Dove with Branch
October 23, 2006 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
Hello! - Dean Van Leuven

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, In response to unrecognized daughter-in-law: My own Mother talks about my brother's children to me every time we get together. I later realized that she talks about my children to my brother when she's with him "Turn-about-fair-play" I guess. My mother-in-law used to favor my stepdaughter because she was from a broken family. She felt sorry for her. She would even let her spend the night at her house and reject my daughter while my daughter begged the whole time to spend the night too. My daughter was too young to understand at the time. She also favored my husband's sister's daughter because her son was favored by his other grandmother. It hurt at the time but I have a lovely daughter and she's been a blessing. The other two "favored" grandchildren haven't had it so great so I just thank the Lord for what I have. My mother-in-law has been dead for several years now so those children have lost their special places and are now regular grandchildren just like mine and my husband's two. – Been There

Dear Been There, Life is like a soap opera. There are always people around you who make poor choices. Our job is to understand the effect of those choices on our children and teach them lessons that will allow them not to be hurt by those choices. First we must learn not to be hurt by the choices, so we do not model that for our children. Then we need to teach our children to accept that behavior in a way that will not be hurtful to them. We need to teach them that grandma has a reason for being the way she is; and it is okay for her to be that way. – the Dean

Dear Dean, My fiancée and I are very much in love and want to be married. We have one major problem! He wants to live in the city and I want to live in the country. He wants to get married now and work it out as we go along, but I want to resolve this first. What do you suggest? – Cautious

Dear Cautious, I suggest you resolve this issue before you marry since you consider it an important one. You may agree later. You may change your mind later. A happy marriage requires agreement on important issues. If you do not have the ability to resolve important issues before marriage, you most likely will not have that ability during marriage. I do not suggest marriage if you don’t have the ability to resolve your issues. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: P.O. Box 535, Elmira, OR 97437, or visit to submit by e-mail.

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

Let’s teach our children a better lesson! Let’s teach them that they should consider other viewpoints when making a decision. Because of our exaggerated viewpoint about right and wrong – especially when it comes to political parties – we teach our children to keep telling other people how stupid they are. And to keep it up until they agree with us. They learn their lessons from what they see us doing. Is this the example we want to set for them?

When we learn this behavior and talk to those who do not agree, we become entrenched in our positions, and are unable to influence each other’s thinking. No-one is influenced by the others’ words and we end up in arguments that sometimes deteriorate into fights. The only way we can enjoy life is to be around others who think like we do – unless of course we truly enjoy being mean spirited and making the lives of others unhappy. We are like spoiled children who must always have our way.

Remember that if we had the same belief that another person had, we would think like they do. They are honest people acting in their own beliefs about what is right and wrong. Learn to respect the other person’s point of view, and pass that lesson on to your children. Others will listen to us when they realize that we respect them for who they are. It is an important lesson to learn. Until the people of the world learn this lesson we will not live together in peace. If we work together, we can learn to come up with positive solutions that will work better for all of us. When we vilify those who disagree with us we can not live together in peace.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Gaining and maintaining the commitment to make positive changes in your life requires thought, feeling and behavioral change – none of which is easy. So give yourself credit and keep telling yourself how much harder your life will be if you don’t change. The benefits are worth all that work – many times over. Be willing to do the work, knowing that peace and joy lie ahead.

You can’t change, unless you think you can. You must get over, “I tried but I failed, therefore I can’t.” You must realize that you can change your beliefs. Realize you have accomplished difficult things before. Know that change requires significant thought and effort. Stop thinking “I will change;” instead, think, “I am in the process of changing.” If you think of changing your beliefs in some positive way, as something you will do, you’ll be tempted to put off doing the work required to arrive at a better life.

You may find it more effective to commit to changing only one or two of your habitual negative responses at a time. Work with each of them until you have them pretty well mastered, and then commit to additional changes. If you focus on fewer changes, it will be easier to keep them in focus. Whereas, if you try to change every single time when anger flairs, you might be taking on more than you will find the energy to maintain.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about the changes you would like to make in your life.

Tuesday: Decide what change you would make in each of these areas.

Wednesday: Think about what you learn or do to make each of these changes.

Thursday: Think about which changes are the most important.

Friday: Think about which changes will be the most difficult.

Saturday: Prioritize your changes and select which ones you will begin now.

Sunday: Start and maintain the process of change.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of A Peaceful New World and many other books dealing with quality of life issues. Contact him on the web at:

Additional Notes

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Past issues of this newsletter for the year 2006 are archived on my website.

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Dean Of Peace | P.O. Box 535 | Elmira | OR | 97437