Anita Bosman

7 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and given two months to live, I was not in a very good place at all. Then my sister- in law informed me my niece (whom I adore) was on drugs, well I thought; I cannot save my mother but by God I would help sort out my niece.

Someone suggested TOUGHLOVE®. My first meeting was a disaster; I could not believe any parent could be so nasty; they obviously did not love their children as much as we did. We decided that they did not know what they were doing, we could do this on our own, and after all she came from a good home, not a dysfunctional family like those people!

Well things got a whole lot worse; my niece had opened a can of worms, and my son’s bad behaviour deteriorated. They were drinking and the two were smoking dagga regularly, my middle son was not getting anywhere with his life, first he wanted to become a computer programmer, and then a pilot, the list goes on and on. We spent lots of money and still no qualification, he kept making excuses and blaming everybody else for not accomplishing anything.

I realized I needed help, I was starting to really dislike my children, and I thought that maybe those people at TOUGHLOVE® had the right idea; maybe they loved their children enough to do these very difficult things in order to help them. I decided to give them another try.

That was seven years ago, since then I have faced my youngest son being expelled from university and my eldest son nearly dying from the effects of alcohol abuse. At my support group I found the strength, help and advice I needed, after all they are dealing with the same or similar problems to mine.

I realized that love is not given unconditionally, but in fact it is about teaching them to take responsibility for their actions. When they feel the consequences of their bad behaviour they will hopefully want to change. My youngest son now works with his father, its hard work and long hours but he has learnt to appreciate that he has a job and is responsible for his life. My eldest son has not had a drink in 2 years. I know its early days and I have no control over whether he drinks again or not. My niece has been clean for 6 years.

My middle son is still a problem but thanks to TOUGHLOVE®, (a working group where I set goals and am working towards fulfilling them with the help of the group) I am stronger and more able to cope with life’s challenges.

The best advice I can give anybody is to educate yourself and to find a local support group. I am now involved with this wonderful organization and help other parents as I understand what they are going through.