Tough love is when you take drastic measures that go against everything a parent naturally feels they should do for their child. It is usually practiced after all other measures fail to work. Examples of tough love are evicting an adult child from the home because they won't work. You send the adult child on his/her way even when they have no other place to go. This seems too harsh for some parents to even think about. It is, however, a last resort to get the child to take responsibility for him/herself in the future. It often leaves the parents feeling guilty though.
Here is how to deal with the guilt while practicing tough love with your child:
You helped as much as you could- There is only so much a parent can do to help their child. If the child is not an adult, there are still ways that you can practice tough love. A rigid stance on anything that is causing a huge disruption in your family is tough love. It is difficult to practice tough love without some degree of guilt. You always think there is something else you can do. Tough love is sometimes the best type of love to have for your children. It may be just the thing to bring them back to reality.
Support groups- Seek support groups that will be willing to help you deal with the situation you are in with your child. Support groups help people work through their feelings about family members, home situations and a host of other issues. Working with others who have been in situations that are very similar to yours can help you deal with the guilt of practicing tough love with your child.
Child's resourcefulness- Children can be very resourceful. If you are practicing tough love for an adult child and have closed the doors to him/her, you may feel guilty because you are worried about what will happen to them. Remember that people can be very resourceful when they are forced to take care of themselves. They learn that they have to sink or swim. That is exactly what tough love is meant to do for people. You aren't doing it to hurt your child or because you gave up on them. You are doing it to wake them up to reality and there is nothing to feel guilty about there.
The best for the entire family- When you practice tough love on a child, it is generally because you have no other methods left to deal with that child. Things have usually gotten extremely out of hand within the family unit. In order to do what is best for the entire family, you have to practice tough love on one of its members. Feeling guilty about practicing tough love on one member of the household that is making life difficult for the rest of the family is something that you shouldn't have to feel. Allow yourself to understand and grasp that all family members of the household count, not just the one acting out. You are doing what is best for the entire family rather than just one member of it.
It's hard to practice tough love with your children. There will almost always be a certain amount of guilt that will be associated with it. Don't let the guilt eat you alive though. If you give in, you are doing a disservice to your child. This is the last chance parents have to reach the child. Tough love is a last ditch effort to teach the child that he/she needs to rely on him/herself to survive certain situations.