Posts tagged ‘Children’

July 13, 2015

Autonomy – a powerful and natural urge within us all

by Rod Smith

I confess.

My urge for autonomy is screaming at me – it’s bouncing off the walls of my neo-cortex.

This time I am going to succumb.

Before I get hit the details let’s be sure that this is not a new thing nor is it peculiar to me. You probably have it too.
When my sons were much younger I’d take a shower to be alone. Or, I’d close myself in downstairs if the boys were napping upstairs and pretend I was in the house alone. This did it – it met my needs for autonomy. They settled down, at least until morning.

When I could legally leave my sons at home alone I’d go to a local coffee shop with a Time magazine and pretend I was on vacation, or, I’d go to Fresh Market and meander through the tropical fruit stands and pretend I was living back in Kona.
Once I was so desperate to think an uninterrupted thought I took the boys to church then lurked (unseen) through the building to the parking lot and headed for an early lunch at PF Changs where I pretended I was in Hong Kong.

It worked.

I picked up the boys an hour or so later and felt like I’d had a sabbatical.

Anything, yes; anything – I’d do about anything to satisfy my strong urge for autonomy.

Next week is going to be an unusual week.

Nate is going to “The Great Escape” in Wisconsin. Thulani is going on a mission trip to New Orleans.

I am going to take the VW Beetle and drive to my brother California – and, wait for it, I bought myself a floppy hat so I can do it with an open sun roof!

July 11, 2015

Why do you go to so many places and what do you do there?

by Rod Smith

A handful of (newspaper) readers have asked about our travel.

The suggestion is that I am independently wealthy, perhaps a little bored:

1. I travel mostly to speak in Youth With A Mission and its affiliated University of the Nations. I try to take my sons with me. This is a volunteer organization operating in hundreds of locations. I think I’ve been to about 40. I teach classes about growing up, personal responsibility, and about the concept of Differentiation of Self. I have loved this imperfect organization since I was 17. I have tried to play my role since 1986.

2. Outside of YWAM I have developed a readership through my newspaper column (The Mercury). Consequently, I have been invited to address schools, colleges, and public groups about various matters like RACE, ADOPTION, and SINGLE-PARENTING. My newspaper audience is predominantly in South Africa although invitations have come from the UK and Eastern Europe.

3. I travel to assist individuals and groups in conflict. I help people speak and hear each other and engage in necessary and meaningful conflict. On such missions I have no agenda but to help parties articulate what they think they need.

4. I don’t use PowerPoint, I have no bells and whistles. It’s all about the process, respect, mutuality, and love. When I use the term LOVE in this context I mean seeking the highest good for all concerned.

[YES. I will come to you, your organization, your school, church or whatever. It’s all about time and availability. No destination is too far. Am I expensive? YES. It will cost you everything – and the least expensive aspects of what it costs will have to do with money.]

December 26, 2014

Decisions for 2015…..

by Rod Smith

What gifts will you offer yourself and others in 2015?

Here are mine…

I shall make every attempt to be clearer about what I need and what I want, knowing full well that clarity and definition on my part do not guarantee that I will get what I need and want.

I shall make every attempt to be softer and gentler with my opinions, clearer with my humor, and less terse when annoyed both in print and in person. Readers have been more gracious than I deserve in pointing out this necessity to me and my close friends have been kinder than I deserve in accommodating my strong views.

I will use my skills and my privileged platform to promote the gifts and the skills of others.

I will vet requests on my time more carefully than I have done in the past so that I may give myself more fully to the things I love and to the things about which I am passionate.

I will look for the treasure in others, treasure that is so often hidden behind tough façades.

June 25, 2008

To spank or not to spank…

by Rod Smith

There is much debate about the disciplining of children. Here are two readers expressing contrary views. What do you think? How does it work (or not work) in your family? I welcome your responses:

“I have four kids and if one of them gets out of line I will spank their bottoms. Kids nowadays get away with too much stuff. If you tell your child to stop doing something and there are no consequences then he will just turn around and do it again. Putting your child in time-out only works at that time. When they get out of time-out they will do it again but if they get a spanking it’s going to hurt and they won’t do it again. We got spanking when we were children, and I learned right from wrong. In my opinion if you don’t spank your children and let them know who is the boss then they will run all over you.”

“I think spanking is barbaric. The last thing I want to do is hurt my children by hitting them. Parents who hit their children don’t deserve children and just teach children that the solution to all problems lies in violence.”

