Too many parents are trying to be “friends” with their teenagers instead of being a parent. The results are that we have too many unstable young adults who have difficulty facing life. They often have to turn to fast living, drugs, alcohol, sex or other escapes.
Tough love is not always saying what the teenager wants to hear, but saying what is best for them. Someone sent me the following article extolling the virtues of tough love.
“Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell them, as my mean ol’ parents told me: I loved you enough to ask where you were going, with whom, and what time you would be home.
“I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep. I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room, a job that should have taken 15 minutes. I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment and tears in my eyes. Children must learn that their parents are not perfect.
“I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when the penalties seemed harsh. Yet most of all, I loved you enough to say ‘no’ even when I knew you would hate me for it.
“Those were the most difficult battles of all. I am glad I came out on top, because eventually you won, too. Someday when your children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates parents, you will tell them.
“Were your parents mean? I know my parents were. We had the meanest mother and father in the whole world! While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches. You can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was different from what other kids had, too.
“Our parents insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You would think we were convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or less.
“We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to break the Child Labor Laws by making us work. We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, empty the trash and all sorts of cruel jobs. I think she would lie awake at night thinking of more things for us to do.
“She always insisted on us telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were teenagers, she could read our minds and had eyes in the back of her head. Then, life was really tough!
“Our parents would not let our friends just honk the horn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so she could meet them. While everyone else could date when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were 16. Because of our parents, we missed many things other kids experienced like being arrested for shoplifting, vandalizing another’s property or committing other crimes.
“Now that we have left home, we are all educated, honest adults. We are doing our best to be mean parents just like our parents were. I think that is what is wrong with the world today. It just does not have enough mean parents!”