Imagine your 25-year-old child drinking and drugging to the point of not being able to hold down a job or go to college and you give them the money to buy their alcohol, and to top it off–you call it an act of love. Imagine your husband having six affairs and you have four children who are aware, and you still stay with him because you call it love. Imagine watching your mother steal from a store and though it is wrong and she is breaking the law, you do not say anything because you love her that much. Imagine again if you will doing everything for your son such as filing out his job applications, doing his taxes, making all of his calls, opening his bank accounts and paying his bills, and he is 34, and you call it love.
I have found it incredible in my line of work over the past several decades that this is how people define love. Offering no consequences for behaviors that sets someone back causing harm is how many people define love. I believe love is to act intentionally to promote overall well-being. Buying your alcoholic child booze is not an act of love. It does not have their best interest in mind. Doing important tasks for another is robbing that person the ability to learn how to care and fend for themselves and by always doing things for them, you have become a thief, all in the name of “love.”
Positive love requires a consequence. You see helping is a statement of love whereas enabling is a statement of pity for and lack of belief in an individual. We have to keep in mind that when we help a loved one out of love, it contributes to the solving of a problem however, we need to be careful not to enable because it’s an act that contributes to the continuation of a problem. Bottom line here is that helping is an act of support and love whereas enabling is an act of control.
If you love someone, then it would make sense you would give them the greatest gift of all, consequences. When we offer a consequence whether it legal, financial, emotional, interpersonal or spiritual, consequences are what can most effectively help a person. That is the greatest act of love. Some people refer to it as tough love, but I would like to think it is love simplified. It is common sense love. It is pure and the intent is for the persons best interest.
I often wish people would love others by doing what is right. Offering consequences that is best for their loved one, not what is best for you. Your threats are not love. Your “this is the last time”, does not mean love, and your excuses for your loved ones behaviors does not mean love. All it means is you are good at the misguided act of “compassion” but believe me, it is not love. In fact it is the very opposite.
I always tell people if you want to show your love to someone, be it the child who has a chemical dependency, or the husband that has too many affairs, or the adult who is breaking the law, or the person who is an adult but still cannot do anything on their own, to begin to act with consequences. Not your pain, not your personal suffering, not your apathy but act out with consequences because only consequences have the power to do what no amount of human enabling can do, make people responsible for their own life….and that is the great gift of all.