September 17, 2018

How NOT to spoil a child

by Rod Smith

Have a full, meaningful life before you conceive, adopt, or foster a child. Do this so the child is unlikely to become the center of your universe and therefore have to occupy a place in your life, and have power in your life, that no child is designed or equipped to hold.

It’s not too late to develop a life outside of your child. Children who are least important to their parents’ salvation (success, reputation, happiness) are more likely to enjoy healthy adult lives than those who are faced with the unreasonable task of making their parents happy or appear successful. (Ed Friedman, Generation to Generation – liberal paraphrase)

Allow natural, reasonable consequences to occur so that your child may appreciate the power of cause and effect, as imperfect as it sometimes is.

Get out of the way as much as possible so your child learns to show up, speak up, and self-advocate as early in life as possible. Be this way especially with the school.

Try to do fewer things for your child so that your child has to do more and more for him or herself. Self-sufficiency is among the holiest of gifts you can give your child and it is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

four toddler forms circle photo

Photo by Archie Binamira on

September 13, 2018

Five ways I know my clients are getting well…..

by Rod Smith

They become more playful and have more humor about their lives and their circumstances. A degree of healthy self-deprecation enters their awareness and they resist taking themselves quite so seriously.

They have more pushback on matters and their degree of compliance lessens in every aspect of their lives. “Doormat no longer” is their motto and they address life’s issues as if they are finally in charge of themselves.

Their concern with being perceived as “nice” or “helpful” or “agreeable” diminishes in exchange for being regarded as strong and kind, deliberate and propelled by a mission. They have a reason to live and it’s not connected only to a spouse or to children or grandchildren.

They become more and more aware of how their compliance in the past has resulted in allowing people to treat them poorly, and, they put a stop to being so compliant and to accepting poor treatment from others. They are even willing to sever relationships where they are disrespected.

They begin to enjoy life more than they did before even if very little actual change has occurred. They have come to terms with the reality that inner-heath, forgiveness, and personal fulfillment are all inside jobs and personal and individual pursuits.

September 13, 2018

How’s your heart…..?

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Friday

How is your heart? What, where is the Human Heart? What are you putting your heart in to? Are you loving life and others and yourself and God with all of your heart?

Clearly I am not referring to the physical beating organ in our chests, as powerful, necessary, and as crucial as each of ours is.

The heart, as I’m referring to it here is the seat of our emotions; the inner place where the mind or intellect, and the spirit, and the soul, meet.

It’s our bold essence, the cross section of mind and body and spirit and soul – this is the heart.

The core.

The center.

Where the Self begins.

And, it can be broken. And, it can be shattered. And, it can be healed.

Taking care of your heart is about a lot more than eating well and watching your cholesterol or engaging in regular exercise.

Our hearts can go from bruised or broken to bold and then onto being even more beautiful than they already are.

I know your heart is beautiful.

I have never met a person who did not have a beautiful heart, once you get to know someone.

Your heart may be broken, you may have been betrayed or even brutalised, but you will survive, you will rise up, you will love and be loved again.

Love your heart – it’s worth it.

May you have a bold and beautiful day………

September 12, 2018

How’s your heart?

by Rod Smith

How is your heart? What or where is the Human Heart? Clearly this is not about the physical beating organ in our chest, as powerful and as necessary and as crucial as each of ours is.

I think of it as the seat of emotion, the mind, the intellect, the spirit, the soul, the essence, the cross section of mind and body and spirit and soul – is the heart.

It’s the core or the essence of our individual beings. And, it can be broken. And, it can be shattered. And, it can be healed.

Taking care of your heart is about a lot more than eating well and watching your cholesterol.

Your heart (my heart) can go from bruised or broken to bold and onto being even more beautiful and bold than it already is.

Your heart is beautiful.

I have never met a person who did not have a beautiful heart, once you get to know him or her. Your heart may be broken, you may have been betrayed or even brutalised, but you will survive, you will rise up, you will love and be loved again.

Love your heart – it’s worth it.

September 10, 2018

When trauma hits

by Rod Smith

Major trauma has hit. You are face the overwhelming challenge of rebuilding your life.

