Raising responsible children requires tough-love-parents. Not ordinary-love-parents. Ordinary parental love will help a child whenever there is trouble. Ordinary parental love will bail a child out whenever she is stuck in a difficult situation. Ordinary parental love strives to make everything better. Ordinary parental love says ‘yes’ too easily.
Tough-love-parents on the other hand, say ‘no’. Tough-love-parents stand back at times so that the child can suffer the consequences of her bad choice, so that she can learn a lesson. Tough-love-parents are rare these days. Tough-love-parents are what this world needs. We are so kind to our children, that we end up being cruel. We are cruel in not preparing them for the real world. We are cruel by shielding them for too long. We are cruel by bailing them out too often, too easily. In the process of our kindness, they never learn to be responsible.
As an example: a few years ago, my youngest went to sleep over at a friend the day before a dance performance. I could not attend the performance due to work. She phoned me up that night at 23h30 to tell me she only packed one shoe. What did I do? I got into my car in my pjs and took her the other shoe. Looking back now, I can think of many such examples with both my daughters. And in all of those situations, I bailed them out. I took them whatever they forgot. I changed my plans to fit in with the plans they made but forgot to tell me about. The result? They are young adults and nowhere near ready for the adult world. They still forget things. They still don’t plan ahead. They know their mother will fix whatever goes wrong. They know their mother will bail them out.
Surprise surprise. I might not have done all the right things up till now. I may have been far too soft up till now. But for the last year or three that they will still live in our house, there will be no more bailing out! There will only be tough love!
If they don’t make arrangements soon enough, they won’t get to go where or do what they planned. They have to learn to consider other people, for now, their parents. If they don’t learn that now, they will end up as selfish females that will not consider their husbands one day.
If they forget things at home, they will have to get along without it. I will not bring it to them. In a couple of years they will be mothers, who have to raise children. They will need to be responsible then. A mommy cannot forget to pack vital supplies for a baby. They can practice now with schoolbooks, clothes etc. I am not bailing them out anymore. If she packs one shoe, she can wear just one shoe or go barefoot.
I sincerely regret not being a tough-love-mother up till now. But I still have a bit of time left. And trust me, in this time that is left, I WILL be a mother that gives tough-love. Not because I want to be mean, but because I love them.
My children are in desperate need of tough-love. I know they won’t agree with me now. I also know that after a while, maybe a looooong while, they will thank me for this decision. Right now they are two irresponsible, selfish little brats. In a couple of years, I know in my heart, they will be responsible young adults who will add value to society at large. They just need a bit of tough love to let the Godly women in them emerge.
And tough-love they will get.