October 5, 2018

Daughter unhappy at school

by Rod Smith

“Yesterday my daughter (14) told me how unhappy she is at school. She says the other girls are picking on her and leaving her out and being really mean. Up until last week she was very happy and talking about her best friends and planning weekend events. This week it has all changed. Do I go into the school? Do I phone her friends’ mothers. How do I fix this?”

I’d suggest you watch things for a while. The change you have seen in the matter of days could also change back – and then all your interventions will come to nothing. Relationships can shift in a matter of days as you have attested. Work on managing your own anxiety rather than trying to reduce your daughter’s discomfort or alleviate her unhappiness. The more she can face herself for herself the better. These are life-long skills best learned as early as possible.


Also, I think it is wonderful that your daughter is free to confide in you. Protect this relationship. It’s a treasure. At the same time try to avoid protecting your daughter from learning the lessons only life is able to teach.   

October 1, 2018

How to mend a broken heart in seven easy steps….

by Rod Smith

Don’t skip a step:

  1. Wail. Spew as much raw emotion as humanly possible. Do it privately in bouts over several weeks. Rent a room in a rural cabin if you must, but cry every available tear. Un-cried tears will turn to poison and make you bitter, angry, cynical, hard, and sarcastic. Don’t deny your heartbreak. Doing so will create backlash in future relationships. This step may take several weeks.
  2. Step one will leave you exhausted. So, rest. When this is reasonably accomplished (it is seldom perfected), purchase several blank journals and leave no stone unturned as you reconstruct your heartbreak on paper. Write as much detail as you possibly. Get your mind off what he or she (or others) did do, or what he or she (or others) did not do. Focus attentively upon your role you played in the romance’s decline and downfall.
  3. Read respected books. I love Harriet Learner’s “Dance” series and David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage and The Sexual Crucible. I also like Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries. Ask people whom you already respect for their favorite “relationship” writers, then get to work. If you do not consider yourself a reader, become one.
  4. If, having followed all of the recommendations thus far, you detect some momentary desire for retribution or revenge, or, if you find yourself wishing for some serious illness to inflict your ex, go back to the beginning of this list and start again. The teeniest morsel of desire for revenge will blind you forever. Get rid of it.
  5. Value your integrity above any relationship. Tell the truth about who you are. Decide what you want. Remind yourself that it is you alone who makes decisions about who you will be with, what you will or will not do, and how you will spend your time and resources.
  6. Embrace the fact that broken hearts seldom fully mend. Pain is often the companion of deep, powerful love. While hearts do not always mend, you can be wiser in the future than you were in the past. Take a close look at your expectations, boundaries, and your reactions to the unavoidable conflicts that accompany all significant relationships.
  7. Move on, but not into a new relationship. Allow at least six months for your recovery from any broken romance, even if the romance itself lasted only three months. Following the breakup of longer relationships, allow substantial time to pass – even a year or two – before you think of embarking on a new relationship.
October 1, 2018

In so many ways we are all the same….

by Rod Smith

Take a close look around you. No matter where you are in the world you will see that the people you meet (and the masses you may only see from a distance) are not too different from you. They may speak different languages and dress very differently from you and have lots of behaviors you do not understand, but, in essence they are in many ways just like you. We all want:

  • Respect, a place at the table, and acknowledgement and respect that comes with simply being.
  • To belong, and for our occasional absence to be noticed and missed.
  • Meaningful conversations, authentic affirmations, and affection appropriate to the relationship.
  • To be heard and to hear others; to have an opportunity to hold and to express an opinion and for that opinion to be heard and respected.   
  • Meaningful work; work that counts, that makes an impact, that doesn’t feel like a waste of time and energy and work that is rewarded with a livable wage or salary.
  • To live in peace and to have your belongings protected and your reputation protected and respected.
September 29, 2018

We are moving house…..

