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Jailed daughter motivated couple to create Tough Love program

David York and his wife, Phyllis, of Doylestown, Pa., started the Tough Love program. "Actually, our daughter started it," David says. His daughter was 18 when she got into trouble and was arrested. The Yorks, who were family therapists a...

David York and his wife, Phyllis, of Doylestown, Pa., started the Tough Love program.

"Actually, our daughter started it," David says.

His daughter was 18 when she got into trouble and was arrested. The Yorks, who were family therapists and drug and alcohol counselors, refused to bail her out unless she decided to change her behavior. They had friends talk to her rather than approaching her themselves.

"Eventually she decided she wanted to get out of prison," David says.

The Yorks realized what they were doing with their daughter was more helpful than what they talked about as counselors.

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They started the first support group in 1980.

David says when the group first started, it spread in large numbers across the country. Now, he says, the program is smaller in the U.S., but still very popular in other countries, such as Singapore, Brazil and Australia.

"I think what we're doing is we're helping people look at their behavior and see what is working and what isn't working," he says.

Their daughter now has three children of her own, and David says she is a stern mother.

"I think when people work the program, it really works, when they don't, it doesn't," he says.

The Yorks developed 10 beliefs that they say must be accepted and followed in order for the tough love program to work. These beliefs are from their book "TOUGHLOVE," (Bantam/Doubleday, 1983, $7.50):

- 1. Family problems have their roots and supports in the culture.

- 2. Parents are people too.

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- 3. Parents' material and emotional resources are limited.

- 4. Parents and kids are not equal.

- 5. Blaming keeps people helpless.

- 6. Kids' behavior affects parents. Parents' behavior affects kids.

- 7. Taking a stand precipitates a crisis.

- 8. From a controlled crisis comes the possibility of positive change.

- 9. Families need to give and get support in their own community in order to change.

- 10. The essence of family life is cooperation, not togetherness.

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More information about the program is available at www.toughlove.org .

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 235-7311

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