What I think about hard core, disciplined ‘tough love’ parenting



When you’re raising kids, I believe in discipline.  Especially with Aspies, discipline, clear rules and boundaries and well-defined expectations are my tools of the trade.  But not at the expense of them feeling loved.

I am always here for my kids to talk to, I listen, give hugs and advice if they want it.  Most of the time I feel lucky that my 15 and 16 year old kids tell me a lot about their lives, and talk to me about their problems.  Sometimes it gets too much, because they tell me TOO much, and between the two of them tag teaming, and the one of me, it’s exhausting and overwhelming. Sometimes I need to call ‘stop’ and teach them to sit with uncomfortable emotions, to work through things on their own.  But they know I am always there.

They talk to me because they’ve always been able to talk to me. Since they were tiny, I have always made time to listen to them.  I have made their feelings important. I have put them first.

Putting them first does NOT mean spoiling them.  You can’t spoil a child with love.  You can only hurt them by withholding love.

My parents were cold and unemotional. They raised a cold and unemotional family. No hugs, no “I love you” s.  No talking about anything more serious than the weather.  And ultimately, no family connection, just a blood relationship.

That might work fine for some people, some personalities might thrive.  They might be happy in an icy environment.  But when you have a sensitive, creative, overly empathic child, that child needs more. They need overt love.  Parent them in a cold and unemotional way, and you don’t create resilience and independence.

You create a hole.

A gaping, needy hold that needs to be filled by someone.  Anyone.  You create a vulnerability for predatory men to exploit.  You create a need that child will eternally try to fill with a partner, or with friends.

You’ll create a person who holds onto relationships too long.  Who forgives to easily.  Who’s too ‘soft’.

You’ll create a person who is a doormat in romantic relationships. Who does all the work. Who adores and spoils their partner and never argues or asks for anything except affection…and gets taken for granted.

You’ll create a person who tries to recreate the family they need with friends.  But friends will never be that close, and it’s almost impossible to find friends who will be there when they really need them.

You’ll create a person who gets destroyed first by abusive men.  And later, by friends who promised to be there, but instead actively chose to let them down.  Because at best, friends are never as invested, friends can too easily walk away.

You’ll create a person who is devastated by abandonment at the time they need people most, over and over again.

I parent my children differently.  They are two very different people, with very different personalities. They are motivated by different things, they have very different needs.

And they get treated differently, but they get treated equivalently.  Not equally. Not the same, equivalently. And they both know, not matter what happens, no matter what they do, no matter what I will always be here for them, I will help them through anything and they will always have a home to go to.


  1. I wish there was a playbook for raising kids. Unfortunately, there is not but the closest thing to it is to love your kids and when that doesn’t work, love them more. Sometimes love with a light hand and others with rules.


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