batteries or remote devices or charging.

I wanted safe adults. I wanted adults whom I could trust. I wanted them sober. I wanted them sober all the time, not just in the mornings.

I wanted my dad to be as sober as my mother always was.

I wanted a peaceful home.

I wanted to live in a house where people didn’t live on the edge of financial ruin and where the anxiety over lack of resources was not repeatedly temporarily eased by very excessive drinking.

You can think I am exaggerating if you want. I’m not.

I did get it – I got all I wanted for Christmas when I was 12.

Dad stopped drinking.

Forever.

July 17, 2012

The joy of our humanity

by Rod Smith

Is found in our connection with others (a connection sufficiently powerful so that we are not alone) and can therefore give and receive strength to and from each other. It is yet separate enough so that we not drain each other of the adventure of being unique and distinct beings. This is one of the greatest blessings accompanying our humanity and, when it fails, it becomes the source of exceedingly powerful pain.

July 1, 2011

Achieving MUCH with YOUR life is a profound act of mothering

by Rod Smith

1. Enriched is the woman who does not lose herself to her marriage or motherhood. She has a strong spirit of independence while being a loving wife and mother.

2. Enriched is the woman who does not accommodate poor manners (being taken for granted or being victimized) from anyone (not husband, children, in-laws, siblings, or her parents).

3. Enriched is the woman who lives above manipulation, domination, and intimidation. Her relationships are pure and open; her boundaries are defined, secure, and strong.

4. Enriched is the woman who does not participate in unwanted sexual activity. She honors her body as her private temple and shares it, even in marriage, only by her own deliberate choice.

5. Enriched is the woman who has developed a strong, clear, identity. She regularly articulates who she is, what she wants, and what she will and will not do. She is unafraid of defining herself.

6. Enriched is the woman who knows that pursuing her dreams to be educated, to work, to accomplish much, to expect much from her life, are profound acts of partnership in marriage and profound acts of mothering. She knows that the woman who “takes up her life” does more for herself, her husband, and her children than the one who surrenders it.

June 26, 2011

Essential topics for talks with children……

by Rod Smith

Thulani, Nathanael, Max, and me

Important conversations do not need to be “serious” conversations. Thulani and I talked about my death. I had the distinct impression that although it is a tough concept for him to embrace, he’s rather have had the conversation that not have had it. I told him that he’d bring me most honor and joy through going forward (from my death) to live his own life as powerfully and meaningfully as possible.

Here are the broad topics I believe to be essential

Grief and death

Handled gently, death and grief can become a part of any parent-child conversation. Talking about death and dying does not need to be scary or even sad – and talking about it does not cause it.

Sex and intimacy

Helpful conversations about sex and intimacy do not need to be a “big talk” but an ongoing dialogue. Let your child learn about the joys and beauty of sex from you, the parent, not from a school or “program.”

Space and boundaries

Teach your child where he or she begins and ends – what is and is not his or her responsibility. Teach him or her to responsible to others and not for others.

Money and debt

Showing children how investments grow can become a powerful incentive for a child to save. Pointing out the folly of the misuse of credit cards and how debt can radically accumulate is a lesson every child ought to learn.

Planning a great future

It’s a cliché, but if you aim at nothing it is likely you will get it every time. It is a gift to any child to teach him or her to plan a powerful future.

June 14, 2011

Children in a tug-of-war

by Rod Smith

“My son and his wife are in a constant battle with his ex-wife and her family. They want the grandchildren ALL the time and seem to never think of their new family as really part of the children. I hardly know my new step-grandchildren but I’d rather that than step into the middle of the battle for time with the children. Should I be working harder to get to know these children so they will know me one day or should I just let things be as they are for now?”

It's a fine line......

If there are already tensions regarding who the children ought to know and visit then I’d suggest you follow your intuition which suggest you remain out of the tug-of-war.

Children will readily pick up on surrounding stresses and tensions and will ultimately use them to their benefit – and not necessarily to the benefit of the adults who use the children as bargaining chips.

Stay out of conflicts that do not directly involve you. Your daughter and her husband are presumably adult enough to represent themselves in their own battles.

May 15, 2011

Therapy (counseling, family therapy, individual therapy) works best when…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Take UP your life - it is an act of LOVE

1. It is self-initiated and no one is “sending” you to therapy.

2. You are motivated to see change in your life and understand that it could mean an increase in your discomfort and some disruption to your relationships.

3. You are willing to recognize your sacred cows even if you are initially unwilling to lead them to the slaughterhouse.

4. You read widely about ordinary people who have done extraordinary things with their lives.

5. You are willing to see the fruitlessness of blaming others (parents, boss, your ex, the economy, and politicians) for what you are facing.

