Tough love parenting for the benefit of society

Parents today frequently are forced to apply Photo: Air Force Cadets graduate (AP)

MISSOURI, April 18, 2013 – “Tough love” is an excellent description for decisions that parents must make today. Because of the decline of our society, parents are forced to apply this principle more frequently than in the past, on a wide variety of issues.

As difficult as it is, parents of today must dispense that tough love for the sake of not only their children but also society as a whole.

Tough love is not easy for parents, but it is worth what it produces. 

Take for example, this story of a man and his son. The son was blessed with natural athletic and intellectual abilities. After passing a barrage of physical and mental tests, he was accepted into the Air Force Officer Training program.

One night, the father received a call from his son. The son begged the father to rescue him from the program. He explained “they are giving me too many things to learn,” “they have me up in the middle of the night doing training,” and “the pressure is too great… Dad, get me out of this torment.”

The father listened very closely, and became sympathetic to his son’s plea for intervention and escape from this supposed “hell” on earth.

The father almost agreed to save his son, but something intervened. Instead, the father said the following, “What in the heck is this all about! You’re an athlete, and you are totally smart and what do I get but this call of a quitter. Well, son, I want you to stick it out and give it the very best. How can this be so rough when tens of thousands have gone through this training before you arrived?” He told his son he was a winner, and wanted him to stick it out and try his hardest. That, he explained, was all anybody wanted from his son: his best effort.

Graduation came and the proud family stood on the Air Force parade grounds watching all the young and beautiful people receiving their commissions as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force. The son not only graduated, but graduated first in his class.

Tough love for that father meant not sleeping that night after the phone call with his son. It meant praying to the Almighty to give his son the strength and the wisdom to do what he was capable of.

The son learned that by facing the trials of the training, he could also face future trials and tribulations that we all encounter in life. This was foundational in his maturing as a human being.

Today, parents are faced with many tough love decisions, about their children’s health such as not smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or practicing promiscuity. Sometimes it has to do with their attitudes towards school and friends, or issues regarding driving the car, or using obscene language. The area of entertainment as a whole is huge because of the impact the media has on the minds of children.

Parents must stand as the role models for children, and not leave that role to the entertainment industry or some of our political leaders. This requires knowing the friends of your children looking into their social activities to help them avoid peer pressure.

Tough love is a full-time job for both parents.

Tough love is just another action that shows you really love and care for your child. This is more important than giving material things, which can serve as poor substitutes for love from parents. Involved, difficult parenting shows you care enough to provide a proper direction for their path in life.

We are blessed to be parents and we must accept our responsibilities as full-time parents in providing direction and love, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Sometimes “tough love” is harder on the parents than on the child. But it is one of the best things we can do for our children.


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Charles Vandegriff, Sr.

Charles is a fifty-four-year career in technology retiring at the directors level from three major corporations. Followed by three-plus years as a free-lance columnist, published three books, over three hundred speeches to senior organizations, radio interviews, one television commercial and finally married for sixty-five years, four children, seven grandchildren and thirteen great grand children. 

Charles is also a Navy veteran.

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