Tired of hearing mom's advocating Tough Love


New Member
I'm so tired of hearing mom's advocating Tough Love on their adult children with addiction issues. As parents, we seldom get it right when raising them. We neglect them for our jobs, ourselves, or other children with more immediate needs.

Statically, 50% of the mom's who advocate tough love on their children are divorced.

1 out of 15 of their daughters have been sexually abused or assaulted. 1 out of 20 of their sons have been molested.

Maybe you just never found out about it.

Maybe they just can’t get over what ever it was that traumatized them.

Maybe you just never knew what set them down a path of self destruction.

Maybe it was you!

It took us over 3 months to find out a neighbor rapped my 12 year old daughter, yet, we were suddenly dealing with a child acting out in the worst ways imaginable.

Tough love has become an excuse to negate the responsibility of caring for the children you created in order to “move on with your lives”.

You isolate yourselves from them to avoid being called an “enabler” and abandon your children, who, because of your parenting skills haven’t a clue “HOW” to be an adult.

You let the state raise them because you can’t.

You give them over to the state and lock them up in rehabs and institutionalize them because you can’t handle them and wonder why they come out knowing more about drugs, theft and manipulation than when they went in.

Your love has always been the reward system. Conditional Love without an ounce of genuine empathy. Long range rewards compounded with almost eternal groundings and punishments that suck the life and hope right out of them.

You set them up for failure. You demand more of them than you do yourself or expect them to be become instant adults at 18 when you’ve had enough.

You’ve turned the TV on since they were infants and let Sesame Street teach them to read and allowed them to play video games until their frontal cortex became mush.

Now, your children are really screwed up with expired drivers licenses, low paying jobs or no jobs at all, warrants for their arrest and more problems than you could ever hope to fix.

Their addicted to drugs and alcohol, because, no matter how you justify yourself, you have failed them.

You think you didn’t. You look for a way to excuse yourself. But you missed it somewhere.

You find other mothers and support groups to give you the strength to abandon the children you created physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially.

No, not all family dynamics are the same and every situation between the child and parent relationship is different and every life experience has its own free radicals to create the millions of variations of ciaos that find it’s way into our lives everyday.

But you walk away. You want them to fail until they hit so hard they learn to pick themselves up.

People aren’t rubber balls. They don’t bounce. They break. And they break into smaller and smaller pieces every time you drop them.

So abandon them. Cut them off. Let them fall on their face. Maybe they will get it together without your help.

Besides, by the time they’ve reached adulthood, they probably realized that it was you who had the abandonment issues and not them. They understand you won’t help them because you can’t. That giving up on them is the best you can do.

Tough love is an excuse for poor parenting and those that advocate it almost always turns into ugly, narcissistic bullies that take no responsibility for the damages they’ve created.

You think you did all the right things, well obviously you didn’t.

You cared more about your own needs, your loneliness, your financial stability, your job, your boyfriends, your health, your time, you own addictions, whether its, weed or the latest episode of The Bachelor. Pretty much everything comes before your children.

You need to be shot the next time you tell someone “I did the best I could,” because you didn’t.

Face it. Most of you probably have the nurturing instincts of a bird that eats it’s young.

You’re emotionally detached. Fearful over money. You were probably abused yourself or neglected in some way by your own parents.

You might think I’m generalizing the entire Mothering Universe.

But that’s exactly what you do when you give in to the Tough Love Approach as a viable alternative to being a parent and taking responsibilities for your own lack of parenting skills.

Eisenhower had to make a tough choice once too. Drop the atom boom and kill a few hundred thousand or let the wars rage on and allow a million more American men die.

But after the war was over, we spent the next 20 years helping to rebuild a nation who was once so totally screwed up it sent its owns sons on suicide missions.

If you failed your child when they were young, then it’s your responsibility to them and society to rebuild their lives.

By the way, I had a good mom and dad that bought me unconditional love has no boundaries or limits and I'm a better man today for it.

Yours Truly,

The Enabling Dad

AKA – The person left to clean up the emotional mess left by an emotionally challenged mother.


Well-Known Member
Wow tom you clearly have a lot of anger about your situation which we here on this forum know nothing about....but you are generalizing in a big and hurtful way about situations you know nothing about. You are welcome to share your own situation and things that you have done to help your child, and if you can share positive ideas that's great.

But your post was making all kinds of assumptions and generalizations that at least in my case are not true and were offensive to say the least. This is a place parents come who need support, not blaming criticism...believe me there ie enough of that out there and we don't need it here.

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Well-Known Member
Hello Tom
My son isn't an addict. You haven't even read my posts.
You say that statistically 50% of mothers who advocate 'tough love' (and who have spent years trying every other approach), are divorced. I think you'll find that around 50 % of all mothers are divorced these days. I am glad you are such a wonderful father and that you had such wonderful parents.
Best wishes


one day at a time
Tom, I am so sorry your daughter was raped. I can't imagine how horrible that must be for you and for her.

