As a parent or grandparent raising teens today, it can be difficult to know when to hold on tightly and when to let go and allow them to make their own mistakes. Tough love has been a hot topic in the media lately
Tough Love and the Strength to Do It
As a parent or grandparent raising teens today, it can be difficult to know when to hold on tightly and when to let go and allow them to make their own mistakes. Tough love has been a hot topic in the media lately – the idea of loving your children, but allowing them to make their mistakes and learn from them, without bailing them out or saving them from the consequences. The idea behind this is that saving your teenager from the consequences of his or her actions only encourages further bad behavior in the future.
Tough love is not a path for everyone. It requires strength and determination on the part of the caregiver – a commitment on the part of all parties involved that the teen will have to deal with the consequences of their behavior. That means that if he gets arrested, he may have to spend a night in jail. If she gets pregnant, she’ll have to learn how to be a mom and go to school at the same time. You will have to stand by and watch as your child struggles to learn new skills. It truly is a lesson from the school of hard knocks, but for some individuals, tough love is the only way to learn.
As a caregiver or parent, you can provide advice, encouragement, and support while loving your teen through their poor choices – tough love is not about abandonment. It is, however, about not giving in, and not bailing them out. They have made their choices in life, and now they are dealing with their actions. Tough love is not an easy path for the caregiver or the teen, and is often chosen as a last resort, after many other possibilities have been tried and failed. You must be strong, and stand your ground.
If your teen is involved in drugs or alcohol, this path may be especially difficult. You will have to refrain from giving them money, as it may be used to buy drugs. Tough love is often harder on the caregiver than it is on the child, as they are constantly put on the spot. You will constantly be the “bad guy”, and have to refuse your child’s demands.
Most importantly, tough love is a learning experience. After teens or young adults have failed to learn through instruction, praise, reinforcement, or punishment while growing up, tough love allows them to learn from the most difficult instructor – life itself. Allowing your children or grandchildren to make their own choices and then requiring them to stick with those choices will make them strong, independent people. It will also test your strength, patience, and endurance. They don’t call it “tough” love for nothing! It’s emotionally demanding, and incredibly difficult for all parties involved. However, if this is the path you’ve chosen, stick with it! The rewards will be well worth the investment, in the end.