Dove with Branch
April 26, 2010 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, I am considering marriage to a woman who has two teenage children. I like her children and they like me but her concept of discipline is very different than mine. She doesn't punish them when they violate the rules. Also she won't let me discipline them when they refuse to obey, even if he is not present. Should we still get married when this issue is unresolved. How do we go about resolving it? - Gary in ID

Dear Gary, You shouldn't get married until this issue is resolved. The two of you need to have a discussion so that each of you will understand the other's views on parenting. You then need to devise a plan that will work for both of you. You both need to agree to support the plan and to fully support the other parent's efforts to carry it out. Any discussion or disagreement should not be in the presence of the children. You might start with the question of whether you are going to teach the children responsibility, or just to obey authority. - the Dean

Dear Dean, My husband's children are unruly and are always picking arguments with me and my children. My husband supports his children and thinks mine are snobs. How can we solve this problem? - Brandi in CA

Dear Brandi, You dont have a family. You have two families living together under the same roof. I suggest you solve this problem now, or you may need to find an additional roof. Your problem is very similar to Gary's. You and your husband need to get together and decide how you are going to parent, and then do it in a way that is supported by both of you. It is important that you think of your step-children in the same way you think of your own. Family is the issue, not blood. Who you live with is your family. It is up to you to have the kind of family you want to have. Happy families require love and respect from each to all. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: 90022 Sheffler Rd., Elmira, OR 97437, or visit www.DeanOfPeace.com. to submit by e-mail.

Law, Politics & Society ... As I see them
  Globe Magnify Glass

We have a right to free speech. This is an essential right that should not be controlled or tempered by our government except in matters of physical safety to others. In a free society we must be free to express our opinions about anything and everything. Even if the hearer doesn't accept the message as appropriate or desirable we still have the right to state our beliefs.

We are however a member of our society and we have a personal stake in how it functions. This creates a secondary obligation that we concern ourselves with the effect our message will have on the listener as well as society as a whole.

If we are to live with our neighbors in peace and harmony we should consider presenting our message in a way that promotes that. If we care about creating a positive change we should present our message in such a way that it will most likely be considered in a positive way by the listener. All too often we present our message with so much anger and negativity that it is resisted by the listener just because of the way it is presented.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Train yourself to be a good listener by learning how to "listen deeply." To do this, you must put your own thoughts and beliefs on hold, and really focus on what the other person is saying. Unfortunately, most conversations can be characterized as"my stuff/your stuff." They can be likened to a strange game of tennis - played with separate balls. You serve your ball to me. I let it pass and serve my ball back to you. You let it pass and serve your ball back to me. The game continues in this way - with neither player returning the other person's ball. In such an instance, it obviously isn't a game at all. And in a conversation with the same characteristics, its not really a conversation at all. You want to tell your story and I want to tell mine.

We never hear the other person's story because we are too busy telling our own. How many conversations have you had lately that went this way? We can defuse another person's anger simply by putting an end to the "my stuff/your stuff" game and truly listening to that person. Interestingly, very often when you give an upset person the courtesy of politely listening to what they have to say, without interrupting them or retaliating in anger, their anger is reduced. And they will be better able to listen to your story after you have fully listened to them.

As you are listening; focus on the feelings being expressed by the other person, rather than the strict meaning of their words. The feelings are the most important part of any message. When a child tells us, "Billie hit me," we tend to focus on the hit instead of how the child feels. If you can respond in a way that lets the child know you understand how he feels, this will tend to calm him down. For example, "It sounds like you feel hurt and angry." Learn to deal with an angry person's feelings in this way. Their feelings are usually far more important to them than the event itself.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about how closely you listen when other people talk.

Tuesday: Think about how to recognize other people's feelings as they talk.

Wednesday: Learn to listen completely to the other person's message before you think about responding to them.

Thursday: Learn to allow the other person to tell you their story fully before you tell them your story.

Friday: Learn to ask questions so you can fully understand what the other person is saying.

Saturday: Learn to ask questions so you can fully understand how the other person is feeling.

Sunday: Resolve to always listen thoughtfully and fully to what the other person has to say before you respond.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of Life Without Anger and many other books dealing with quality of life issues. Contact him on the web at: www.DeanOfPeace.com

Additional Notes
 

The World Emotional Literacy League in conjunction with World Without Anger and Lumbini Buddhist University has taken on the task of introducing emotional literacy training in the educational system of Nepal nationwide. In support of that program I will be conducting workshops throughout the United States and Canada. These workshops will provide an introduction to the emotional skills training program as well as an introduction to establishing emotional skills training programs in your local area. The program and my workshops are based on my textbook "Emotional Intelligence - Taking Control of Your Life."

I have taken on the task of supporting the teaching of emotional skills training in the educational system with the trust and hope, that many in your community will be able to share in the vision of this great work,and join us in this amazing project. We are promoting a "Sponsor a School" program to raise awareness and support throughout the U.S. & Canada. If you have any interest in the program and/or having a workshop in your area. Contact me for additional information.

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I welcome your suggestion or comments. If you have a question that you would like addressed in the Ask the Dean? column feel free to send them to drdean@lifewithoutanger.com

 

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