I have never been a person who believed in tough love. I thought it was a way for the people that used it to feel superior and better than us. I felt that alcoholics and addicts had a hard enough time without people making them feel even worse. I thought what we needed was compassion and understanding. I still feel that we could use some compassion. People who have cancer don’t get treated with tough love. We have a disease too. It is about the age old question of whether we have a choice to be alcoholics or not. I learned a lesson last week about tough love and while I don’t totally embrace it, I do think there are times when it can be useful.
God has blessed me with two wonderful daughters. The oldest one is more like her father and hasn’t had the struggles the younger one has had. The youngest one is more like me emotionally and she is a recovering addict like me. Her struggles really started in kindergarten. She was always emotional and often the other girls left her out. I started at that point to fix everything in her life. I never let her take the knocks on her own and that behavior continued in adulthood. I would run over anyone that didn’t give her what she wanted. I have watched countless times as her bad decisions made her take roads that ended no where. I spoiled her and she grew up thinking that the only important thing was whatever she wanted at any given time. She recently moved back in with her stepfather and me. As usual it was all about her and what she wanted. We had made a list of rules for her and she broke everyone of them to my husband’s consternation. The difference is that I suddenly saw her for what she was. It was like a light had gone off in my head. I saw how I had made her the way she was by never letting her fall and pick herself up. I had never taught her the word no and whenever she heard it her temper flared. She didn’t have a job but then why should she; I took care of her financially when she had no money. She is 29 years old and can’t take care of herself as far as money is concerned. She had never learned to follow rules because I never enforced them with her.
I realized that it was time to be a mother to her. I told her that she would have to follow the rules if she wanted to live with us. She needed to work and pay her own way. The thing is, I meant every word I said and was prepared to enforce it. At first she was angry and said that we couldn’t throw her out without legally evicting her. I knew that I would evict her and if need be she would have to live in her car.
I feel free and I know I am being a better mother. We do our children no favors if we don’t prepare them for real life. She has to pick up her own pieces and learn from them. In this case tough love worked and it was the best way. I guess for me tough love will be a case by case basis.