I don’t think that there is a single well rounded human being alive that has not been raised with many of both. Firstly, we hopefully get plentiful quantities of the two from the people who bring us up to be adults. As we grow we get them from friends and loved ones, and sometimes even from the universe in general. I am only seeking to stress the point that we all need a good balance of both. I know that many people would like to believe that all problems can be solved and all situations remedied with love. With this notion I adamantly disagree. I am a huge supporter of hugs, which I give and receive many times over each and every day. That said; there is absolutely no way in the world that I will disregard the effectiveness of a swift kick in the ass…and I mean this as a figure of speech, of course.
I recently had the amazingly blessed opportunity to spend time with my foster boys. The last time that I saw them was about twelve years ago, and they were just little guys, now they both dwarf me ridiculously, which I find simply awesome. One of the most surprising parts of the experience for me was how often they both praised my disciplinary tactics and how much they credit me with teaching them. Of course, this brings me to tears, but it also makes me conscious of how effective it can be to step up and play the bad cop in the life of someone that you care about. Sometimes, no amount of hugging, and encouragement, and cheerleading is enough to get through to someone who is screwing up. Sometimes you just have to throw all of the dirty laundry out on the front lawn, which is exactly what I did after my boys continuously refused to put their clothes in the hamper. Believe me, I got their attention.
This is a relatively easy concept to understand when we are looking at raising kids. We already know that they respond well to structure and discipline because it helps them to feel secure. What do we do when it comes to adults who are screwing up though? Have you ever had a friend that you gave all you could possibly think of giving to, and no matter how hard you tried; they remained in the same pattern of fucking up their life? It is quite possible that they were good and ready for a swift kick in the ass. It is not always an easy thing to do, but it certainly does show the person that you are concerned about how much you really care about them. I like how it is portrayed by the close-knit group of friends on the show How I Met Your Mother. They are often planning interventions for each other when they realize that a friend has fallen into a pattern of destructive behavior.
I have received a few swift kicks from my friends in the past, and I have to admit that as hard as those revelations were for me, I am eternally grateful to the friends who cared enough about me to call me out. I am not saying that all of the people in your life are going to be open-minded enough to appreciate your efforts right away, but I do believe that true friends will figure it out eventually. I often hear so many of my acquaintances talking about how much of themselves they give to others, and how much effort they put into supporting other people through their problems. If you are a giver who keeps finding yourself in that same situation, maybe you should think about whether you care about these people enough to exercise a little ass kicking of your own, or even enlist other friends to help you out with the effort. It is most likely better than exhausting yourself trying to repeatedly console someone who seems to be strongly rooted in his or her own self-destructive behavior. Maybe sometimes we have to determine if our friends really matter to us enough to give them the wake up call that they need.