Us caregiver’s take on the role of care-giving because we have to, because we want to, but most of all because we love someone who needs us to fulfill this role.

I’m going to dive right in and state that sometimes I want to bang my head on the keyboard when I see or hear another reference to ‘tough love’ like it is something to be shunned and ashamed of. The idea that by practicing ‘tough love’, one is not practicing ‘unconditional love’.

Love is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection.

Tough love is defined as the promotion of a persons welfare, especially that of an addict, child or (insert name/relationship) by enforcing certain constraints on them (boundaries) or requiring them to take responsibility for their actions. This definition doesn’t say that it is turning one’s back on a loved one or withholding love from said loved one.

Unconditional love seems to be much harder to define. It is caring about the happiness of another person without conditions. Love is unconditional when it endures despite unfavorable circumstances. No where does it say that one needs to do this at the expense of oneself.

I believe that one can do both. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Is it necessary? I think so.

I love both of my children with all of my heart and soul. No matter what they do or where they are, I will love them. When the chips are down, I am there for them. For me this is unconditional love.

I also try to practice tough love. For me this means trying to teach boundaries and how to treat people with respect. To take responsibility for one’s choices as best one can. That other people matter too.

There is also another type of love. Self-love. I love my son. I love my daughter. I love my husband. I love myself too. Not more or less.

So what is love really? What is true love? I can’t answer that for anyone except myself. It’s a combination of tough love, unconditional love and self-love that says we are all important and of value.



  1. I have just started reading your blog. I have a son who has schizophrenia. He lives at home with his father and they live just a short drive from me so I visit him there often. Luckily, his dad and I are still friends. The love I feel for my son is greater than ever, which I would never have thought possible. My daughter is a whole different story. She’s a single mom of twins, a boy and a girl, and I love them with as much fire as I do both of my own children, again not knowing this would be possible! But …..sigh… comes the kicker. My daughter has gotten herself in big trouble with drugs! When I say big trouble, I mean BIG trouble, involved in a raid at her apartment and she had her baby girl with her. Baby boy had stayed over with me, we take turns, because I don’t feel I can handle two three year olds at the same time. Long story short, now the twins are living with my ex and our son. She is in the process with Child Protective Services and she’s going to have that and the criminal proceedings. I’m beyond beyond now! Love equals love equals love and that’s really all I know for sure anymore.

    1. Hi Jean,

      Sorry to hear your family is going through all this. It’s a hard road… If it’s not one thing, it’s something else! You are very right. Love equals love. Sometimes that is all that I’m left to hold on to and it always gets me through. One day at a time! Lots of love to you and your family.

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