Archive for ‘Single parenting’

April 30, 2017

My sister is caught up with her son

by Rod Smith

“My sister changes plans on me all the time because of her son (4). We will make a plan to meet and then it gets cancelled because the child had a tantrum. I wouldn’t think this was an issue but it has been repeated many times. This is really testing my patience. If we do meet she brings him with her when we have lunch but we cannot talk because he takes so much of her attention. It’s so bad my boyfriend won’t come with anymore. I just want one time when we can talk like it used to be. Is this too much to ask?”

It’s not too much to ask but you may never get what you are looking for.

Your sister’s relationship with her son will probably always trump her relationship with you. She’s his mother; she’s your sister. If she really is too caught up in mothering then that is not news she will probably be open to hearing from you.

Declare your wants. Do it kindly. Do it clearly. Then, understand that your sister will place what she determines as the needs of her child above the needs of her sister.

Join her; love your nephew, rather than attempt to compete with him.

March 14, 2017

I ask a woman….

by Rod Smith

I ask a woman how her life is going and she tells me about her children. She’s very forthcoming. I hear about their failures and successes and their disappointments and their accomplishments in sports.

So I ask again how she is enjoying her life and she tells me about her children’s teachers and how dedicated they are and how they go the extra mile for her sons and how much she appreciates it and how happy her sons are at school.

I persist and ask her if she has any close friends and how much time she spends with her peers and she tells me how her sons’ friendships are a little disappointing to her and that sometimes they get left off birthday party lists and how much it hurts her when that happens and how she wishes adults were more sensitive to her children.

I ask the same woman who happens to also be a wife how she is enjoying her husband and she tells me they “work together” as parents and they are almost always on the “same page.”

I press in and ask the woman if she has a life outside of being a mom and she gives me that blank look as if I have no idea what I am talking about.

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.

June 5, 2012

Affairs are seductive, they seduce you from what’s important

by Rod Smith

Extramarital affairs are very seductive. They appear to offer better, more intense passion than the marriage. Hide and seek will do this, spawning the kind of relationship we wished was possible with a spouse. It’s amazing how “attractive” someone can sound, look and feel when you add large amounts of adrenalin. The secrecy idealizes the other, not love or truth. Deception, the “ducking and diving” past family can give vitality to the stolen hour.

What is so ridiculously seductive (and hurts so badly when the truth comes out) is the belief that affair is about you. Actually, it is about who you are not. It about what you do not represent. You are not the wife or husband; the “routine.” Yours is not the other name on the mortgage, you are not one who owns the other car in the garage. You are not the one whom the children sound like when they are at their worst (and best). It’s not your beauty. It is not your charm (although you might be both beautiful and charming). It is the difference from, the contrast with, what your affair knows. In his or her boredom and selfishness, you become so very appealing in the heat of it all. It’s the contrast he or she “loves.” The secrecy, the chase, the conniving makes it all so surreal and convincing and such a turn on. It is not you. It is not he or she who has met you here in this rendezvous, but the secret itself, the fact that you will share this secret, that’s lighting your fire.

The seductive thing is that for a period of time one or both of you actually believe in the affair as if it is a real and enduring relationship, able to offer you each something you really want. For a time you will give so unreservedly, so wildly, and be sucked in by passion. Every meeting will feel like you were meant for each other and that it is a cruel world forcing you apart. The really sad thing is that even your children will feel, to you, as if they are in the way, obstacles to your freedom, hindrances to your finding true love. When you are with your lover the first hours will slip past feeling like heaven. The approaching absences and those times when you are apart, will begin to fill with suspicion, heaviness and demands that come with cheating. You will think your love is cheating on you (even when with his or her spouse) every time the cell-phone is off, a call is not returned or a weekend happens without you. The moment the clandestine activity began with you, the scene was set for it to occur around you and to you. He or she who cheats on a spouse will most certainly think nothing of doing the same to you.

The affair itself, born in secrecy and lies, itself begins to lie, making the participants believe they have been short-changed, deceived in marriage and that a fling can offer what’s really wanted. It is not so. Affairs seduce the participants from what is real, what is important, what is enduring and significant. If I cannot talk to my wife, talking with someone who is not my wife (or who is someone’s wife) doesn’t help anything one iota. Learning to talk with my wife is where the real action is, it is not in talking with some other lost person looking for a temporary shelter from her own storm.

