In marriage and family counselling, there is a term we use. It is called “tough love.” By this we mean a situation, where you love your spouse or child or sibling very well, but you still need to take some tough disciplinary actions that are meant to make the person have a sense of what is right and wrong. For example, my first cousin would not have died, if her husband had used tough love. She was pregnant and insisted on giving birth to her baby in a prayer house instead of a hospital. Some days after delivery, she bled to death in the prayer house. According to her husband, he prevailed on her to be taken to the hospital, but she refused. My wife Carol and I were of the view that her husband was too soft. We felt he should have applied “tough love” by lovingly bundling her to the hospital. When a wife also sees that her husband will get into serious trouble due to an act of omission or commission, she can also lovingly apply the principle of tough love. Now, how does it apply to parenting our children?
Most times when children want to get a particular thing from their parents, they cry, scream, sob, throw tantrums, slap and hit their parents continuously and sometimes isolate themselves in a corner. Well, it is a common trait for all children to always ask and demand things endlessly from their parents. When a child throws away spoons or breaks household things because he or she has been denied a particular thing, parents should not allow such a child grow up in that manner.
Children think that they will always have whatever they ask their parents. Parents can apply “tough love”by saying an emphatic NO to a child, who is crying and demanding something. As a parent, you should know that it is not everything that children ask for that you give to them. Whenever you give a child something because he/she is crying, you are simply teaching the child the formula of getting things from you and they will grow up with that mindset. As “little dictators,” they try in a subtle way to command you to do whatever they want you to do. Crying, throwing tantrums and other antics are some of the ways they get you to do what they want.
Some parents borrow another child’s toy for their child simply because their child says he wants it and he starts crying. Other parents collect such things as biscuits or sweets on credit because their children have seen another child enjoying it. This is covetousness at its fledgling level. By the time the child grows up to become a full grown adult, he or she will go to any length to get anything, if they are not corrected.
Statements like “he will cry if I don’t give it to him,” “she will not allow me to rest, if I don’t give her the biscuits,” etc are untrue. You are only being weak as a parent. We are not saying parents should deprive their children gifts, but the point is that they should not always be cowed by the menace of the child’s subtle manipulative tactics of crying, sobbing and braking household things. This is when you should deploy “tough love” by saying a strong NO. Be tough in a loving way. Our spouses and our children should be made to have a sense of what is right and wrong.
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