Tough Love Parenting Is A Strategy, A Support Group, The Subject Of Many Books And Seminars, And A Sound Way Of Looking At The Entire Parenting Process




“Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are."

Bernice Johnson Reagon (1942 - )



Tough Love Parenting is a parenting strategy developed to help parents with troubled, out-of-control teenagers.

As you have come to expect from this Website, we are never satisfied with looking at any aspect of parenting taken at face value.

We are only happy when we have explored new vistas, taken logical yet alternative viewpoints, and created helpful yet doable approaches to making any and every aspect of parenting practical and individual so that every parent can take something gained here and use it immediately for the betterment of their children and family.



So it is with this approach in mind that we are going to visit Tough Love Parenting, and actually have fun with, a Parenting Style or approach that is most commonly associated with Kids Fighting, troubled teens, and other forms of combat parenting.

The term ‘Tough Love’ was the outgrowth and brain child of Phyllis and David York, who founded the ‘Toughlove Network’ in 1979 after having had many struggles with their own willful and at the time disobedient and problematic daughter.

Out of this family's struggle to regain control of their own family and to help their wayward daughter (and to save their sanity), emerged the principles and guidelines of TOUGHLOVE ®, which is now a nonprofit international self-help program with more than 700 groups.

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This Tough Love movement has also spawned troubled-teens “Boot Camps” and “Wilderness Camps”, where parents sign control of their troubled youth over to a form of a surrogate parenting Drill Sergeant who will strive to force discipline and order into the lives of troubled youth who in all likelihood have never been disciplined or felt a sense of family order in their lives.

Proper parenting is tough and challenging, but refusing to parent leads to consequences that are even tougher and more permanent and detrimental to ourselves AND our children.

There are even Tough Love Courses offered that cost thousands of dollars A DAY for parents to attend. By this time in their family crisis mode these poor parents are so desperate and sick with worry and guilt that they pay these excessive fees, and perhaps they gain some benefits, but what lack-of-parenting problems that were years in the making can actually be fixed in a day or two, even if you are paying $5,000 a day to try and fix them?

I want to emphasize that this ‘Tough Love Parenting’ phrase, though now formalized into a Registered Trademark and official organization, with many books, seminars and parenting courses all inspired upon its basic principles of “Taking a Stand” with a way-ward child and then setting "Bottom Line" results that the child must accomplish to earn back parental trust and respect, with all of the above, this phrase of ‘Tough Love Parenting’ is still only a phrase.

“What’s in a name?” said Shakespeare, and I agree.

In other words, the term Tough Love Parenting seems to imply much more of a hard edge, do or die, ultimatum type connotation than perhaps is helpful in order to fully analyze the merits of the basic parenting philosophy behind the phrase, and the positive parenting merits it holds for proper parenting of all children; even normal, well-behaved children who are not out-of-control and are actually really great kids already.

You see, Tough Love Parenting involves common sense and universally beneficial parenting traits that can help any parent to properly parent any child, at any time and not just in times of teenage turmoil and family crisis. In fact, this form of parenting, consistently applied from the beginning of our parenting experience, can actually prevent most of this turmoil from happening.

An easy way to illustrate what I am saying about the parental universality of Tough Love Parenting is to take as an example the recent economic turmoil and worldwide recession that started around the latter part of 2007.

There were many causes to this economic downturn, but the vital lessons most American families (and perhaps families the world over) took away from this crisis were; spending was excessive, debt levels were too high, and lack of business ethics caused a lack of trust that caused many of the associated problems to be worse than they otherwise would have been.

Did we really need a Great Recession to finally realize that families should not spend more than they earn, should not take on crushing loads of family debt, and that business ethics always leads to more confidence and not less?

And that is exactly my point as pertains to the wisdom of NOT waiting for a family emergency before benefiting from Tough Love Parenting.

Setting Limits is also an important parental activity that should not delayed in order to bring family rules and expectations to bear in the life of a family as early as possible.