Affairs are always a poor substitute for a relationship. No matter how intense, how willing each person is, inevitable pain and suffering lies ahead for each person in the seductive cycle. If this is your dilemma break it off today. Go cold turkey. See a professional. Change locks. Change phone numbers. Quit your job if you have to. Run home to your parents! Get out of it. No, you do not owe him or her an explanation or closure. Everyone you love, or thought you loved, will be better off for it.

Copyright 2002, Rod Smith, MSMFT

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.

May 29, 2011

A mother writes about the power of medication to help her ADHD son….

by Rod Smith

“My son at 7 seemed fine – he was articulate, self-assured, and mature beyond his years. In the classroom his frustration and anxiety would build. His preschool teacher had commented on his anxiety. His kind teacher wondered whether his hearing had been tested. By first grade he started hating himself for not being able to do what a bright boy should. When my son became more and more anxious, I knew there was an underlying cause. A developmental pediatrician congratulated me on being so astute. My son had a sub-type of ADHD. When he started medication the difference was astounding. At 3pm he’d jump into the car and actually had a spring in his step, instead of the exhausted slump. On medication, he’d jump into the car and ask how I was! Then he would animatedly chat about his day and share all the wonderful and interesting happenings of the day with me. It was astonishing. His reading rate increased by 2 years within 6 months, and then another 2 the next 6 months. My little boy was transformed from a sad, despondent, anxious little boy to a positive, enthusiastic, confident little man. Three psychologists and one GP said my son did not have ADHD but my gut feeling told me otherwise.”

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.

March 23, 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.

January 31, 2011

It really is a myth that women are the only ones who can serve as a ‘primary’ caregiver to a child…

by Rod Smith

Dear Rod Smith

I want to write this letter anonymously to protect the identify of my son.

I read your column of 26 January 2011 in The Mercury with great interest and really wish to comment.

It really is a myth that women are the only ones who can serve as a ‘primary’ caregiver to a child. Its ‘first prize’ if both parents are available and share the parenting responsibilities (even though they themselves might not be joined in a romantic or marital relationship). I am, in the same way as you, living testimony that men are totally able to provide for all the caring needs of an infant child. I reconciled with my son’s mother two days after he was born. He is not my biological son (although none of the family is aware of this) and since we took him home from the hospital, I have provided for virtually all his needs (material, emotional, developmental). His mother struggled to bond with him after his birth and with my support we worked through this period and I did my best to ensure that its effects on him are minimal. During this time, and even to now, I play the most significant parenting role in his life (and this does not mean his mom does not have a wonderful and loving relationship with him).

I believe that the myth that men are not capable or competent to nurture young children is institutionalised by views such as those expressed by the writer of the letter to you and this is as a child which leads to men being denied the opportunity to build strong and meaningful relationships with both their children and the mothers of their children. On the other hand I do feel that race can have its own dynamics, but need not necessarily be an impediment to good parenting.

Durban Dad

January 17, 2011

The most viewed column: When your husband says he doesn’t love you anymore…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

80,000 online views

Of course you are going to fall apart, and mourn the loss of the future you thought you’d have.

You will feel like death itself and even welcome your own.

Then, when your mind somewhat clears, you’ll wonder what really occurred. You will question what you might have done to cause the marriage breakdown and wonder what you might have done to save it.

Then you will bargain with God, your husband, even your children, or with anyone who will listen as you urgently try to get things back to normal, and get yourself back into his heart, head, and bed.

And, when things somewhat settle, and you’ve gotten some rest, and you emerge from the initial impact of what has occurred, you will see that this is not about you, or what you did or did not do. You will see there that there is no real power in bargaining with him, or real value in your becoming whatever you think he’d prefer you to be.

You will see that, quite apart from whatever he decides to do, there is great power and value in picking up your life, one emotion at a time, and doing what is best for yourself and your children.

(November 2006)

Tell me your story. I am listening: