I just read another blogger's words on tough love and I just wanted to share what is in one of my literature pamphlet from FA about this subject.
"Tough Love" is a term associated with FA and other Twelve-Step programs. It also relates to the idea of detachment. It refers to a way of relating to the abuser. On the surface the combination of the words tough and love appears contradictory. We are likely to think of love as always soft and tender. That's exactly the problem for many families of abusers. Their tendency to be soft and tender is frequently manipulated by the abuser in selfish and hurtful ways. Their tender, warm love can become bitter. Resentment and rage may develop. Under the conditions that drug abuse creates, love is still needed but it must be "tough love." Tough love is love that does not hurt the drug abuser. It may make them angry, but it does not hurt them by indulging them in what they want but cannot handle.
Tough love means affirm and encouraging every positive effort the abuser makes. It also means refusing to be the servant of their self-destructive whims. It is strong enough to resist our acting out of guilt or our tendency to rescue. Tough love is not vindictive, but has the ability to say "no".
(from Families in Crisis - How Families Anonymous can help #1024)