tough love

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tough love (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) The compassionate use of stringent disciplinary measures, to attempt to improve someone's behavior.
    • 2002, Tim Padgett and Andrew Downie, "Bush's Lost Continent," Time, 19 Aug.:
      When it came to Latin America's economic travails, Bush adhered to the principle of tough love: no more bailouts.