An offering of loving truth… Relationships are sweetened an enhanced when there is a mutual commitment to love and truth. They (love and truth) are foundational to trust, a cornerstone of family and community. Love and truth are pivotal to building meaningful history. They (love and truth) are both stepping stones and the pillars for […]
Your parents are the most important people you will ever know. Get things right with them, and you’ll be poised for success. By “right” I mean embark on the ongoing journey to develop your skills by loving, honoring, enjoying, and negotiating with them. If you don’t, if you settle for on-going conflict, you will probably […]
Counsel with your priest, rabbi, pastor, counselor….. Will almost always leave you feeling freer, more empowered, and with a greater appreciation for your skills and vast possibilities. I say “almost” because there will be times when, in response counsel, you will see the need for helpful introspection or the need for some radical personal changes. […]
A few ways to “grow” your sons and daughters – crucial conversations Talk about everything under the sun. Nothing about sex, money, death, grief, joy, pain, and fulfillment ought to take your children by surprise. Rid yourself of the oft-touted notion that men should talk to sons and mothers to daughters about sexual and intimate […]
Traps and misconceptions accompany a decade-plus of writing a daily newspaper column (read by hundreds of thousands of people in ‘hard copy’ and accessed online in 200 countries). Once revealed they are wise to avoid: 1. Some readers believe that if you write and speak about parenting your children must be perfect. This, of course, […]
It is a die-hard custom for columnist to “reflect” on the past year. Here are broad principles I have found to be true in 2012. I hope, readers in Southern Africa and elsewhere, that you will share yours with me via Email: 1. Life is simultaneously beautiful and brutal. It is wiser to embrace both […]
1. Maintain both intimate, committed relationships AND casual relationships in a manner that they do not get in the way of each other. 2. Maintain a career in order to support a family AND do so in a manner that is not costly to the family or to the career. 3. Maintain an interest in […]
Generational anxiety is present in all families, organizations, schools, and places of worship. When understood, as much as it can be understood, it can become a source of empowerment. If ignored or denied, it can wreck havoc. It is no respecter of persons. Billionaires, those with royal histories, are as prone to anxiety’s pernicious ways […]
“My children (12 and 14) are supposed to go to their father every second weekend. Sometimes they don’t want to go. Sometimes one wants to go and the other does not. It has always been my policy to let them choose even if it means I have to change plans at the last moment. This makes my ex very angry because then he has to change his plans too. I think the children and what they want comes first, so I make plans to fit them in no matter where they are. They did not choose to be from a divorced family and it should not inconvenience them. What should I do?” Your children did not choose to be from a divorced family – correct. This said – they are. Allowing your children to change plans at the last minute is not fair on anyone, and it gives too much sway and power to the children. Suggesting your children stick to what has been decreed by the courts, or by the parents, is probably good practice for all concerned. You will not ease the pain of the family’s divorce by giving the children too much power over your life. Take a stand, mom. You children will love you for it – one day.
Faith communities – of all expressions – can be glorious homes away from home. They can offer a safe place to those who want to be engaged in meaningful community, a worthwhile cause like serving the poor, or feeding the hungry, or any other noble goal. They can also be hives of gross manipulation, serving the rich, coddling the egos of leaders, and fostering (subtle or gross) encroachment on the essential personal freedoms, all in the name of serving God. Signs a faith community is out of line: The absolute freedom of any person within the community is compromised. Shame, sarcasm, or humiliation, are used to maintain order, control, position, or power. Someone, or some group, is “in the know” while others have to blindly trust and follow. While questioning may not be totally discouraged, anyone who questions too much may be considered lacking in faith, or lacking desired humility. Financial details (salaries, expenses) are held in secret. A charismatic or persuasive leader carries an aura that places him (it’s almost always male) above question. “Guidance from on high” or promotion within the ranks of the community, are contingent on the abandonment of self to the cause or to the community. Allegiance to the leader or to the community trumps allegiance to members’ immediate and extended families.
If eating well, getting sufficient amounts of sleep, drinking lots of water, and exercising daily are good for your physical and your psychological health, here are a few practices that will similarly improve your family’s health: Stay out of the middle. Leave other people’s interpersonal dilemmas, problems, conflicts to the people involved, as much as you possibly can. For instance, if your children are struggling to get along, leave them to it. Intervene only when it is absolutely necessary. The more you get in the middle, the more you short-circuit necessary growth. This principle holds true for children and adults alike. Show up, speak up, and stand up for yourself. If you are clear about asserting your wishes, clear in establishing your boundaries, you give others permission to do the same. Of course, you already understand that it is unlikely that you will get what you want in the manner in which you want it, but at least your clarity will inspire others to be equally assertive. Develop a written plan for your life. You know what you love. You know what you are good at. Writing a blue-print of what you’d love to become, and revising it whenever necessary, will at least help you steer yourself in a helpful direction.
The power of repair, of change comes, not because you buy a new car, get a new job, or ditch your wife for a new one. It begins nowhere else but in the deepest recesses of your soul. For the journey you will require a steel will, pencil and paper, humility, and an open heart. Then… 1. Face yourself. It's impossible to be genuine with others while you are fooling yourself. Tell yourself the truth about yourself. Unwind, dismantle, your self-lies and pretensions and sophistications. Despite your fears, you will probably not fall apart. My hunch is you'll “fall together” and become a more beautiful than you can imagine. 2. Open up. Be more vulnerable. Let others, but not all others, in. Tell people who love you what terrifies you. Expose your masks, the facades you fear losing. Tell them about what you fear will be exposed. But, take your time. The cover-up has taken a lifetime. It won't be repaired overnight, or without pain. 3. Set yourself on a "highest good" track: for yourself first, for others, second. Do no harm and try to avoid people and organizations that do. Promote the empowering and the wellbeing of others. This is most tangibly done through acts of generosity, service, and forgiveness.
"My son (25) is terrible with money. He's already in deep debt and getting into more and more with phones and computers and everything he needs for his own business. I've bailed him out a few years ago, his grandparents have recently bailed him out, and now he's back in the thick of it. Is there a course you know about we could send him on to learn about how money works?" Your son knows how money works, at least in your family: he spends it, and you or his grandparents bail him out. That's how it works. It is not your son only, who has money issues in your family. While you insist on saving him with your money, you too have a money issue. If you really want him to understand how money really works, don't send another cent on his direction or suggest anyone else does. Money, the lack of it, the power it wields when it is owed, is a cruel but very efficient teacher – and there are many very-willing debt retrievers, bank managers, and loan sharks who will be excellent tutors and guides even if he is an unwilling student. Your son is already on a training course. Resist the urge to short-circuit his learning. He's 25, not 7!