What 'Tough Love' Is to Me as I Parent a Child With a Chronic Condition

Tough love is driving your 4-year-old to a hospital and willingly standing by as a nurse finds a vein and starts infusing synthetic enzyme into his body — a process that takes just under three hours and leaves your child exhausted.

Tough love is telling the nurse to try again when they missed the first time they stuck your child with a needle, because your child must have his medicine and his vein is the only way for him to receive it.

Tough love is disconnecting from your child’s cries and holding him down so the nurses can do their job so your child won’t get sick.

Tough love is explaining to the school that your child can’t go on that field trip because there is no air-conditioning on the bus, or on the beach where they are going to spend the day.

Tough love is watching your child let you know it is OK they are missing that time with their classmates, when you know inside it is breaking their hearts.

Tough love is knowing your child struggles with severe fatigue but you wake him up from a deep, much needed sleep so he won’t be late to school.

Tough love is knowing when to be hard on your kid for being a kid and when to just love them.

Tough love sucks.

We all have our battles. Some are more visible than others. Some are more tangible and come with nurses and medical bills. But all of it is tough. We want our children to thrive in this world. We want them to feel loved and protected, but also to be pioneers and fearless. It requires a lot of love from us as parents. A lot of warm, fuzzy love and a lot of tough love. Most of all, it requires courage and trust.

Courage to know your child will be OK when they walk into the cafeteria if they have a severe nut allergy. Trust that the teachers will remember your child cannot sit outside on a hot day when the weather finally changes. Trust that the world of medicine is constantly evolving and courage to try new things that may make things different.

This is tough love to me. It is part of my life with the children who make my life whole.

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