Is Tough Love Parenting the Wise Choice?

Raising a child is always a challenging responsibility for parents as their kids’ childhood plays a huge role in their physical, emotional, psychological, and intellectual development. Events in childhood and parenting all contribute to how children will turn out later in life.

Because of this, parents work to come up with the right parenting style that will enable their children to initially adjust and develop in many aspects of their being. Of course, when the child becomes a grown-up, it is up to them to learn and unlearn behaviors depending on their values.


Every parent’s parenting style varies from family to family. If you are considering tough love parenting, you may be curious as to what it is and its merits. Here’s what you need to know.

Is Tough Love Parenting the Wise Choice?

What is Considered Tough Love?

On the surface level, it may seem that it aims to show children that their parents will not be enabling their bad behaviors, habits, and attitudes. However, while parents will be curbing such negative potentials, tough love seeks to make kids understand that their parents love them.

However, it is important to know that the words “tough” and “love” combined is not what it seems. 


According to experts, it is a type of authoritarian approach to parenting that is sometimes equated to “old school parenting.” Authoritarian parents impose rules and focus on control, compliance, and punishment.

It is a high-demand, low-responsiveness approach, characterized by coldness and aloofness, especially when it comes to kids’ emotional needs. 

Pros and Cons of Tough Love Parenting

In many cases, tough love parents believe that this approach will “toughen up” their kids and instil discipline. Such parents also believe that not using this approach may make them seem like weak authority figures in the eyes of their children, thus the latter might “walk all over them.”


However, studies show that such an approach can result in unhappy, extremely compliant, less independent, overly shy, and less confident children. These kids are also known to exhibit less psychological flexibility and less ability to cope. 

Striking a Balance

It is important to understand that the pros and cons discussed above are not to say that toughness is parenting is all bad. What this means is that a certain degree of toughness is needed combined with warmth and empathy. 

Now, many believe that the opposite of authoritarian parenting is the permissive approach, in which the parents have low demands and high responsiveness. 

Permissiveness is warm and nurturing but without authority and boundaries. Such parents who establish boundaries inconsistently enforce them. This is seen as the other extreme end of parenting styles.

So, What Approach Should You Take?

You might want to look into non-permissive parenting such as the authoritative approach, different from the authoritarian approach, mentioned above. Compared to permissiveness, this is a moderate demand and responsiveness. 

Authoritative parents are consistent, strict, and with high standards. However, they are also loving, warm, and empathetic. Their approach is issue-based and practical, instead of being dictated by an absolute set of rules and expectations.

Often, they listen to children’s arguments and provide explanations. They may also impose punishments and discipline but at a reasonable level. The source of their parental power is their wisdom and experience, and not coercion and control

As a result, some studies show that children of authoritative parents tend to have better academic outcomes. They also have more social prowess, showing less aggression and acceptance. Overall, their mental, social, and physical wellbeing are better.

Is Tough Love Parenting the Wise Choice?

The Bottom Line

As mentioned, parents have different parenting styles. Family situations may vary from one family to another. However, if tough love parenting is a style of choice for many, it may be wiser to take the non-permissive or authoritative approach.

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