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What is Though Love?
Some History of the Term “Tough Love”
Tough Love is an expression that is used in regards to one person treating another person in a strict, firm, consistent, yet loving manner with the intent of helping that individual in the long run. Bill Milliken apparently took claim of this expression in his 1968 book “Tough Love”.1
The term tough love is often thought of in reference to parent/child relationships. However tough love can be applied in most any relationship where love is present (parental, spousal, friendship, ext…).
Qualifications Necessary to Apply Tough Love
Love is a prerequisite necessary in order to apply tough love. In most cases tough love is administered to individuals by a man or woman who truly loves them on a personal level.
Nonetheless tough love can be put in to operation by a person who simply loves the human race as a whole.
For example, a teacher may not love her student on a personal level though she cares about their future and their welfare. Her loving nature and consideration for her students success makes her capable of applying tough love unto her student.
Always be Consistent with Tough Love
Consistency is an important aspect in the success of tough love. When an individual feels that a situation calls for tough love it is crucial that they follow through with the tough love that they administer.
The ultimate goal is for the individual receiving the tough love to learn that there are natural consequences as a result of their actions and behaviors.
Tough Love is Loving yet Firm
Applying tough love with a loving yet firm technique is the most effective avenue to take. An example of the combined parental efforts of loving yet firm would be when a father allows his teenage son to spend a night in jail for driving under the influence. Out of the loving kindness of his heart the teenager’s father allowed him to learn that there are natural consequences he will have to go through if he continues to drink and drive.
Applying Tough Love out of Anger
When tough love is applied out of anger it no longer can be defined as tough love; it is now deemed as discipline, punishment, or even in some cases abuse. To disengage from the act of tough love can also be seen as enabling.
Without tough love children commonly do not learn what natural consequences entail. Indulgence and/or neglect are common amongst children who do not have the influence of tough love in their lives.
Tough love is always administered with the intent to improve upon the other person’s life, situation, choices, behavior, and actions. It is never with the intent to harm.
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1Milliken, B. (1968). Tough Love.