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.