Tough Love is Tough to Give by The GO Mom
As I stood in the living room of an acquaintance, I was asked a question which took me by surprise. The question was, "My daughter is charging on my credit cards without permission and living an ungodly life, what should I do?"
I was taken aback by the question, as I was aware that the daughter was moving back home. It concerned me that the mom was allowing the daughter to move home in light of her unchanged behavior.
As a reader I know you are not aware of the family's situation in its entirety, but it's not pretty. A divorce years before caused confidence problems for the mom. Being friends with her daughter became more important than being the parent. The daughter, now in college, had a history of yielding to temptation that showed a lack of moral fortitude and character and, unfortunately, continues to be consumed with self.
I know that many will say, "Well, all teenagers are consumed with self." Yes, that is true to some degree, but it most certainly does not have to be that way. I personally have three teenage boys who are respectful and responsible young men who have a healthy fear of bad behavior and the consequences that follow.
Because of the mom's failure to establish boundaries for her daughter and the fact that the mom has shielded many of the negative consequences her daughter could have learned from; the daughter is and will continue to flounder in a mindset that will negatively affect her for the rest of her life.
The advice that I offered was to not allow the daughter to come back in the home if she could not follow the rules of the household. While this seemed like a common sense answer to me, the mom was burdened regarding where her daughter would live and what would happen to her. Once again I was taken aback; her mom was more concerned about where her daughter would live, rather than the woman she currently is or might become. I then realized that the mom had become an "enabler" to the bad behavior of her daughter. For years, the mom had been saving her daughter from the negative consequences associated with bad decisions and rarely imposed any punishment of her own. Unknowingly, this dear mom taught her daughter to disrespect authority and shielded her from feeling the painful sting of wrong decisions.
I encouraged the mom to confront her daughter's ungodly behavior and to establish and effectively communicate clear boundaries associated with clear consequences. This may ultimately include kicking her out of the home if she continues to be disrespectful and disobedient. This is real love, love I refer to as "tough love."
Unfortunately, the damage was done. The mom was in this twisted whirlwind of feeling guilty for what she took credit for causing. The daughter was now empowered knowing that her mom would overlook her sin. It was truly a mess and it broke my heart to witness it.
As a Professional Organizer and Family Coach, I deal with issues like this more often than you might realize. I strongly believe the disillusionment of the family has become a blight to America and is the principal catalyst causing mental duress and other associated issues. The lack of a committed focus on establishing firm but loving moral values and rules in the home is a serious detriment to one's overall mental wellness and joy. This truth simply cannot be overstated. In fact, there was a recent article Wednesday, July 28, 2010, in the Los Angeles Times titled, "One in five Californians say they need mental health care."
That is staggering!
Knowing many of my readers are young moms, allow me to encourage you to first and foremost keep your marriage strong. It is imperative to understand love is not an emotion or a feeling; it is a decision to determine to love someone even when they are unlovable. Both individuals coming into the marriage need to live this way.
Continuing, your children or teenagers' attitude is the aroma of their heart. If their attitude stinks, know full well that something is wrong with their heart. So, protect their hearts from a negative perspective on marriage. Communicate to your children that marriage is a covenant relationship designed to last forever. While your marriage may not have worked out as you hoped; you need to maintain a healthy respect for the marriage relationship. This will insure the aroma of your children's hearts remains sweet toward the sanctity of marriage.
Lastly, do not be an "enabler" for bad behavior. Establish boundaries, maintain structure, be consistent and insure your moral values are highly regarded in your home. This should be done even when it pains you to follow through with the punishment you have communicated your children will receive when they are disrespectful or disobedient towards you. It is important for moms to remember; fair or not, you must "step up to the plate" even if the father "steps out on the family."
Lorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and founder and owner of "Get Organized!" "Get Organized!" is a professional organizing company in the Dallas, Texas area. "Get Organized!" specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes as well as implementing systems in the home for better family management.
A popular media guest, Lorraine has appeared on Dallas' two top morning television shows: Good Morning Texas and Good Day Fox, and has been featured on various radio outlets. She has been hallmarked in many local, regional, and national print and online magazines, such as the Dallas Morning News, The North Texas Kids Magazine, SheKnows.com, and Daily Candy Kids. To get more helpful advice from Lorraine, visit her blog Get Organized!