I imagine that the term originated in the Americas somewhere: I have no intention of researching it. I simply do not want to know any more: tough love is letting your children fend for themselves until they see the light and come around to doing things (living their life) your way. What sort of love is that? You withhold affection, discussion, consultation to show you love them. You insist that it is your way or the highway to show you love them. Huh? This is not tough love; this is self obsession.
I get given this advice frequently: don't help him move - he lost his licence and must learn the consequences of his actions. Don't subsidise his rent - he can still afford to go to raves. Don't take him trolley shopping - he still smokes and drinks, and the choice is his. He needs to get a decent job with a future rather than rattling around hotels as a barman until the early hours. There is a lot of talk here and not much listening.
I go back to when my children were growing up. I guess they were always different from each other in their reactions and personality - but not their character. Personality is nature; character is nurture. One is a rule follower; one is a rule bender. Breaker even. One is a pillar of the community; one is a rebel, moreso than that. One takes after her father; the other takes after his mother.
My daughter is in a stable relationship (married even), has three degrees and works in the management of one of our top law firms. She owns her own apartment in a swish suburb. She has a cat and tries to grow herbs and fails miserably. She is taking evening classes to realise her desire to write: last week I was asked to look at a draft of a children's story.
My son goes through relationships quickly: there have been two of substance. He is currently in his third attempt at a degree. Having excelled at Maths, Physics and Chemistry at High School he is currently enrolled in Psychology and Religion. It is this latter that he actually enjoys. That is what he is looking for: things he enjoys. He shares a two storey terrace in Glebe. He has a cat. On Saturday I was asked for assistance with a photographic issue which resulted in me lending him my camera. He was down near the Fish Markets under the old tram viaducts with a bunch of friends doing a clothing shoot. I could hear the doof doof doof as I pulled into the cul-de-sac.
As I drove back up Ross Street, I wondered what on earth I had done - and WHY?? I was sick to the stomach. He is forever losing things: he places little value on possessions. He is very aboriginal in that sense. He shares everything. It is like when he told me a couple of weeks ago that he had been fired and accused of stealing all in the same conversation. I did not ask whether it was true. I knew it wasn't true. I had no need to ask. We sat on the floor of the stairwell in the student union. He talked and I listened. So on Saturday. He had a problem; I had a means to solve that problem.
I did not notice the text come in whilst I was at Shirley's for dinner on Saturday evening. I did not notice it until Sunday morning. It had been sent at 9:19 Saturday night: "Your camera is home and we're just getting the photos off :) Thanks".
I forgot to add, that as I handed it to him under the viaduct, I looked him in the eyes and asked: "Al, do you value your balls?"