When Tough Love Is Garbage

Here’s the funny thing about tantrums.

Adults throw temper tantrums every damn day. It’s this dirty little — yet poorly kept — secret that drives me up the wall. Up. The. Damn. Wall.

And I think you know what I mean. Adult temper tantrums can happen anywhere at anytime. They might berate customer service agents or even their own kids.

Road rage, anyone?

And grownups like to think they’re immune to tantrums since they’re not actually kicking and screaming in the middle of an aisle in Target. But they might as well be doing just that.

Yes, these are the people who want us to use tough love on our kids. And not just our kids. Tough love is supposedly applicable to every kind of loved one, including those battling addiction and mental illness.

But what are they even talking about?

There’s no single definition of “tough love” — it can cover anything from simply accepting life’s natural consequences to actively committing abuse.

Ultimately, proponents of tough love seem to be worried about other people raising soft kids who can’t handle the real world. They suggest that being too nice to children is a form of spoiling them.

Personally, I like Dr. Sears’ definition of spoiled children. He writes about how kids spoil just like fruit — when you leave them alone. So if you’re going to spoil a child, just give them meaningless “stuff” and leave them be.

Don’t want to spoil a child? Engage with them. Interact with them.

See? Not a lot of tough love required.

I’ve yet to figure out how tough love really benefits us any more than unconditional love plus age-appropriate learning and commonsense discipline. And regardless of where a person resides on the whole spectrum of tough love, I believe it typically does much more harm than good.

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