Generations of Tough Love

I recently saw the trailer for the movie “Fences” that stars Viola Davis and Denzel Washington.  There were a few scenes that raised my eyebrow and that transitioned to an “aha” moment.   There are several scenes throughout the trailer where Viola (Rose) and Denzel’s (Troy) characters are in a heated discussion about their son (Cory).  My “aha” moment was seeing Troy’s relationship with his son.  He was so hard on his son.  So much so that his son didn’t feel loved—let alone liked—by his father.  The father (Troy) was so hell bent on making him tough so he could deal with the real world, he couldn’t see the hurt and pain he was causing his son. 

Some families are still experiencing very tumultuous times and in their eyes, “tough love” appears to be a gift to their children as a means to toughen them up for the real world.  Breaking generational cycles of hurt, pain, humiliation, and other ways of being are real, and yet so many people aren’t even aware of the cycle they are perpetuating.    

After sitting with this and reflecting on the emotions that I experienced after watching this trailer, I remembered a conversation I had with my Dad just before he passed away about his mother and, I asked him, “Why was your mother so mean to me?”  He smiled gently and said to me, “You have to try and understand that back in those times, my mother and so many other women like her lived a very hard life and it was all about survival.”  I can’t even begin to imagine the challenges my grandmother (Rose), who was born in the late 1800’s, had faced in her life or the numerous tough decisions she had to make for her and her family.

It is so easy to get caught up in the anger and pain of how someone treats you instead of  taking a step back for a moment to and look at what’s missing, what’s really behind a person’s actions.  I realize that it’s so important to ask questions and listen to gain understanding.  Things aren’t always as they appear.  Communication is so important to gaining understanding.  If I’d never had that conversation with my Dad about my grand-mother, I’d continue to hold on to my story; my belief and pain, that I was not worthy of her love.   I regret never experiencing a loving relationship with my grand-mother.  I regret the disconnection feeling numb when she passed away.  I regret that my grand-mother experienced a hard life and didn’t receive the love she deserved.  I’m thankful that I have changed my story of my grand-mother.  I understand that I accepted and carried the pain of my grand-mother and it wasn’t mine to own.  

It takes love to ask tough questions, change a conversation or perspective, love to be open and non-judge mental, and love to change the dynamics of a relationship.

I know that the most powerful tool a parent can give their child to equip them to maneuver their path through life in general is LOVE.  Love can move mountains! 

Without love there is…

No self-esteem,
No Confidence,
No Courage,
No Dreams or Aspirations, No Happiness,
No Hope,
No Joy,
…and without Joy, there is No Faith

Love creates infinite possibilities…