Sadly, Tom, most of us moms spent many years trying everything else in the name of mother love before we realized we can't help anybody who doesn't want to be helped, and we can't change anybody but ourselves. Even our own kids who we love beyond all reason and who we would and did lay down our lives for----I was like the walking dead for a long, long time----if only that would make a difference.

I believe our "loving protection" defined as fixing the problems our kids created and saving them from the natural consequences of their own choices, was more crippling to them than detachment will ever be. Today, my son is a grown man. He has choices and decisions to make that are his alone.

In fact, you may have noticed that most of the time, mothers are the very last "man" standing, long after fathers detach and let it be whatever it is. It takes most of us a very very long time to get it, if we ever really do.

In fact, Tom, we moms tried it all of the other ways, plus some, and most of the time, things only got worse. Things sometimes get worse with detachment and "tough Love" as well. There is no magic recipe or quick fix, as I am sure you have found out.

Tom, each of us can only do what we feel is best, and believe me, most of us struggle with that question every single day and night endlessly. Once I learned better, I started doing better. I have been dealing with my son's derailment since he was 12---he is now 24.5 years old. The last four years have been horrible.

Your anger at moms is sadly misplaced. Maybe you had a really bad experience with one mom or a few moms who were neglectful. I would be angry at that as well, and I'm sorry. Most of the moms I read here on this site and the ones I know who have dealt with their kids' addictions for years are not the people you describe.

I'm sorry for your pain. You may want to consider reading this site---many, many posts---so you will better understand. You may want to consider not lumping all moms who are letting their adult children go, to live their own lives, into the negative bag you describe.

We have looked into the face of hell, Tom, and I don't think you know much about who we are, what we have experience, or what we have now learned.

I wish you peace and solace for the pain and anger you are feeling today.


Well-Known Member
Tom, I'm sorry you are hurting.

I also understand very well what kind of blind, seething rage it brings on in a parent, when your child is raped or otherwise seriously hurt by others. That kind of rage just has to be directed somewhere, because if you direct it to yourself, you will self-destruct. Directing it to culprits doesn't really help, because they may be unknown and at least not there. Directing it to your hurting child of course is not a good idea (though that happens too.) Directing it to other parent is what is left for you often. And believe me, you don't have to be divorced for that to happen. But while I understand the anger too well, it is not appropriate to direct it to strangers that have their own battles and own anger and guilt and issues.

I'm not a big advocate of detachment, though I believe that it is an only option, when you can't save a person who doesn't want to do their part and when you have to save your own sanity or sanity of other family members. And about enabling, as popular concept as it is in certain movements, I have seen very little serious research about it. And what I have seen, seems to imply, that what is called enabling in certain circles is not at least causing harm to the 'enabled' and can in fact help. And tough love treatments don't seem to be too helpful in many studies. And we are certainly supporting our kid who has issues. But then again, we are not in the brink of exhausting ourselves either mentally or financially, so it is an easy decision to help him.

It doesn't help that typical trauma reactions and behaviours are rather obnoxious and insufferable at times. Addictions, anger issues, all kind of trust and responsibility issues and so on. It is understandable to just want to grab their neck and shake, and feel bad because of that. It is hard, when your child hurts. But in the end it is their hurt and they have to deal with it. Supporting and helping to find and pay resources may help, but they have to do all the real work to survive. You can fix them, if they are not ready or able to work for it. It is their life to live in the way they choose.

That doesn't mean I don't consider it a gross misjudgement from powers that be that something so precious as my son's life is in the hands of someone like him. Or that I don't have nice and neat Excel sheets about exposure therapists, their qualifications, specialities, any reviews available and other resources available in any of those eight cities (six in this country, two abroad) that I know my son's agent has been talks with. And that I wouldn't book a consult from psychiatrist I trust in the moment difficult child signs somewhere and ask for recommendations for that city. But in the end, it is up to him.


Well-Known Member
the detachment is for us. It isn't for the benefit of the adult (note adult) child because that adult child is choosing to make bad choices. I have two daughters and both were raped, sadly. One got into drugs, but then decided to get out of drugs and make a good life for herself. The second one makes very good choices and is going to college next year. She has had a lot of therapy and is expected to do well and is a happy, popular kid. My son is also doing really well. Maybe it was all the therapy.

Life throws us many challenges. I have serious disabilities and mental health issues and I've had them all of my life. Nobody could help me with them but myself. And I did.

In the end, how old should our kids be when we still take care of them even when they are hitting us, swearing at us, destroying our property, stealing from us and destroying our lives and health. Most of us are up there, in our 50's, 60's and some 70's. We also have a right to live without taking care of 25, 35 and 45 year old adults who happen to unable to get their lives together, even if bad things happened to them in the past.

I am thinking about how sad it would be for me if I had felt so angry and bitter at the challenges of life that I had never tried, like so many of our difficult children don't try, and had blamed my parents. I could have easily ended up "bummed out", on drugs, an alcoholic or a bum in the streets just to show myself that society screwd me over. Yeah, that would help me.