December 15, 2007

A Short Course in Good Manners for seventh grade students and all other humans….

by Rod Smith


New book: $11.00 delivers it to your door.

December 4, 2007

New book on MANNERS for young people……

by Rod Smith


I am proud of this 80+ page book written for 7th grade or Middle School students. To have a copy delivered to your door GO TO and click on BUY to the right.$11.00 inclusive of postage.

Allow a few days for delivery within the USA (a little longer outside of the USA).

October 22, 2007

Our daughter (26) constantly asks for money

by Rod Smith

“My daughter (26) constantly asks for money. She gets dead-end jobs and we have to pay her accounts (bills). We go without while she has everything. She has to have a car (to get to her job) and a cell phone (in case she gets the offer of a better job) and new clothes (to dress for an interview) and in the meantime her dad and I are forking out every month! Please help.” (Letter consolidated)

While you “fork out” your daughter has no motivation to change! Your niceness assists your mutual destruction. Stop. Today! Stop paying a cent toward anything for her. Turn off the source. I know I’ll be flooded with Emails suggesting I am hard, unkind, and don’t understand. I’ll be told it is clear that I am not a mother! Others will tell me things are different in South Africa and because I live in the USA I am out of touch with what it is like to be young in South Africa. Gosh, your daughter is 26! How much longer will you allow her to live like a dependent child. She is an adult.

Spoilt young adults (believe me America is full of them) are spoilt young adults no matter where they live. While you persist in bailing your daughter out, she will persist in giving you a hole into which you can throw your money. Stop. This is YOUR problem, not hers.


September 26, 2007

Invasive sister-in-law….

by Rod Smith

“My sister-in-law is very judgmental when it comes to how I treat my children (8 and 6). She rolls her eyes behind my back, she makes subtle comments, she sighs; she tells other relatives that she wonders what “some of the children in the family” will become. My husband just laughs it off and says she’s been this way since she was five years old. Do I say something or do I just let it go? (Shortened)

Reasonably sane people usually possess an innate knowledge about the rearing of their own children. I’d suggest you trust yourself, and trust your unique children-rearing approach enough to find the mirth within the intrusive “dialogue” you have with your hyper-vigilant sister-in-law.

So, yes, say something, and say whatever you have to say often. Just make sure whatever you say is usually funny. Use your voice to playfully expose her passive aggressive style of communication. A warm, gentle, and playful approach to your apparently stressed sister-in-law is unlikely to foster and change within her, but it is likely to let you off her caustic hook. 


March 12, 2007

Should I discipline my girlfriend’s children?

by Rod Smith

My girlfriend’s children are rude and get whatever they want from her. They are thankless and demanding. This is a woman I love and I am trying hard to help her with being a single mom. I was raised with strong discipline and my dad was never afraid to give us a good hiding. I think I should step in and give her children their limits. She says I better not touch them. This makes no sense. She can’t handle them and won’t let me do it. This is going to be what causes us to break up. Please help.

Chime in, please...

Chime in, please...

I’d suggest you do not, under any circumstances, resort to any form of physical punishment with the children. You are correct: this issue will probably result in the breakup of your relationship. Interfering in pre-existing relationships will almost always get a person in trouble. I’d suggest that you try to accept that your girlfriend will inevitably side with her children (over siding with you) even if the children are “demanding and thankless.” While we’d all prefer to live in a world where children were less-demanding and filled with appropriate gratitude, these are not values that you, the outsider, will be able to impart.

August 28, 2006

Son will have nothing to do with his family in the name of his church

by Rod Smith

Our loving son (23) got married two years ago and invited only my husband and me from his family. This was very hurtful. He has refused contact with his family whom he believes don’t understand his Christian faith. They live with his in-laws and his wife’s stepfather is the pastor. My husband has just recently undergone serious surgery. Our daughters went to visit him to tell them about his father’s illness. They stayed in the car outside their home to give him the message. Email contact is curt and brief. I emailed my son begging him for support as I miss him so much. The response was that the support I must get is from God. For a year we have respected his wishes but hope he will soon share his life with his family at this is difficult time. (Letter edited)

While your son is an adult and free to disconnect from his family, the disconnection is unlikely to serve him enduringly well. He is demonstrating cult-like behavior, whether he belongs to one or not. Except in rare circumstances, where a member of a family has been a victim of violence or sexually aberrant behavior, there are no helpful reasons to sever family ties. Your son is unlikely to find lasting emotional peace while being cutoff from his family.