Having a rebellious teenager is one of the worst nightmares of parents. Most kids who reach their teenage years attempt to make their own decisions and try to get away from sticky situations no matter how destructive they may be. Parents fear about what their teens do in and out of the house, and these things take a toll on them, causing them much stress and anxiety.
On the other hand, some parents opt for the opposite. They tend to disregard the danger signs, hoping that it’s just a stage that their child is going through, that they will outgrow them in no time, finding out too late that they’ve been raising an alcoholic or a drug addict without them knowing it! They realize too late that the challenges they are facing with their teen are now bigger than their own.
Can You Be Tough For Your Kids?
“Rebellion in teens can be secretive or obvious depending on the personality of the teenager and the circumstances,” says Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC. Every parent wants the best for their teens, and they know that if you want what’s best for them, they would have to be disciplined in a way that would encourage them to do what is right. But what if talking it out and trying the calm ways just won’t do it for them? What if they never learn the easy way? Is tough love as effective as studies suggest? And can parents even do it?
“In order to figure out what they value, many teens actively reject their parents and their parent’s values.” Evan Kimble, LMHC said. When your teen has resorted to drugs or alcohol, there is no better way to help him but to establish the fact that there is no way you are tolerating their behavior and that you CANNOT and WILL NOT allow them to destroy their lives just like that. Before deciding to bring them to therapy or rehab, discipline them first. Show them that tough love means loving them yet enforcing hard rules and boundaries for them because they are what’s best for them.
What Tough Love Is NOT
It does not mean kicking your teens out of your home because they broke the rules. It only means they’d need to stay IN the house to learn the lesson of responsibility. It doesn’t mean shaming your teen in front of others when he does something wrong, but it means having a hard talk about what he has done on himself and on others and helping him discern wrong from right. Ultimately, it doesn’t mean hurting them physically, but it does mean not being able to use the car or go to his friend’s party because he has to learn his lesson well.
What Tough Love Is
Tough love advocates firm discipline, one that encourages your teen to do better and be better. It lets your teen still see how much you love him despite the tough consequences. Tough love also enables you as parents to guide your teen while giving him the freedom – and the respect – he needs. Remember, “Our teens are taught just by observing their world that they need one too, and they get that message very early on.” A reminder from Susie Raskin MA, LMHC.
Tough love indeed creates a safe and healthy haven for your teen and your family as well. And it practices you to take a stand to your obligation as parents, in turn helping your teen to take a stand for himself in a positive way. It challenges him to be a better person for himself and for others because he sees the love from you and he sees that you only want him to be the best that he can be.