In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I figured I’d do a blog post on love. Love is such a big word. There’s so many iterations to it’s meaning, how it’s received and how it’s given. For this post I’m going to focus on tough love. I attribute a lot of the positive parts of who I am and my successes to the tough love I’ve been given in life. While I may not have recognized it in the moment, it’s made me stronger, it’s humbled me many times and other times kept me motivated. Don’t be fooled, there’s been plenty of times I’ve been given tough love, especially by my family (it’s our love language tbh), that I’ve retaliated or gotten pissed off. That being said, I finally have a new understanding and I guess you can call it appreciation for tough love since I’m now in a position where I have to frequently give it.
While receiving tough love is something I’m used to, giving tough love, outside of my family, on the other hand, is not. That is until I got Milo. Are we surprised that this post relates back to him?? I remember telling my mom recently that the whole “Mr. Nice Guy” mentality I read about when it comes to training a puppy wasn’t always working and there are times I just have had to put my foot down. To which my mom responded, “you’re finally learning tough love.”
I’m the type that when I receive tough love, I’m quick to get defensive and I feel like I hold onto the toughness part more than the love part. It takes a minute for me to recognize the place that the givers are coming from. Now that I’m in the giver position, I’ve realized how necessary some tough love in life is. If solely, just to build some humility. As my parents have told my brothers and I many times, “I will never tell you, you’re always right or perfect.” It sounds harsh but really what good does that serve us or anyone in that matter? If we are constantly told we do no wrong or are perfect, it leads to arrogance, leaves no desire to improve nor a desire to work towards something. It’s not that my parents don’t support us, believe in us, or love us. It’s quite the opposite. They wanted to instill good work ethic to make our successes that much sweeter all while keeping us humble and appreciative. Boy has it taken a long time for me to get to this place to be able to say and understand that but I’m glad that my parents stuck to their parent philosophy of “I’m you’re parent not your friend.” They are the reason I and my brothers are where we are today.
When it comes to Milo, what I realized was that while I will always spoil him to some degree, not giving him tough love when he does something he isn’t supposed too, isn’t doing him any justice. I was way too soft with him and as a result he was thinking the world was created around him. I want to be able to take him into any situation or place and he not be a brat but in order for that to happen he has to learn. The first time or maybe the first couple times he does something he isn’t supposed to, I give him the benefit of the doubt but after that comes the tough love. As with anything, there’s a right and wrong way to show tough love and that’s also part of the learning curve. Physical hurt is not tough love, that’s just mean, in any circumstance. But, it does mean that when he’s chewing my furniture after constantly being told no and redirected for the last 3 months and truly knows better, that I go over, get eye level and sternly say “NO!” The first time I ever showed him tough love was when I went out and he escaped. I was so upset that I ignored him for a while. I’ll be damned if he didn’t quickly get the hint and kept to himself during that time. The first month, I was more concerned about Milo hating me or being afraid of me. I tried to constantly praise and keep a positive-pitched voice. Honestly, how stupid am I?! One of the best things about dogs is they show another form of love: unconditional. What I needed to realize was that unlike me, Milo would not hold the tough love I gave him against me and that ultimately tough love every once in a while will actually benefit him, as it has me, in the long run.
I’m grateful that I’m having this experience with him as it’s something that I needed to learn eventually and need to continue to learn, especially if I do aspire to have kids of my own some day. I recognize that unlike kids, dogs don’t really talk or fight back 😉
I know this isn’t the typical lovey-dovey post one would expect leading into Valentine’s Day but I’m grateful for the lesson in tough love and in unconditional love my truly sweet Valentine has and is teaching me.
Love to you all!