Written by cycleguy on October 21st, 2014

I had a whirlwind day yesterday. It started out to sane (whatever that means) but then became hectic. Study time (sane). Staff meeting (start of the hectic). Impromptu meeting with some moms over a home school choir question. Interruptions from visitors. Lunch with Jo (brief respite). Assorted mini-meetings then a trip to visit someone. (major hectic). Phone calls. Bed.

It was that visit with someone which has led me to do this short post with a question. It is over something we call Tough Love. We see it often.

A wife with her husband (or visa versa).

A parent with a child.

A teacher with a student.

A pastor with a parishioner.

A friend with a friend.

A coach with a player

Tough love is defined (my definition) as taking the hard course when there seems to be no other recourse. It is when one person has to take a tough stance against the foolishness of another. Against the laziness of another. Against the blatant rebellion of another.

I’m sure you have heard of it. I’m sure you have probably used it or had it used on you. But here is my question:

When does tough love need to be practiced? When is that line developed which should not be crossed? In other words, how much should a parent take? When does the spouse demonstrate tough love? Get my point?

So the question is for you. I encouraged a tough love approach in my visit. It is long overdo. And here is something else to consider: the person who is practicing tough love needs to know it may backfire.

So, if you don’t mind, how about answering the questions highlighted above. Thanks.


11 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jeff says:

    “Tough Love” obviously comes in many different degrees on many different levels of infractions. As a parent their are lines that never get crossed. There is a responsibility to be met and a firmness required to communicate the boundaries. And consequences if those boundaries are challenged. I don’t think a parent needs to “take” anything. This, I think, applies wherever there is responsibility required. (Team Coach/Player)(Teacher/Student)or similar organization vs. individual needs.
    As for adult to adult it is simply a matter of giving an opinion. They can take it or leave it.
    The only thing I know about spouses is that I don’t care to have one. I’ll leave that with others to decide.

    • cycleguy says:

      Great advice Jeff! I agree on your parent/child comment, especially on line that never get crossed and a parents doesn’t have to “take” anything. Thanks

  2. Daniel says:

    Tough question, but it depends on the situation and the state of the other person.

  3. Great questions. I think part of the problem is that too many of us are not honest with ourselves first. We don’t admit to ourselves how a situation should be handled. Then we end up too passive or aggressive in how we handle it. In either way, we end up not being honest with the person in the situation.

  4. Pam says:

    Tough love; tough question. Dick and I have had to exercise tough love with both of our kids and it wasn’t easy, but it was right and good and produced good results. Knowing when is the tough part. Sometimes talking to a fellow Christian helps because they have the advantage of being able to take a step back from the emotional aspect of the problem and see things from a perspective that we are blind to.

    • cycleguy says:

      I feel for any parent who has to go through that Pam. Having to occasionally disciplining a child is nowhere near as traumatic as having to take tough measures to make or teach a point. Glad it turned out well for you.

  5. And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 2 Corinthians 5:18

    Tough love is perhaps a poor description for a heart that seeks to help restore another heart…perhaps Tender Love would be better since it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. As a parent, husband, brother, pastor, I want my love to be as consistent as His

    But to answer the question(s)…In the light of my above thoughts…it is always necessary to confront, exhort (which means “to call near”) and remind people of truth. We can easily “cross a line” by NOT doing so and allowing people to suffer form their sin/choices/decisions.

    It is kind to show people the truth of God’s Word and the freedom that comes form obeying it. We do it with grace and humbleness, always pointing to the door of reconciliation. Of course, people have to decide to walk through that door.

    Just my two cents brother…facing an issue like this now, so a timely post!

    • cycleguy says:

      Have to admit I never thought of it that way Jay. Calling it tender love is a different take on it. I also agree about the necessity to confront, exhort, etc. Thanks for your .02 worth and hope your situation works out well.

  6. Ceil says:

    Hi Bill! ‘Tough love’ is still love. It just looks different. We think of love as balloons, picnics and long walks. But boots on the ground love can sure look different than that.

    I think tough love is when someone draws a line in the sand and says “I can’t take this anymore. Here is what I can do, and can’t do. Anymore than that, and I will lose myself, and I will not do that.”

    It’s a hard decision in every single case. We never want to give up, or say ‘it’s over.’ I think if we focus on the behavior that has to go, we’ll love the person. We can be free to not love the behavior.
    Sounds like a VERY tough day!