The parenting principles behind Tough Love Parenting are sound principles that can and should be used during all phases of parenting, and it is my contention that if done so properly, many of the out-of-control teenage crisis’ parents face today could be eliminated before they ever occur.

And all parents can agree that good prevention is much better than a good cure.

Lay down strong Parenting Roots early so all will benefit accordingly.




Crying Because I Won't Buy Her A Kiddie Pool Today - © Pink Sherbet Photography via "D Sharon Pruitt"



Many child psychologists and child counselors agree that the Authoritative Parenting Style most closely resembles the principles behind Tough Love Parenting.

In the following lists of the essential parenting traits associated with Tough Love Parenting, I advocate these principles being used on a constant basis for maximum parental effect.

However, I DO understand that many parents looking for information about Tough Love Parenting are WAY PAST that point with their out-of-control children, so these principles CAN be used for the first time and in a parental emergency situation also, and they are as follows:

Take A Stand With Your Children

Parents must express what they are and what they are NOT willing to stand for in their own families and with their own children. These Parental Expectations should start early in a child’s life, and gives to the child the healthy sense that rules and expectations are a common part of family life.

If done properly and consistently throughout a child’s life, a single, massive, and last-ditch Tough Love Parenting ”Stand” with your child should not be necessary. Growing up with appropriate, sensible and comforting family rules and limits will already be a natural, expected, and accepted part of family life for your children.

Creating A Series Of “Bottom Line” Results For Your Children To Achieve

As with ‘Taking a Stand’ above, if started early and practiced consistently throughout your parenting experience, your children will already know what is required of them and what the family rules and expectations regarding their behaviors are and will continue to be.

For many parents suffering with out-of-control teenagers, the reasons why your children are the way they are is due in part to never having had parental or family limits or rules or expectations placed on them. This lack of expectation and lack of regulation creates chaos in the home and a lack of security within children, who always thrive better and feel more protected living in an understandable world where they know and accept the rules and limits and expectations; where everyone has something to do and all do what is expected of them for the betterment of the whole.

Believe me when I say that some families really DO function on this level. And believe me when I say that it never comes easily and is never an accident of good luck or fate.

Make Children Responsible For Their Actions

One of the critical parenting weaknesses (or might I be so bold as to term it a parental failure?) is found in abundance both in the Permissive Parenting Style and also in the phenomenon known as Helicopter Parenting, and has its origins in the misguided parental desire to shield your child from every and all difficulty, strife, hardship, and even from the consequences of their poor choices and inappropriate actions.

How are children ever to be expected to grow and mature if they are constantly being shielded from the Effects of the poor decisions for which they are the Cause? Only by physical exercise, exertion, and resistance do we get healthy and shapely bodies, and the same holds true for how our children learn important lessons regarding personal responsibility and accountability for their actions.

Don’t allow your children to go without these important life lessons while they still enjoy the safety and comfort of an accepting and loving home. Parents who fail to Discipline and require responsibility for actions from their children are NOT doing their children any favors by their immature parental refusal to act like loving and responsible parents themselves.

Tough Love Parenting should be preferred over the almost inevitable result of society and the legal system having to be the ones who finally demonstrate to your child the meaning of Responsibility For One’s Actions.

Establish Open Lines Of Honest Communications

Parents can’t help to solve a problem unless they know that a problem exists. If children don’t communicate their problems with and to their parents then it is Always The Parent’s Fault.

(I am such a mean person, right?)

Or perhaps you would rather read some pretty Tough Love Parenting lies that won’t help you or your children in the long run?

The truth is that parents are the one’s running the family, and are hence responsible for creating an open and trusting environment for parent/child communication to occur in. Among the many rules I know about how to make this happen, I will share two of them with you now to get you started in the right direction.