Here are some things to anticipate:

Head-knowledge tells you that you have to carry on living. You can’t consistently find the heart for it. The strength to live on comes and goes like radio stations, years ago, would come in and out on long car trips. The trauma has left you confused on the rare occasions you can think at all. You are cloud-living and your feelings seem anesthetized. Your capacity to plan anything, even simple things, is severely impeded.

People annoy you, even people you love. They annoy you because their presence feels like a tug into the future you’d prefer not to face. You cry a lot when you least expect it.

So what do you do? You rest as much as possible. You drink a lot of water. You go for long walks, alone, even if it is speed walking in the mall and especially if it’s the last thing you feel like doing. You rest, you breathe. You face life a minute or an hour or a day at a time. You give yourself permission to succeed and to fail, and you offer yourself the love you’d offer a treasured friend.

Leadership Flower

Hope comes in the morning….. Psalm 30:5

September 4, 2018

Signs your teenager is really growing up….

by Rod Smith

A few ways (sigh of relief here) you can detect your teenager is growing up into a respectable person. All the points apply to both genders:

  • The parent hears frequent use of “please” and “thank you” from the teen even if the words are not specifically aimed at the parent.
  • Unsolicited gratitude is expressed and there’s no sign (or at least that you can detect) of manipulation at play.
  • Showering and all acts of personal hygiene happen without the parents having to insist they occur.
  • Dirty clothes are acknowledged as such rather than worn again and again in perfect denial of their foul state.
  • Homework and school assignments are tackled and completed without complaint and without a parent’s involvement and without cutting and pasting answers off enabling websites.
  • The use of electronic devices and games require no external parental monitoring – it’s become an inside job.
  • However it’s happening (online, on paper, or in the head) a calendar is kept and he or she is remembering commitments and showing up for them.
  • Sentences like, “I’ve got to get a really early night tonight because tomorrow is going to be a long and demanding academic day” and he or she goes to bed early.

img_0667.JPG(Hope is eternal! – my sons are now 16 and 20)

September 3, 2018

Rescuing my sons

by Rod Smith

The urge to rescue my children remains strong.

It’s something I have to persistently ward off if they are going to continue to be healthy young men.

This is not a new for me.

I remember feeling quite offended when a distant neighbor had a party for her five-year-old and did not invite mine.

My son was almost three.

Now, years later, both boys have been competitive soccer players and they don’t need any help from me. Yet, I feel the urge from the sidelines to have every pass go to them. I get annoyed at the other players who apparently fail to see my boys’ brilliance.

That’s not the only sideline I occupy.

I feel it in almost all their school subjects. I want to kick-start their social networks. I want to save them from ALL disappointment.

I quell these urges, almost always – perhaps erring when a little knightly parenting would have been helpful.

But, I quell the urges in the firm belief that my sons don’t need me to be their armor or savior. I suppress my lurking knight in the belief that every time I interfere with life’s ability to grow my boys up, I delay their maturity and summons life to repeat the lesson I shielded them from learning.

September 3, 2018

Surround yourself with healthy people

by Rod Smith

Surround yourself with healthy people by being as healthy as possible yourself.

Here are signs you with healthy people:

  • They don’t get sucked in or sidetracked by other people’s issues.
  • They know the limits of their skills and talents and they don’t volunteer or get involved with things just to appear nice or helpful.
  • They build friendships slowly, really slowly.
  • When you are with them you always have more choices than you thought possible and you always feel a greater sense of freedom.
  • They are ambitious and have goals and sacrifice as necessary to achieve their goals.
  • They are close to their families but not trapped by the closeness.
  • They honor their parents, but, as adults, they know they are not expected to obey their parents.
  • They are kind to people who appear to be able to offer them nothing or little in return.
  • They are always kind to people who wait on them and serve them in any manner.
  • They avoid making heroes or victims out of anyone.
  • They focus on their own behavior and not the behavior of others.
  • They have zero desire to control the behaviors of others.
  • They are generous with their time, talents, and resources.
September 1, 2018

Are you planning a great week ahead?

by Rod Smith

If you want a strong week ahead here are some simple (not easy) things you can do right away:

Take a few minutes right now and, using the old fashioned way with a pencil and paper, write three or four ways you will know this has been a good week. Be sure to write about yourself and your behavior, not about others and their behavior. You are the only one over whom you have some semblance of control.

