Tough Love – Parenting Teens (and Helping Loved Ones)

tough-loveThe term tough love may not be all that familiar these days. Many years ago, the term tough love indicated a need for an individual to exude a stern, firm, and sometimes harsh demeanor toward a loved one. Was this so that the individual could be abusive? Most certainly not – tough love has the best interests of a loved one at heart.

Tough love may not be all that well known these days, but it is making a comeback. It is a method of loving someone, but not enabling them. Putting up healthy boundaries and holding them responsible for the consequences of their actions are just two examples of tough love. Tough love is used in many ways and for many individuals.

Parents of Teenagers

A teenager has to struggle through the rite of passage from puberty, through the teen years, and right into adulthood. And right there suffering with them, are their parents.

We all know teenagers that have pulled a few stunts here and there. This may even bring back memories of a few we pulled ourselves. We all probably know someone who has a child (or maybe they even did this themselves when they were a teen) who took the family car out for a spin without anybody knowing about it.

Tough love comes into play when you make your teens accountable for their actions. In the example of taking the car out, one appropriate scenario is to hold off on allowing them drivers’ education or their own car longer than anticipated.

Another, more extreme example, if your teen is experimenting with alcohol or not obeying curfew is to have them go and live elsewhere until they choose to straighten themselves out. Offer help in the form of support groups and counseling, of course, but if all else fails, having them go elsewhere to a facility is considered tough love at its strongest.

Loved Ones with Addictions

For loved ones with addictions, tough love can be brutal. There are many support groups that will prepare you for dealing with this:

  • Drug rehabilitation centers
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Counseling
  • School counseling
  • Group therapy

These are all ways to find and discover more about tough love for loved ones with addictions.

Sometimes the best and first step to using tough love with a loved one – no matter the scenario – is to stop enabling them, let go, and seek the help that both you and they need.

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