The value of tough love

My brother and his wife, who live in Ohio, recently traveled out of town with two of their three children for a weekend baseball tournament. They left their high school senior at home, and upon returning, learned that she had had a party, evidently with alcohol present.

My brother and sister-in-law rightly saw this as a serious violation of their trust, in general, and more specifically, a violation of their home. Their response was clear and firm: her graduation party the next weekend was cancelled, with some gifts returned and apologies/explanations made to some invitees; and grounding from friends, car, TV, and phone for two weeks.

My niece responded well, lesson learned. And my three sons, who greatly respect and like their uncle, seemed to grasp the seriousness of the issue, and the consequences to their cousin.


• Think about when you were a teenager. Did you ever seriously violate the trust of your parents? When they found out, what was their response?

• Consider how you might respond to a similar situation. Are you more of a permissive, authoritarian, or authoritative father (see blog for descriptions – address below). Which kind of father would you like to be?

• It is essential that parents, especially fathers, set clear and firm limits for children of all ages – and when boundaries are crossed, there need to be logical, immediate, and age-appropriate consequences.

The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides bi-weekly action ideas to stimulate conversation between fathers and parents.

For more information, or to join local conversations, contact

Mick Trombley at

David Eggebeen at

Robert Orndorff at

Marc McCann at 237-1719 or