If you are a difficult child, my suggestion is to do what I did and get help yourself. You are not a little boy and you can do it without your parents. Your parents do not owe you their health, sanity and very life because they gave birth to you. The best thing you could do for yourself is to move on from your resentment and try to thrive. I am a son who is autistic and he does not complain about the horrors that life has thrown at him...in fact, he is happy.

Only one person can make you happy and it isn't your parents. It's you.

I am sorry for the hardships you have encountered that have triggered your post, but this is primarily a support for parents with adult children who are destructive to themselves and abusive to them. Nobody should be allowed to abuse another, even a child to his/her parent. No matter who did what to you, that is no reason for abusing those who love you the most.

I know for a fact just by living with my girls that even molestation is not a reason to give up the rest of your life. You are given whoever abused you too much power.I'm sorry about your daughter (just re-read your post and not going to re-do mine, just take what you want from it and leave the rest). You need to get a lot of help for her. However, if she is stealing from you and hitting you and abusing you at age twenty-four, your mind may change as to what you are willing to do for her, especially if she refuses to get help. I am positive that she can heal. My daughter did. I also think therapy would help YOU a lot. We adopted a child who abused my two youngest kids (the autistic boy and his sister). We all were in therapy as it was a family matter. I found it very helpful to all be working on this horrific happening at the same time.

The people on this board do not expect instant adulthood from an eighteen year old. We expect either college or a job, which is reasonable. They should not be sitting around smoking dope all day. We expect respect. That's not hard to do. Three of my kids have managed to be respectful with no effort at all and not one of my children is problem free or had an easy childhood. We expect them to help around the house. In what way is that asking too much?

Disclaimer: This is just my opinion.
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Hey tom

I have no idea to whom "you" refers but I do know it isn't any one of us. So why don't you take your anonymous initial post that spews hatred on to a group of hurting mothers you haven't taken the time or effort to know; and direct it - in person- towards the real person you blame. She isn't here.

As for me,I am living proof that your generalization is entirely inaccurate.

1 happily married

2 son never molested

3 I never imagined a life without my adult son in it. Still can't fathom it.

4 I have another adult son who is thriving in college and just sent us a heartfelt message thanking us for our loving& supportive parenting. And a HS son who is thriving and just came in to kiss me goodnight. That blows your theory.

5 My eldest son was not abandoned, nor raised by the state. Never institutionalized, hospitalized et al. In fact, he attended very expensive private & competitive schools.

6 my love for all of my children is free flowing & unconditional. Always has been, always will be.

7 I didn't find this group because I needed support to abandon my child. I found this group because I was awake all hours of every night for weeks into months into years worrying about the safety and well being of my adult child who chose debt, immorality and drugs over our family & his own well being.

8 my family comes first. Period

9 I did do the best I could and no one- not even a an absolute, misogynistic arsehat like you -can be harder on me than I am on myself. Go ahead judge me harshly and angrily and spitefully. Bring it on. My own self judgments are 300000000x tougher. Apparently you find comfort and strength in self righteousness. I guess it is easier & more comforting to judge and blame others rather than look in the mirror. Turn your microscope on yourself. I dare you.

10 No, humans are not rubber balls . Mother - most of all - are human. Mothers MUST bounce bc small minded idiots such as you have declared open season on us and post on anonymous forums in venomous criticism - aka trying to drop us into pieces that break. Nice try

11 I am glad you had good parents and you are a better man for it because I can't even imagine a man who has fewer scruples and less kindness, grace & empathy than you have displayed here. You should be ashamed of yourself. And if your parents are as wonderful as you imply - they too would be ashamed of your post. You should show it to them. Didn't they teach you that if you have nothing nice to say it is better to say nothing? Or judge not lest you be judged?


Well-Known Member
Amen!! I couldn't say anything better than these warrior moms already have.

Perhaps you should attend an A A or NA meeting. Perhaps you should actually TALK to an addict.
Your post is pure anger and rage - we certainly understand that feeling. But you most definitely are releasing it the wrong way. Go educate yourself in order to arm yourself for your battle ahead. Instead of coming here to try to break these women, you should be taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge here. Shame.

And now I am going to go enjoy the morning with my former meth addict daughter and my precious joy of a grandson who I am blessed to share my life with. She will tell you that her "falling" and my FINALLY not rescuing her saved her life. Yesterday we went to court and she was so excited to show the judge her son because he helped save her, too. She truly is an amazing woman today. I have NO regrets.

I will pray for your daughter...

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Well-Known Member
I too will pray for your daughter. I truly hope that your hateful spirit will not affect her recovery from the trauma that she experienced.

in a daze

Well-Known Member
I'm sorry about what happened to your daughter. But if her behavior is out of bounds, enabling her will not help her.
We've all tried it your way, and it didn't work.