Have you ever made your kids do something that they really didn’t want to do, even though it killed you to do it?
The first thought that pops in my mind, is that dreaded, “all night cry.” The night where you have finally reached your limit of jumping up to find a cute baby that just wants to play or be held… You went in the room, told the baby that you loved them, then, left them there… to cry it out, while you sat on the other side of the door, crying it out with them.
According to the internet, the term “tough love” made it’s debut in 1977. Any phrase with the word “tough” in it, just doesn’t sound good… tough crowd? tough luck? tough meat?…You get the point. It takes a word that otherwise would be wonderful all by itself, and makes it…tough. In the world of parenting, it can mean almost unbearable.
I had to make my kids do a couple of things this past week that they had no intentions of doing on their own. All of my children are grown, or almost grown, so I can’t implement the handy dandy, “because I said so” closing argument. They are old enough to reason, understand, and have the opportunity to submit peacefully with full disclosure. Don’t get me wrong, we certainly allow for discussion, but disrespect is punishable by law. Anyway, it is always a tough situation when these times come around.
Why do we do it? I don’t mean to sound like a cliché’ but it really does hurt us more than it hurts them. It breaks my heart to see one of my kids forced into doing anything, especially when I know it is for their own growth and good. I’ve come to the conclusion though, it’s just not the pain of seeing them upset, but it’s the “forcing” that is the heart breaker…it’s the desire to want them to trust us and seeing the lack thereof. Wouldn’t it be fabulous, if every good thing we wanted our kids to do, they agreed, and went forth with a smile and a grateful heart? I’d have had a lot more kids…
I don’t mean to write another post about discipline, but “tough love” falls under that category. When you follow through in those times that seem the hardest, it is discipline, but discipline more for the parent then the child.
Scripture has much to say about it too; in one of many places we see a great section in Hebrews 12:5-11
5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
I can only imagine how much it grieves our Father in Heaven to “tough love” us. He loves us so much, he provided a way for all of our sins to be forgiven, but He did not take away the consequences of those messes. We must always keep that in mind, not only for our children, but for us as parents.
I have hope in the possibility that my offspring will be grateful someday. If not, I’ve at least given them plenty of subject matter for their therapy sessions. Really.