For the last thirty years we've heard a lot of stories bandied about with the phrase "tough love". What is it? How much is too tough? And when is it appropriate?
There are extreme examples of tough love. A parent beats a child and declares that they're doing it in the name of "tough love". That's not tough love. That's child abuse. When I think of tough love, I think of that phrase, Just Say No!
Too often in today's world, no one says NO. No one! In a gimme, gimme culture the time must come when someone finally says, "No." No, you may not go there. No, you may not have that. No, I won't buy you the latest electronics or car even if everyone else has one. Because if we don't ever teach our children that sometimes the answer is going to be "No", they never learn how to deal with that.
As our kids grow into adults, that lesson becomes more important. It sounds obvious, but an amazing number of parents don't get it. The time will come when your child cannot have everything they want. You will not be able to provide everything they want. And when that time comes, it might not be pretty.
We live in a bankrupt culture where no one know how to delay gratification. Want it? Charge it. Except now, we've run out of charge cards, bank loans, and all those other strategies that we used to acquire a bunch of stuff we really didn't need. As a society we haven't learned the value and meaning of "no".
I confess that I was late in learning this lesson. Like many parents in my generation who did without "things" when growing up, my husband and I truly wanted to provide those things for our children. It didn't occur to us that we weren't doing them any favors. They had tough lessons to learn as young adults when we could no longer help them. We as parents had tough lessons to learn, too. We had to learn to step back and say no. How much easier it would have been if we had learned our lesson sooner.