Parents, teachers, and instructors know “tough love”. But first, what tough love is NOT. It’s not verbal abuse, insults, physical abuse, neglect, silence, or anger to make a point. Tough love can only be given by those with the wisdom and experience to understand how being firm now will benefit someone or themselves in the future. You would never yell at a toddler for running in a playground, but you would if they ran into the street. You would not lock your child in their bedroom until they finished their math homework, but you might set a timer for 30 minutes and check in on them twice to see if they need help. You might let your child stay up late on a Friday night for a family movie night, but you would enforce an 8:30pm bedtime on school nights. It might be a challenge to get your child to eat a salad or steamed broccoli, but even half of it is better than nothing.
You can be the giver of tough love as a parent, teacher or instructor, or you just be tough on yourself. As a teen/adult it’s often hard to shut down social media at bedtime. But, if we think of the consequences of only four hours sleep it makes it worthwhile to get to bed now before scrolling through your Instagram feed for the umpteenth time today.
When used properly and healthily, practicing tough love is good. If, however, it‘s being used to manipulate, control, or for non–serious or non–harmful things like wanting your child to dress differently, tough love is bad. It serves to harm rather than help relationships. As a parent/teacher tough love serves to set and understand boundaries, open lines of communication, eliminating destructive behaviors, and as a means of self-improvement if they do indeed heed our advice.
The most important aspect on tough love is that it must come from a good place with good and positive intentions. It encourages the recipient to be accountable and responsible for their actions. Tough love is not about being rude or alienating friends and family. Yet, when people we care about engage in unsafe habits or practices, it often becomes necessary to remove
certain conveniences for them to change. Some people mistakenly believe that tough love only affects the people who are being restricted. This is not the case. In fact, tough love can be just as hard on the person giving it as the one who is receiving it.
– Written by Kumar Bandyo