Tough love is something that most parents must face as their children grow through those awful teenage years. When you as a parent have to exercise the tough love option, it is almost harder on you than it is as for your child. You dole out the tough love option when you have nothing left inside; you feel that there are no other avenues to try.
What exactly is tough love? Well most people will say it is when you act harshly towards your child in order to correct a behavior. There are all sorts of internet sites on tough love. Some sites say tough love is the wrong thing to do, while other say it is good. Unfortunately, much of what you read is horror stories at those camps but you do not have to do that. Tough love works, I know as I have recently been forced to give a dose of tough love.
From a personal standpoint, I can say I believe in tough love because when you have gone through the groundings, restrictions and lectures there is nothing else left. Yes, I confess I am one of those parents who exercised tough love in early July. Before you all become outraged, let me tell you exactly why I made the decision to try tough love.
I have three children who all live with me, a 16-year-old son, an 18-year-old son who still attends high school and an adult daughter who lives with us. This article about tough love concerns my middle child who turned 18 back in January.
Last summer he threw a drinking party for his underage friends, I grounded him, and he was charged with underage drinking by the local police. The local magistrate gave him 24 hours of community service, and he had to write a paper. He is generally a good kid, but since I tossed out his father he has became a bear to live with. He had not committed any crimes prior to this and that is why the magistrate was so easy on him. The idea of tough love was brought up but I dismissed it.
I told my son that he needed to call his father and confess what he had done, and he did. He talked with his father in my presence and hung up the phone a few minutes later, and told me what his father said. His father told him to party where he will not be caught next time!
Tough love was not what I expected from my ex, but I certainly was not expecting this. My ex seen nothing wrong with out son drinking, and that is sad. I know my ex likes to drink, but his alcoholism was one of the things that led me to ask him to leave.
I had my friend Beth talk with him, as she is an officer with our local police department. I was trying to do what I could. However since he was eighteen already groundings, restriction etc were not working. Again, tough love was brought up and I resisted.
He had a job, but his money was all being spent elsewhere and he never seemed to have enough. He took time off his full time job to party with friends and work as a subcontractor for a local business. He ended up being fired from both jobs before summer began for various reasons, and drinking I am sure was included.
He was resorting to taking my credit cards by this summer. I began hiding them as well; however, in early July he took the weekly child support I got for him and his brother. It was $101, which may not seem like a lot to some people, but it was the thought that he took the whole thing and spent it on his friends. At this time, I had no choice but to try tough love, so I called the local police who responded quickly.
The officer talked to both of us at the same time, and my son did not seem to understand what he had done so wrong. The officer told him he could be charged with a felony and since he was eighteen, he could be charged as an adult. My son got defiant, but I did not want to be responsible for giving him a felony so I opted to kick him out of the house for a week. Tough love is a harsh reality.
It is summer and warm here in small town rural Pennsylvania where there is only 2,000 people. My son is a very popular boy; I knew he would not be living out on the streets. Although he did not tell me where he was staying, the people where he stayed called and let me know he was there.
This was tough love on my part. Trust me he was not out on the street, he was safe and cared for. He remained in contact with my daughter, and I did not speak to him for those first 6 days. That sixth night he did call and we talked, and he was here within the hour.
He is back with us, and he had changed for the better in many ways. He is now helping with the lawn, gardening and being helpful around our house. He takes the time to play with his niece and nephew when he is here, and is very nice to his siblings. Tough love, even modified worked for our family.
He has gotten both jobs back as he is a hard worker, and on Monday August 25 2008, I watched him as he enlisted in the Army. I was a very proud mom let me tell you, and I felt the tears well up often during that meeting when he signed the papers and we talked to the recruiter. He had his first urinalysis after he signed the papers and he passed it, which means he has not been doing anything harmful. I am thankful I did tough love, as it has worked.
Right now, he is just enlisted in the army reserves as he finishes high school, but he will be going into the army afterwards. The tough love I gave him has given him the incentive to change around his life, and he is courteous, respectful to everyone, and helpful now. Granted it has taken 7 weeks for him to make this latest change but it is a huge step in the right direction.
My baby boy has become a man, without the help of his father who had been pretty much non-existent in his life for the past 8 years. I am proud of my son; he seems to have found his own path finally and is on the right path. I am so thankful I finally had the courage to try tough love.
The proceeding article was written in the summer of 2008, and things have resolved.
Tough Love resources