As a parent, you want what is best for your children and you try to do the best job you know how in raising them. The fact is, as your children grow up, you can’t control every aspect of their lives. Some children go down the wrong path and become addicted to drugs or alcohol or are generally out of control. One method that parents turn to is tough love.
Tough love is a philosophy, rooted in psychology, but it is also a trademarked program founded in 1979 by family therapists Phyllis and David York. Having an out-of-control daughter themselves, they tried various methods to help their daughter, but nothing worked. The last straw was when the police arrested the Yorks’ daughter for armed robbery. They decided that they would not tolerate a criminal in their home, according to the 4 Troubled Teens website. This is how the tough love program began.
The Tough Love Program
The tough love program teaches parents how to break the cycle of helplessness that can happen when a teenager is out of control. Parents attend structured meetings where they share their issue with the group and come up with a “stand,” a goal and a plan to achieve the goal. An example of a stand would be insisting that your teen attend school every day. A way to achieve this goal might be to take away your teen’s cell phone until she has gone to school for 30 consecutive days, according to the 4 Troubled Teens website. Members in tough love meet once a week and provide support to other members during the week if needed.
A Balanced Approach
Although tough love can work for some families, it can do harm if it is handled wrong, according to ABC World News. Some teens who have a substance abuse problem may run away if they are confronted with tough love, says Richard Rawson of the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs. A balanced approach is what typically works. Parents should insist that the addict stop using and get treatment, for example, but the family should also be supportive, according to ABC World News.
It could be taking matters too far when tough love comes down to severing ties with your child. Families are usually better off staying connected, according to ABC World News. But, if your teen is stealing from you or hurting you or your family, then you may have to cut him off. This action is mainly to help you and the rest of your family and may not help your troubled teen. In fact, cutting him off from the family could speed his self-destruction, according to Psychology Today.
If you have a troubled teen who is not harming anyone in the family, you may have more success using empathetic and supportive methods, according to Psychology Today. Community Reinforcement and Family Training, otherwise known as the CRAFT program, is an alternate to tough love that uses rewards to encourage positive behaviors.
- rest teen image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com