June 9, 2018

Giving children a fighting chance…..

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Wednesday

Freely give your children a fighting chance… – note to self –

Let them off the hook of being the constant focus of your attention. Maintain a life that both includes and excludes them. Do this for the good of all. Parent your child for you child’s wellbeing, not for your own.

Babies need space. Build it into your daily parenting routine.

Children thrive with freedom. Structure hours of it. Make it as essential as healthy food.

Cramped, stifled, or smothered teens will demand opportunities for independence. If they don’t have it, they will kick against anything and anyone to get it. Tough as it may be, make freedom easy for your child so he or she never has to fight for it.

Young adults will flee, if it is necessary, to find the room to become self-sustaining and interdependent. Expect it. Welcome it. Facilitate it. Celebrate it. Do this and the inevitable journey of becoming fully adult will be as much a pleasure for you as it is for young adults.

It’s better to accommodate, facilitate, and celebrate, every person’s natural urge for space and freedom and autonomy, before it becomes a tug-of-war. Before it gets ugly. Before feelings are hurt and relationships are unnecessarily damaged.

June 9, 2018

Letter to teenagers

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Dear Teen:

Dear Teenager:

It is really possible to become a fully functioning adult without:

• Rejecting your parents’ deeply treasured and tested values;

• Resorting to the use of alcohol, drugs, or tobacco products;

• Resisting correction from those who are more experienced than you are;

• Replying with monosyllabic grunts when you are asked about your day or to help around the house;

• Rebelling.

You probably will reach adult age and be less than functional if you:

• Resist work and are given everything you need without having to earn it;

• Spend significant amounts of time on your phone and on social media;

• Demand things from your parents that you could earn yourself;

• Develop a secret life, one that you have to hide from your parents;

• Expect your parents to step in on your behalf if you’ve not met expectations at school and are made accountable for it.

Yes – you are right. Your parents and your teachers often make mistakes and imperfect adults surround you. Nonetheless, your keys to success will emerge, not through rebellion, but through hard work, remaining connected to those who have loved you your entire life, and by being open to learning from the adults who, despite their failings, remain committed to your magnificent future.

Rod Smith

June 7, 2018

Both must come to the table….

by Rod Smith

“I told you a little bit about friends and family that we have had to cut ties with over the years. Recently you have written about reconciliation in families. In our sad experience it always takes both parties to come to the table and if they don’t then it’s pointless. For three decades we’ve had to put up with verbal abuse, insinuations, insults, and then being completely ignored by a family member. How does one even begin to try and reconcile with such an obviously troubled, unstable, irrational, angry and downright nasty soul?” (Edited)

Reconciliation takes at least two people. If you have done your part in searching your soul and cleansing your heart and clearing a path toward estranged family members, and you are willing for reconciliation to occur, then you have done all you can do.

Forgiveness takes one person. You are able to forgive the person who has treated you in the manner you have described. I’d suggest you do so, for your sake, not for the sake of the “downright nasty soul.”

Reconciliation is always better than estrangements and tension; forgiveness is always better than resentment and anger.

There are times when reconciliation seems impossible.

June 7, 2018

Money…. a note to children and teenagers

by Rod Smith

A word to children and teenagers:

Save your money. Now. Save for the future and save in the future. The sooner you learn how powerful money is the better. It is one of several things that can make or break you. If you are careful now, if you get good advice now, you could be free to go anywhere in the world and do about anything you want within a fairly short space of time. Here’s the bottom line – bottom line is a financial term so I will keep the cliché: you have two choices – money works for you, or, you work for money.

Which would you prefer?

You will default to working for money unless you plan for money to work for you. Today is the time to decide. It is at this point in your life, while you yourself are debt free, that you have the choice. Money doesn’t like you to have freedom of choice. It takes its captives early. It takes its captives when they are as young as possible, and, of course, it keeps them as long as possible, preferring to complicate their lives even after death.  I am referring to money as if it is a powerful being.

I do this because it is.


Happiness and money

You will hear people say that money can’t buy happiness and other really tired clichés. You will observe that it is usually people who have neither money nor happiness that feel compelled to repeat this nonsense.

I am not suggesting for a moment that money makes people happy – but it is a lot nicer to have money if you are going to be unhappy.

Money won’t make an unhappy person happy, but the lack of it certainly doesn’t do much to enhance unhappiness.

Happy people are happy, rich or poor. There’s not enough money on the planet to make unhappy people happy. Their emotional condition does not have a price tag. It is not about money.

If you are good with money you could put into motion something so powerful and so long lasting that people generations from now could benefit.

You don’t believe me?

Look around your city and see how many buildings are named after people. These people were (usually) good with money. Or, you could let money rule you, and you could spend the rest of your life paying off credit cards and making bankers you will never know richer than they already are. They will go on lavish vacations in interesting places on the interest you are paying them. They will buy vacation homes at your expense. Is this what you want?

Save now. Your empire needs it.

June 1, 2018

When is it not a relationship?

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Tuesday

When is a relationship not a relationship?

When the relationship feels like a game of chess and you have to constantly think ahead to outsmart your opponent – or be outsmarted.

