Sponsored by T Bar M Camps
Written by Tiffany Dixon, Camp Mom
Today, “tough love” is more spoken in cliché rather than put into action. The culture offers extreme
options for parents. We can push our kids relentlessly, asking from them extraordinary standards in
areas such as extra-curricular activities, athletics, or academics, convincing ourselves that if we make
them tough and successful, a “force to be reckoned with”, then we will help them become dominant
and protected in this harsh world. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’re presented with an
approach that asks us to consider, at all times, the centricity of our child’s importance in this vast
universe, being vigilant to safeguard and endlessly search out their emotional feelings. We are told that
in doing so, we will help them to become peaceful and sensitive in this divided world.
Parents are pulled between the tug-of- war of these two ideologies. We sense within us the need for our
children to be overcomers, victorious over their fears and insecurities, while simultaneously remaining
compassionate, recognizing the dignity of each individual. Vacillating between these extremes is
exhausting, and we sense that camping out in either extreme, could lead to trouble. Inconsistent
parenting is also ineffective and the child learns quickly to manipulate the situation.
In reality, both child and parent are wired to function best in an environment that fosters love and
discipline… “tough love.” In our pursuit to find our parenting posture, we appreciate opportunities that
support us in nurturing this character within our children. We are gratified when we are able to give
driving instructions with a touch of humor (in spite of our own fears), or without frustration train them
how to efficiently load a dishwasher, or through our own tears insist they “get back in the game” when
they’re discouraged, being ready with a Gatorade and hug when it’s all over. These moments are the
oxygen that breathes life into the morale of our parenting. This is why communities that also foster this
atmosphere are counted amongst our greatest allies.
For our family, T Bar M Camps is such an ally. Almost 35 years ago, I attended as a camper. My father
drove me from Oklahoma to attend. Coming only with my little brother and being a state away placed
me outside of my comfort zone. Over three decades later, I still recall the love and opportunities offered
me during my time at T Bar M. As parents, my husband and I have had the privilege of having all four of our children attend T Bar M Camps. Our four comprise two girls and two boys, each being uniquely
wired. We have watched them become overcomers, in large part because of their adventures at T Bar
M. Each year we discuss ahead of time the new opportunities before them…meeting new people and
being kind to all in their cabin, joining the ranks of the fearless by doing the Bushwhacker or Screamer,
being bolder to share their heart and ideas during discussion time, or going for it by decking out in a
wacky costume on theme night. After closing ceremonies, on the way home, we celebrate victories won.
The beauty is that “tough love” triumphs.
Our kids are not influenced under either extreme on the pendulum. Camp is a place for them where
they know they are loved and valued, and where they are expected and encouraged to extend that
dignity to those around them. They have pressed through the fears welling up inside them, knowing
they are in safe and supportive hands.
At T Bar M Camps, they have learned what it means to be relational, respectful, resolved, and
resilient…champions. We are grateful for T Bar M and look forward to one day having another
generation of champions to come!
Summer is three months of shaping our kids into the adults we desire them to be. And while
those three months are a bit more fun, relaxed and sun baked than the rest of the year, let’s
make summer matter for our kids. How you spend your summer is important. Make camp a
priority today! Visit www.tbarm.org/austin-moms-blog/ today.