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Tough Love

By Holly Brown, LMFT

When I was growing up, I heard a lot about tough love.  It wasn’t actually in reference to me, or to my sister; it was about my mother’s best friend, who was trying to practice “tough love” with her promiscuous, drug abusing, disrespectful teenage daughter.

The mother went to meetings where she was called an “enabler” of her daughter’s behavior, and was told that the only way to fix the problem was to hold a firm line: If the daughter didn’t follow the rules, she lost all family support.  She needed to suffer the consequences of her actions.  It was the only way she’d learn.

The problem is, tough love didn’t feel much like love–to the daughter, or the mother.  The suffering went on for years, ceaselessly.  But maybe it would have been even worse without that guiding philosophy.  What are the alternatives, anyway?

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Tough Love

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