When it’s conditional and the conditions include a list of whom you may or may not phone, text, or meet.

When what you choose to wear (clothing or makeup) becomes a source of friction.

When it involves dominance or control and your natural resistance to being controlled or dominated results in conflict and your commitment and your love is questioned.

When your whereabouts and your activities are monitored and you are expected to account for the use of your time, money, and mileage.

When you have to lie about visiting your family or your friends or have to deny that you crave spending time with others on the “outside” of the “relationship.”

When he or she just happens to show up – and your degree of joy and surprise is evaluated, but what is actually happening is your ability to be trusted is being assessed.

When you have to anticipate your partner’s needs, read his or her mind, anticipate his or her moods, and respond in a manner that makes him or her happy or feel loved.

When no matter how much you try to love, forgive, have fun, be serious, be carefree, be intimate, be unconditional in your love – it is NEVER enough.

May 30, 2018

Do you have what it takes to be a bridge in a family conflict?

by Rod Smith

To the man or woman who wants to bridge, or negotiate healing, or initiate restoration, in a new or age-old family conflict:

  • Know clearly what you want before you initiate any dialogue. I hope the “you” is clear. It’s not what your spouse wants. It’s not what you think your parents (living or deceased) want. It’s what you want. If you are the one who wants it (healing, reconciliation) you’d best be very honest with yourself about exactly what it is you want. “I want reconciliation,” is not enough. What degrees of reconciliation are you willing to settle for? If you can’t get all of what you want how much compromise can you handle?
  • Find the most humble version of yourself and live there for a few weeks. This will permit you to enter the world of those who oppose. When and if you do meet, bring the most humble version of yourself to the meeting. This means you will listen more than you will talk and, in doing so, you will seek understand more than to be understood.
  • You are not ready for reconciliation until you are able to articulate the conflict from all sides. Work on that before you initiate any dialogue.
May 29, 2018

Rifts, wars, schisms, in families

by Rod Smith

Extended or immediate family discontent, even family rage, is more easily solved, healed, or negotiated sooner rather than later. Wait too long and it may go on for generations.

The longer schisms linger, the deeper they become and the more entrenched and “default” the reactive behaviors become. Bitterness, cynicism set in. Cut-offs become a way of life. Walls get higher and stronger.

The stories about who did what to who expand, often beyond recognition, in the heads of those who harbor and perpetuate the conflict.

To find healing or reconciliation, the “bigger” person, or the stronger member of the family, or the one who has the highest levels of “differentiation of self,” the one who wants the healing, initiates a conversation. That conversation must be devoid of all blame and all finger pointing. He or she does the necessary preparation and decides exactly what is wanted and what healing in a particular family may look like. Such an initiative demands humility, flexibility, and a deep desire for reconciliation.

Some families have been at war with each other for so long those who started it are long buried and those on the front lines do not even know anymore why they are fighting.

Please, don’t let that be true for you and for your family.

The consequences are too extreme, especially for innocent children who are inevitably caught in the crossfire.

May 26, 2018

How to fall in love with your backbone all over again:

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Tuesday

To Whom It May Concern: How to Love Your Backbone

A backbone is one of those “use it or lose it” things.

In order to love it you have to find it.

Some men and women have been filleted. This can be done swiftly, or painstakingly slowly by life, “love”, family, or by church.

If it was done some time ago its presence may be hard for you to fathom and locate.

But, complete filleting is possible with fish, but not humans. It’s in there. You just have to want to find it.

Second, you have to acknowledge its usefulness.

You have to see its purpose, its role in propelling you to face yourself and the world.

Third – you have to practice.

You have to show up, stand up, and speak up, even if it is in small ways about seemingly insignificant matters.

If you start with nonthreatening situations, perhaps where you have been a pushover in the past, you’ll get used to the feel of your backbone.

Once you begin to trust its usefulness you will like it more and more and begin to use it in more important situations like your intimate relationships, at work, with your parents, your children, or even, if you are a pastor, with your congregation.

May 26, 2018

You tell everything about a man from….

by Rod Smith

May 25, 2018

Change in others…. and self

by Rod Smith

The Mercury

Are you a therapist who believes you can’t change others but you can only change yourself?

What I believe may appear paradoxical:

I believe I can only change only myself but my powers to do so are limited. For instance, in the past 10 months I have lost 18 Kg (40 pounds). Keep in mind that I’ve done this at least 20 other times in my adult life!

I believe I am powerless over changing others and shudder at the thought of what changes I’d make if I could. Think about it. Playing God comes with consequence. Yet, I have seen people grow as a result of our knowing each other.

I believe that if I set out to change others the push back, which may take years, perverts the relationship. It results in emotional ducking and diving (hide and seek) which distorts or perverts the freedom and purity all humans crave.

I believe that RELATIONSHIP itself has remarkable power to changes us. We make, shape, and provoke each other. We stimulate each other to great, wonderful things. The converse is, of course, sadly, also true.

I believe all change begins with unilateral forgiveness, the decision to be generous, and a shoring up of both internal and external boundaries.