The Complement of Tough and Tender Love

STRICT, uncompromising schooling produces fine graduates, but not without a redemptive atmosphere. Compliments and encouragement have their limits, particularly when they stop inspiring and start enabling bad behaviour.

Both loves are needed: tough love and tender love; the loves of challenge and encouragement.

And without both, the gift that love is to relationships falls short and ceases to be. On the one hand, there’s purposeless discipline. On the other, nothing happens, development meanders, standards slip.

This is one reason why the best coaches are renowned for the feats they inspire; running the gauntlet along the knife’s edge of performance. They know how to push individuals as much as they know why all individuals need to be pushed. They’re passionate amateur psychologists.

All parents ought to know the effectiveness of love in its totality, and their responsibility to discharge same. And yet, as parents, we all know how difficult it is to love consistently, erring, as we do often, on sides of tough and tender forms.

A key to joining these two forms that complement each other is the execution of patience. In being patient we’re able to accomplish discipline and manage anger. In patience, we’re able to carry out what we promise to do and, simultaneously, never (seem to) get angry. By patience, we can provide a safe place to push limits, stretch friendships, and maintain a zest for believing that tough things, seemingly impossible at times, can be done. That’s nothing short of inspiring.

Many can survive the toughest human experiences, but humans tend only to thrive when tenderness is available as a foil for toughness. And the opposite it also true. Humans need to a loving push occasionally, so they’re equipped for the realities that life throws us all.

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