Tough Love Not Always Optional

No sane person sits around anxiously awaiting the day when they have to make decisions that restrict our parents and their daily routines. We grow up observing and learning from our parents’ decisions and independence. However, more often than we care to confess that time comes when failing memory or other declining aspects of their cognitive function or poor physical health impairs their ability to function independent of ongoing help.

In far too many instances the parent may rebuff what they term to be “excessive involvement” into their lives or personal affairs and can even become obstinate. The question for us is does such an attitude negate our efforts and obligation to step in when needed to protect someone with newly developed vulnerabilities? The answer is no.

PIC - HODGE FAMILY 2007The term tough love can carry with it a rather brash tone and signify an almost abusive posture. However, this is not the typical connotation. It simply implies that children and grandchildren have to toughen up and bear the responsibility of making decisions that someone can no longer be trusted to make for themselves. The family of the late Dick and Anne Hodge whom I served for over 8 years (some pictured at left) were wonderful examples of this especially the eldest daughter Christine who refused to let emotion or dad’s obstinance stand in the way of doing what was best for her parents.

Moral obligation is simply a part of life. We make decisions daily with regard to selecting the best school for our children, the best medical care and even the safest automobile to purchase. We never view these decisions as unimportant.

Similarly when the time comes to to make that tough call regarding our parents and their need for care, that “tough love” must never be viewed as optional. It is simply too important of a process to run away from or trivialize.

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