Get a pocket-sized notecard and on one side write, in red, four things during the coming week, you won’t do, things that usually develop into regret. On the reverse side, and in blue, write four things you will do.

For me the “red side” are things like, “Don’t agree to activities or favors, or events just to be nice” and “Take 24-hours to think about things before you make an important decision” and “Don’t provoke sons when you already know (and they already know) they are in the wrong.”

The blue side is “Speak up for yourself and the family even if what you say may be unpopular” and “Forgive even if the other person neither requests it or deserves it” and “Look to reconcile and to love more than trying to be right.”

August 26, 2018

To Educators, everywhere

by Rod Smith

Etched in the Heart

To the Teachers I Know And Those I Don’t

Thousands of lives are enhanced because you demanded your students do their homework, tell truth, stand up straight, and look you in the eye.

You showed them how, and when, to use commas, solve x, and how to exercise and care for their bodies and run on and on and on, but not with their sentences. You helped little hands measure, cut, paste, and draw, and, then, when they got a little older and their hands were a little bigger, you taught them how to march and blow a bugle or beat a drum and pass a baton in relay races and score touchdowns and dance and sing on a stage to crowds of proud and adoring parents.

You showed them why bullying is not a good idea, and why it is wise to share, and unwise to dig in your nose, but wise to cover your mouth when you cough, and to turn away from others and say “excuse me” when you sneeze.

And to wash your hands. Always, wash your hands.

You taught them the power of “please” and “thank you,” and calculus, algebra, and pi, and that “i comes before e, except after c” and how to apologize and to play fair and how to make a paper doll and a paper airplane.

You told them about the planets and volcanoes and why Rome fell and about the International Date Line and salmon in Washington and Oil in Texas and corn in the Midwest and why the Big Apple is called the Big Apple.

You told them about the painful history of our nation and of its victories.

When they told you something was unfair you told them, as if for the very first time it has ever been said: life is not fair.

They cried on your shoulder when a crush crushed them, or a friend betrayed them, or a parent walked out never to return. They cried on your shoulder when you stood with them at a graveside as a body was lowered into the waiting ground; the body of a friend, or a dad, mom, brother, sister. They cried on your shoulder, yes, your shoulder, because they trusted you.

Why? Why did and do they trust you?

They trusted you because, because you trusted them. They trusted you because you had an ocean of patience when you taught them and you demonstrated the necessity of humility, generosity, kindness, and grit, and why we need verbs and adverbs and conjunctions and why we learn things we will never need once we leave school.

A thousand times, when they asked, “Can I use the restroom?” you said, “I don’t know, CAN you?”

Yes, teacher, yes, head of school. Yes, principal, librarian, coach, administrator, referee, custodian, lunchroom lady, superintendent of schools. They trust you because you taught them to play and to win with grace. You taught them that when they lose they could applaud the opposition and lose with courage. You taught them to hold their heads high in defeat or victory.

You taught them to look life in the eye and not back down.

You taught them to forgive when people didn’t deserve it and to love the unlovely, and to respect their elders and to protect children.

You taught them the difference between “lend” and “borrow” and you corrected them when they said “me and my friends” when they really meant, “my friends and I.” You taught them to love books and stories. You showed them they are made of the same stuff as the greatest writers and heroic sports figures world has ever known. You showed them that they too could win a Nobel Prize, the Booker Prize, a Pulitzer or the Superbowl.

You told them they had it in them to be astronauts, artists, acrobats, architects or all of them all at the same time.

You gave them the greatest gift of all: your faith, your trust. You believed in them and, by believing in them, you paved the way for them to believe in themselves. You showed them that if they did none of these things, like write a best seller or score the winning touchdown or get a call from the Oslo and the Nobel committee, their value and worth as humans was unsullied, because they were loved and treasured for who they are and not because they could spin a fine sentence or write a water-tight thesis or slam dunk a ball or run like the wind or play a piano like Beethoven.

When a woman or a man who is not your mom or your dad teaches you to tie a shoelace or how to be nice or helps you read a difficult novel to the very last page and get the thrill that only reading a novel to the very last page can offer – that person gets etched into the heart of a student, forever.

And that’s you, dear Educator.

Thank you.