by Rod Smith

I have spent this entire past week moving out of the house the boys and I have lived in all of their lives. I can’t decide if it has been a freeing or depressing or a large dosage of both. Book by book, box by box, sock by sock, and memory by memory, I moved through our beloved old house (built in 1885). I have found myself lingering over the phases, recalling things I didn’t know were buried within me. Some memories are funny, some are sad, very sad. All of them together form the backdrop of who we are as a family and a spring-broad of who will each will be in the future, both alone and together. Cries of infancy, giggles of toddlerhood, and the preteen tussles over homework and later yelling matches from different rooms about who has the remote and who let the dog out without checking to see if the gates were closed and questions like “am I the only one who knows how to pack the dishwasher?” echo off the walls. Today I unloaded the dryer for the last of thousands of times and found myself a little tearful, not so much that we are moving house, but because all change demands loss, not matter how wonderful the gains.


September 26, 2018

Walking on eggshells?

by Rod Smith

Are you walking on eggshells at home, at work, or with a particular friend?

It’s very draining to have to watch your every move lest you offend and have to examine what you want to say in the event your words get thrown back at you for analysis.

Living on edge, or “walking on eggshells,” is probably not good for you.

So, what do you do?

Examine the eggshells. Where did they come from? Try to find the source. Is it you, something in your history, or is it other party? When did it begin? When did you start watching your every word and move with this person or in this situation?

If you are the source and you have noticed this before in some of your other relationships, then embrace the challenge to rid yourself of such behavior. Talk about it to a trusted friend. Find your backbone. Embark on your personal journey to eradicate the self-imposed eggshells in your life.

If the other party is the source, plan to address it. Be clear. Be sensitive. Be gentle, but be strong. Avoidance and denial add to the problem. Naming the issue, getting it out in the open, will bring you deserved relief.

September 24, 2018

I ask a woman….

by Rod Smith

I ask a woman how her life is going and she tells me about her children’s lives. 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. I 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 on. I 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.

September 20, 2018

Friday formula

by Rod Smith

The Mercury

Friday Formula

Greet all people with a smile, even if you’re faking it. It’s not insincerity. It’s being polite. It’s refusing to infect others with your inner discontent. Get rid of your discontent in private, when you’re alone.

Be as clear as possible with plans and expectations so possible hurdles and misunderstandings are minimized. Most people like straightforwardness and honesty more than they like complex surprises that could have easily been avoided. Clarity now usually means fewer confusions later. Try it.

Talk less. Listen more. Ask questions that assist others to talk more. Promote other people’s dreams and desires. Move away from shifting every conversation to focus on you and your interests. Other people are very interesting, perhaps even more interesting than you may be.

Do simple things to lessen the load of others. Open doors, stand back, pick up after yourself, and say “please” and “thank you” a lot. Assume a servant attitude no matter how important you or others may think you are.

Work at being the most generous, forgiving, and kind person you’ve ever encountered and you’ll be amazed at how many generous, forgiving, and kind people you will repeatedly encounter.

September 19, 2018

Grief, a personal pursuit

by Rod Smith

Grief is a private journey. Don’t mess with it, not in yourself or in others.

You may be like Peter who needs to let it all out and talk things through with anyone who is available. He wants to talk about it, a lot. Peter wants to talk about it so much some of his friends and family try to silence him and avoid him. Talking seems to ward off his pain.

Or, you may be like Paul. He keeps it all in. He seems to needs the inner churning to help him get to grips with what he has lost or is losing. Only Paul knows he is constantly processing his loss because it is internal for Paul.

Mary denies her loss. She may need days, weeks, even years to accommodate the loss and change she has to face and so she has escalated her degree of activity. Observers may interpret her behaviors as denial but the treadmill she has created is helpful to Mary. Perhaps you are like Mary.

Whatever your response to your loss, the important thing is that it is yours and you are free to explore it in any manner you choose.

You’ll hear time and again that “time heals”, a cliché that holds limited truth.

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 Pexels.com

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.