Frequently Asked Questions

General TOUGHLOVE Questions

Can you provide advice about my particular situation?
We are very sorry, but TOUGHLOVE® New Zealand simply cannot give you any advice, no matter how much background you provide us. The heart of our program is the advice that you will get from all the members of your support group. And that advice will take you time to believe, to absorb and then to follow.

However, if you believe you are in immediate physical danger, please:

Phone the POLICE! 111

What kind of trouble does my child have to be in for me to need this group?
You are the one who decides what is a problem in your home. TOUGHLOVE Parent Support Groups help parents with a wide range of problems from, “my son won’t clean his bedroom” to “my son has been arrested for…”. If you are concerned about your teen’s behaviour, that is enough.

What if my spouse won’t go with me to the group?
You will find other people in the group in the same situation. Go to the group and ask your friends and relatives to go with you and support you.

Is there a fee?
Yes there is a small membership fee of $50 for the materials you will need in the group when you join. There is also a $5 attendance fee per week requested for each family. If the money is a problem for you, don’t let it prevent you from going to the group. Instead, let the group know and they will assist you.

Does my child go with me to the group?
No. The group is for parents and other adults that care about you and your family. Your child does not need to know everything that you are doing.

Will you tell me what to do?
No we will guide you to make the changes you need and it may be different from what other people need to do. You are in charge of making decisions about your life and your family. Other parents in the group will offer you support and make suggestions based on what has worked for them and other people.

Why do I need to go to a group when my child is the one with the problem?
If you ask your child if he or she has a problem, they will answer no. If someone asks you if you have a problem, you will answer yes. You need to go to the group to create a plan to help your child and that plan includes a support system. Making changes is not easy and you will need a support system created of people who understand where you are.

How long will it take before I see changes in my child’s behaviour?
Maybe right away, maybe never. Your situation took a long time to develop and it will take a long time to change. Also, your child’s behaviour will change only as a result of changes in your own behaviour.

What you need to know before attending a TOUGHLOVE Group

Can I just turn up at a TOUGHLOVE meeting or do I need to register in advance?
You can just arrive. No prior registration is required.

Can I talk to someone before I come for my first visit?
Yes. If you would like more information before coming, or have any general questions please phone us anytime on
0800 868445

Is there a cost?
Yes. There’s a one-time cost of $50, paid at the end of your first visit. You only pay if you choose to come back and join the group and get our resource material. You only pay this fee once. This one-off fee covers you for as many weeks or months as you choose to come. We encourage you to bring your husband, wife or partner. There is no additional charge when you both come.

How long does the meeting last for?
All meetings commence at either 7pm or 7.30pm – refer to regional meetings information.

For how long do I need to attend?
We recommend you attend at least 8 to 10 times, but that is over to you. Some parents find it so valuable they come for many months to get the full benefit of on-going support. Some get all they need after only 3 or 4 weeks.

Do I bring my child?
No. Our support groups are only for PARENTS or care-givers.

What happens at my first TOUGHLOVE meeting?
First timers will be taken aside and the TOUGHLOVE program will be explained by one of our more experienced group members. We will then encourage you to give an outline of the reasons why you have come and what changes you are seeking. We will help you single out the key issues you would like to focus on so we can work towards assisting with some strategies to address the behaviours that brought you.

What about the confidentiality of my situation?
TOUGHLOVE operates on the basis of absolute trust. We totally preserve the confidentiality of who you see at our meetings and what you hear at our meetings.

Is there a set format for TOUGHLOVE meetings?
Yes. The first 2 meetings are spent with an experienced TOUGHLOVE facilitator. From the 3rd meeting onwards the structure is always the same. We divide into small groups for 30 minutes and review the week just gone by. A 40 min “Information Session” follows in which a parent or someone from the community will talk about parenting matters. A 40 min small-group session follows in which we assist parents to develop strategies for the week ahead. Each strategy is tailored to each parent’s specific needs.

What will I notice after my first meeting?
Most parents don’t feel as much alone anymore. You will feel greater confidence to cope with whatever brought you in the first place. You will hear of new strategies and solutions. Your child will benefit from clearer boundaries and appropriate consequences given in a loving and supportive way.

Can I expect phone support if and when I need it?
Yes. The TOUGHLOVE program encourages parents to phone one another on a regular basis. This encourages an interchange of supportive strategies and ideas. We guarantee you will no longer feel alone. We have been where you are now and we understand how lonely it can be without support. Our collective experience in dealing with adolescent behaviour is very re-assuring.

Do you have any written material?
Yes. Every parent/couple attending a TOUGHLOVE meeting receives a copy of the “TOUGHLOVE Parents Manual” included in the $40 fee. It is packed with useful practical information that you will easily identify with. You will also receive a copy of our weekly work book known as the Weekly Action Dairy.

Are there benefits in kicking my kid out of home if they don’t behave?
No. It is generally a sign that the parent can’t cope. The parent wrongly thinks that the problem will go if the kid goes! We owe it to our kids to demonstrate love and respect. If we can’t give it then we shouldn’t expect them to give it to us! It’s TOUGH but much better in the long run to find solutions at home while your child is living under your roof.

Does TOUGHLOVE believe in physical punishment?
NO! It is unacceptable for anyone to use physical punishment to “teach another person a lesson”. TOUGHLOVE opposes the use of violence in the home. People usually resort to physical punishment when they are too weak and insecure to think of better ways of dealing with unacceptable behaviour. Kids need loving parents who are prepared to discuss and put in place appropriate consequences for unacceptable behaviour.

What if I’m a single parent, separated or blended family etc?
Whether you are a single parent, separated, part of a blended family, have adopted children or are a married couple with a solid nuclear family, TOUGHLOVE can help. Children need parents who can role model their values and parenting styles that they would like their children to learn from. Ideally they need 2 parents but life doesn’t always deal us a fair hand and we have to make the best of what ever our family situation may be. Whatever your situation, you will be welcome at a TOUGHLOVE parent support group

Children need clearly defined boundaries and appropriate consequences when the boundaries are crossed. And they also need plenty of positive acknowledgment and recognition for good things they do as much or more than they do for unacceptable behaviour.


We offer strategies and options for change. We work with parents, not with the kids.

It is the parents who need support to regain the confidence to cope.

There are no quick fixes for behavioural problems. Behavioural problems usually develop over a long period of time, so it is important to allow time to deal with them. But one thing is sure, if you do nothing, then nothing will change.

We hope you can make it soon to one of our meetings.There will be people there to greet you when you arrive.

We advise that you arrive a few minutes early as meetings start promptly on time. Each meeting lasts for 2 hours and 15 minutes. Tea & coffee included.

We regret that we do not offer a phone counselling service, but please phone if you need more information about our Parent Support Groups, meeting times, locations etc.

We are sorry that you might have to come and see us. But if you do come we will be glad to see you.