I have no professional or other credentials to talk about the concept of “tough love.” I’ve not read any books or articles about it, but I have come across a lot of people who claim to have expertise in the area. Why then am I writing about it? The answer is that the concept troubles me, and I’m seeking my readers help.
I understand the difficulties that parenting and addiction present, and I’ve heard the cries from parents, spouses, siblings, and friends who ask God, friends, and family, “What do I do?” There are several biblical stories in the Hebrew scriptures where God certainly engaged in what I would call “tough love” with his chosen people. There are a few passages where Jesus seems to want to back off a healing or a miracle. I wonder in any of those untold stories Jesus faced the difficult and painful choice of saying, “No, I won’t help you any more.”
Tough love has succeeded and it has failed with what seems to be no rhyme or reason. Does a mother ever stop loving a son or a daughter? I would say very seldom. Does a brother get fed up with a siblings behavior and addiction and say, “no more?” But that doesn’t mean that love goes away. There are as many instances of unsolvable relationships as there are stars in the sky.
So what does one do when a person thinks that the only answer is some form of “tough love?”
By the way, I don’t ask these questions for myself. One benefit of reaching my age is we can give advise, but we are past facing these issues ourselves. We have already been successful facing such situations or more often than not, we “screwed it up” but lived to either forget it happened or it worked itself out without our help or intervention.
What I think I know is that “love” must dominate the “tough.” I also know there are people who are professionals who are available to guide one, but you must be careful in seeking their advice to make sure that “love” dominates their recommendations.
What do you think?