- Start early and talk with your children often; more than you think you need to and certainly more than you would want to. When your young children speak to you, REALLY LISTEN (they know when you are just ‘going through the motions’ and then it will be YOUR FAULT they don’t want to talk to you in the future since you made it obvious that you are not truly interested in listening anyways)

- Set a family rule that you will not get angry with nor ever punish your children for anything they share with you regarding a problem they need help solving or a bad thing they did that they need your help in making it right. If your child knows and TRUSTS that it is safe for them to talk to you and get help from you with their problems, then when they have problems, they WILL come to you for help. Get angry with them just ONCE for them being open and honest with you per the family rule, and you can guess the results better than I can express them.




Maia’s Birthday - © Valentin.Ottone



Help Your Child To Feel True Self-Esteem

Tough Love Parenting requires that you be honest with your children about everything. This honesty needs to extend to who your children are and more importantly, who your children are not.

If my teenage son started to look or dress like one of the boys in the above picture, then I would know it is time to discuss with my son how his looks, style of clothing, and choice of friends all say a lot about who my son is now and who he is likely to be if he doesn't begin to live some higher and more dignified standards. Then my son would need to make some changes in his life for the better, whether he liked it or not.

Only by being honest and open about your child’s strengths and weaknesses (in a loving and empathetic way of course) can a parent hope to give their children a true and accurate, and hence a personally beneficial and usable Self-Esteem.

It is interesting to note that researchers have discovered the one group of people who have the highest measureable rate of self-esteem to be the men in prison.

Why would that be? Does that mean that self-esteem is a bad thing and that it leads people straight to prison?

Well, no. But what it does mean is that True Self-Esteem must be based on an accurate and honest assessment of whom we really are. We can’t all be good at everything, but those who have a warped sense of self because they were always told that they were great at everything and could do no wrong, often go out into life believing this lie, and it often leads to big trouble when their fantasy meets reality.

True and useful self-esteem needs to be based on behaviors and accomplishments, not just the empty words of a negligent parent who didn’t have the Tough Love Parenting needed to tell their child the truth and to help them make the most of things from that point forward.

The way I see it, Tough Love Parenting is simply proper parenting.

It is a way of life and not a last-ditch resort or magic cure-all when all else has failed (which usually is code for parents having failed to take the time, interest, and effort to BE PARENTS to their children while there was still the time and opportunity to have made a difference in their children’s lives).

That being said, it is honestly NEVER too late to wake up to your parental duty and worth, and to then take the time and make the commitment and start to be a caring, effective and dynamic parent. Never allow the mistakes of your past to stop you from doing the good in the present that will help you and your family to enjoy a brighter and better future!

If you agree with the recommendations given above; taking a firm yet positive stand with you children, demanding measurable results and requiring responsibility from your children, and in keeping open lines of communication that results in true and lasting positive parent/child relationships, we recommend this Simple, Step-by-Step Program for parents to help their children in ways they never imagined possible. This is the only program of its kind that we recommend because it works. You can try it as part of a Free Offer today!

It can’t hurt to try it for free, and it just may be the additional tough love parenting help you’ve been looking for.

Since the foundations for our character are laid before the age of five, it is better to start early to be a consistent force and example for good in your children’s life. If that didn’t happen in your particular case, then it is always better late than never as the old saying goes.



Tough Love Parenting is to balance warmth with discipline, to allow our children to suffer or conversely to enjoy the consequences of their actions, and to set appropriate rules and expectations, to keep channels of communication open, honest, and safe, and to always lead by example in all that we do in the realm of parenting.

Proper parenting is to be our best selves for the ones we love and serve through all things parenting. Not an easy task, but one we can strive for as we strive to practice Tough Love Parenting as the consistently decent and right thing to do .





There is a lot more parenting wisdom to share. Here is another Tough Love Parenting thought: Though this parenting philosophy is most often associated with parenting out-of-control teenagers, it should rightly be viewed (as detailed in its larger and more humane aspects within this web page) as a wise and loving long-term approach to parenting our children from toddlers on up in order to set bounds and limits and expectations for our children so they can feel loved and protected and properly parented at any time, for any reason, over and over again.




One mother’s Tough Love Parenting attitude towards her paralyzed son, what she herself called her “ruthless insistence”, helped motivate and liberate her son to be largely independent and fully reunited with the family he loves.



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