That Child and Their Love Language
In one of my talks I defined the “trench work of parenthood” as that stage of life when everyone is shorter than you, no one can buckle themselves in the car seat, nobody can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and no one can go to the restroom by themselves. If you’re in the trench work today you might just need a little bit of inspiration. I just want to assure you that it is worth it. Your dedication, your determination, your resolve to parent these children for the glory of God, by His strength alone, pays off. Today is one of those days that I am celebrating the goodness of God as I am in the kitchen with my “that child”.
I want to dive into “that child” and their love language. Obviously, I cannot take credit for this “love language” concept. I am referring, of course, to the work, “The 5 Love Languages” from Gary Chapman. I’m not alone in my admiration of this book, as it’s rounding out its 25th anniversary, it’s currently in the top 20 of all titles on Amazon, and it’s been a New York Times Bestseller for eight years!
It is just life changing. It’s full of insight I think he also wrote “The 5 Love Languages of Children”. It has been very powerful around here, for our life, for our parenting, for our interactions with our kids. I would encourage you to get that if you don’t have it. It is really an invaluable tool.
I know for many of us, we function and try to love others the way we want others to love us. Generally, it is a subconscious thing; it’s not something we are aware of. We assume that what is true for ourselves is what is true for others. Clearly that is generally not the case.
Let’s take a closer look at all five love languages. Here they are in no particular order. I’ll go over the five possibilities and then give examples for each one. I’m hoping I can give you some insight, some inspiration, to go in and love on “that child” today and all the days after today.
Here are the Five Love Languages:
1) Words of Affirmation
2) Physical Touch
4) Acts of Service
5) Time (which actually is my love language!)
Words of Affirmation is the love language wherein that person feels the most loved when we communicate with them verbally, or written, or even in pictures. That’s how they best hear our love for them. They love it if we write long notes, telling them how much we appreciate them, how proud we are, how we see God at work in them. Just write a note, tuck it in a suitcase or mail it. Who doesn’t like to get mail?
I know that we are in the digital era with text messages and messaging, and email. But I’m just going to tell you, I like to get something stamped in the mail. I’m betting you do, too. So does “that child.” They understand the time that we take to write those things down and affirm them in who God has created them to be.
Trust me, “that child” understands that a lot of the time they are in trouble. It’s got to be hard to be them. Help them see what you can see. If you’re just at the end of your rope with “that child” and you’ve got nothing, I really would to encourage you to do like I’ve done and breathe this prayer, “God show me who this kid is, show me something positive.” At the end of a really long day, when I feel like I’ve only fought all day long, “Lord Jesus, would you show me something?” He is faithful to do that. As God shows you those things, share them with your “that child.”
Physical Touch is when the person best feels loved when we are physical (obviously, appropriately) like with a hug, or sitting to watch a movie, or snuggling on the sofa to read a book together, or holding hands while you walk at the mall. This is the child that really needs that physical touch that says “I love you.” Again, in the spirit of just being brutally honest, there have been times with my “that child” the very last thing I wanted to do was give them a hug. Surely, I am not alone. Surely there are others of you out there that just didn’t want to do it. I’ve been there. But “that child” whose Love Language is physical touch needs those hugs.
Time Some people, and this is me, really feel loved when we just spend time together. I don’t really care what we are doing. I just love spending the time. I love it when my kids want to do that with me, too. If you have a “that child” whose primary Love Language is time, they just want to be with you. They don’t really care if you’re going to grocery store, weeding in the garden, or fixing a flat. You will find that they just want to be where you are.
I find that as an introvert that this one can be particularly draining because sometimes I just want to be by myself. If that’s you, Mom, I want to challenge you, the same challenge that I’m trying to live, is to let go of ME and just allow “that child” just to be in the same room. Often, they don’t even want conversation. They just want to be with you. So, spending that time so you can take an opportunity to invite them to spend time with you. If you’re going to run an errand see if they’ll go with you.
Acts of Service is a very powerful thing for anyone who functions in this Love Language. This means that this person feels particularly loved when others do something for them. My husband’s secondary Love Language is acts of service. Do you know something that I can do that communicates love to him? You’ll laugh. I can pay attention to when my car needs the oil changed and go and get the oil changed. It’s a tiny thing but it means the world to him that I would pay attention to that and get it done. Look, I don’t pay attention to my gas gauge. I have to really work diligently to pay attention to when my oil needs to be changed and I do it because it speaks to my husband.
Take an opportunity to make their bed, to do their responsibilities, to dismiss them from doing the dishes, to do something over and above. Just doing something, anything they don’t have to do for themselves, for someone whose language is acts of service, communicates love at a special level, it’s just incredible to me.
Gifting is the language where the recipient can tell you really thought of them via tangible gestures. You saw something and knew it would mean a lot to them, so you shopped, and you planned, and you gifted it to them. They want to know that you really thought about them.
There’s a variety of ways that you can do this for “that child”. I have a daughter who loves flowers. It’s a small thing for me to pick up a bouquet of flowers and put them on her desk. She just feels so loved when I do that. I have a son away at college and when I go to Trader Joe’s, buy him a gift card, and put it in a card and send it to him he feels so loved because he knows I’m thinking about him. Fact is, I really just want him to eat some good food. But he feels so loved when I give that to him.
We all have our different Love Languages, different ways that we function, different ways that we hear love. Chapman’s team has put together a quiz–find a few minutes to learn what your Love Language is, what your spouse’s Love Language is, and what your children’s Love Language is. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity to love each other well and selflessly, not selfishly. The culture says just love selfishly but the Bible says we are to love selflessly.