6. You are willing to shift your focus off the behavior of others and be fully responsible for your own behavior.

7. You are willing to understand that others can only entangle (trap, manipulate, bother) you to the degree you allow.

8. You understand your therapist is a person just like you – but for his or her training. Elevating your therapist will prove to be unhelpful to you and it will obstruct the very process you wish to assist you.

9. You understand that all desired and healthy growth requires some loss, pain, and grief.

10. Your goal is to grow up and to fully live your own life – no matter what your age.

May 1, 2011

I want you to speak to my group…..

by Rod Smith

I want you to speak to my group (church, school, class, retreat, company) how do I do it?

Sometimes I bring the boys, sometimes I don't.

You contact me by email (Rod@DifficultRelationships.com) and we (you and I) begin the process of finding out what you want, if I am available, and what would best serve you and your intended audience.

I do not arrive and “dump” my routine on you or try to sell you or your audience anything. I tailor every event to the perceived needs of the church, group, company, or training event.

I look forward to hearing from you. I have lectured an taught in over 30 countries to groups from 5 people to 5000. I can speak for 40 minutes or for 10 days at 6 hours a day.

My seminars (workshops) are highly interactive and usually result in participants wanting to live more powerful and complete lives.

Write to me. I look forward to hearing from you. Yes – I will travel anywhere in the world, or drive to your event if it is possible.

Rod Smith

May 1, 2011

Is it okay to hate my mother

by Rod Smith

Is it okay to hate my mother? She is loud, inappropriate, pushy, and demanding. I know I can’t change her but I must be able to change how guilty I feel about not being happy to see her. She barges into our house. She talks crudely to my children. She is mocking of any attempts to talk on any meaningful level. I am a single mother of two teenagers.

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Hate is an emotional toxic spill

As an adult you can do anything you want. You may break the law, set your house on fire, and even abandon your children.

As long as you are able and willing to face the consequences, you can do anything you want.

Of course, not everything you are able to do is helpful, wise, or accompanied by helpful outcomes. This is something we are repeatedly told as children and sometimes fail to learn even as adults.

So – yes, you are free to hate your mother. The consequences of doing so are unlikely to be helpful to you. Hating anyone is usually harmful to the one who does the hating, but hating a parent, is especially personally damaging.

Hating a parent erodes essential, vital, invisible connections that help us all to remain somewhat sane.

Hating anyone allows the hate to do a number on our insides. It distorts our responses, reactions, perceptions, and attitudes to ALL other people, and not only our relationship with the person whom we have chosen to hate.

The hate may be targeted; the results are generic. Hate is an emotional toxic spill. It ruins the host more than the victim.

While your mother’s repertoire is jam packed with unattractive themes, hating her will ultimately destroy you, burn your house down (figuratively, of course) and alienate you from your own adult children.

You will move toward greater, and real love for her if you increase your capacity to be rejected by her and stand up to her and refuse to be her victim. Do not give your mother free passage to pollute your family yet, at the same time, offer her some manner in which to remain connected with you on terms that are acceptable to you.

Yes, hate is an option, but it is not an option that will result in the kind of growth (not all “growth” is helpful) within you that will be helpful.

Walking powerfully toward her (initiating, defining, declaring, welcoming, clarifying) will empower you with ALL other people.

You are no longer a child. Use your adult voice and do not allow her to manipulate, dominate, or intimidate you. Strive for an equal, mutual, respectful relationship with your mother so that she will learn how to behave herself when she is with you and your family.

I know this is a tall order, but the results, of even failed attempts on your terms, will result in the kind of empowering and growth you want, rather than lead you ever deeper into the shame you are already feeling.

Rejecting her will diminish you. It will rob you of your voice. It will enlarge her power to dominate and control you.

If you hate your mother she won’t have to barge into your house to upset you, she’ll be living in your head, even if you never see her or have nothing to do with her.

April 25, 2011

Children and happiness

by Rod Smith

“I see my first responsibility, as a parent, is to make my children have a happy childhood so they can have a happy life. Please comment.”

Good luck. While it is a nice ideal you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Your children’s happiness is ultimately their responsibility and not yours. The sooner they assume it the better.

If you, the parent, work hard at your own life and make the very best of your skills and talents it is more likely that you will have children who will do the same.

If you focus all of your attention on your children and on trying to make them happy it is likely you will create insatiable, demanding, and entitled men and women who are more than a challenge to all who know them.

Of course I am not suggesting parents ought to intentionally create tough lives in order to amplify challenge – this would be ridiculous.

I’d suggest you focus on providing a loving and challenging platform for your children to achieve well in all areas of their lives and get out of their way as much as possible.

Success, and reaching for success, is what results in fulfillment. I’d take “fulfillment” or “useful” or “purposeful” over the illusive state called “happiness” anytime.