I was introduced to Dr. Gary Chapman and the Five Love Languages about 5 years ago. At first the concept didn’t make sense to me. I know what people do that makes ME feel loved, and I assumed that those same things made my loved ones feel loved.
Turns out I was wrong. It wasn’t the first time and definitely wasn’t the last time I was wrong.
Reading the Five Love Languages has helped me to identify not only how my children perceive love, but also how any other important people in my life perceive that I love them. Let’s face it – some of us want to stay single without the encumberment of marriage and the compromises it entails, while others have the opposite desire.
Myself, I’d like to be married again someday. I’d like to grow old with someone who I know and who knows me at a level deeper than friendship. And, maybe someday God will bless me with that particular desire of my heart. For now, I am a single mother who loves the challenges I face each day with my children, because I know each day it makes me stronger.
Back to the Five Love Languages.
Dr. Chapman describes our ability to love and be loved like having a tank. Much like a gas tank, we spend some and we get some back. When the tank is full, we have more patience, understanding and ability to love others than when the tank is empty.
Your tank empties when you serve and help others without perceiving that you get anything back in return. The operative word is PERCEPTION. Because, while you may perceive that the person of your affections doesn’t love or care for you, they may express love to you in the only way they know how.
If you don’t perceive love, then your love tank empties and suddenly it’s almost impossible to have a relationship without anger, frustration and feeling taken for granted.
Unfortunately, as a single mom, we don’t have the balance of a spouse who can fill our tank so we can pour into our children. We have to consciously fill our tank each day.
And the best way to fill your love tank is through the actions of the people you love . . . .
But . . . . how can they fill your love tank and you fill theirs, if you both speak different languages?
Love can be spoken in different languages and sometimes those languages have different dialects. What speaks volumes to me may not even cause you to turn your head. Over twenty years of professional practice, Dr. Chapman has defined five languages of love that appear to fit the majority of people.
That doesn’t mean you don’t speak a language that has yet to be discovered – or that your love language isn’t a less often used dialect. But it does mean, for the majority of people, there are five languages that fill your love tank. And one of them probably resonates with you.
You can find these languages listed in multiple places because it’s a concept that has merit and produces results.
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
These are things that drive us as humans to want to please our loved ones.
Love is a choice and I choose to love my children, much the same way that you choose to love yours.
The interesting thing I found about learning my child’s language of love, is that the more they felt loved by me, the more they were willing to engage with me. We had deeper and more meaningful conversations about topics that parents have to talk with their children about.
Drugs, sex, school, work performance, future plans, girlfriends and boyfriends, relationships, abstinence, STDs . . . and the list goes on.
Without these conversations your children are getting the information they want and need from their friends, the media, YouTube and Beyonce. If you want your children to pattern their lives after people in the media then you may be satisfied by not engaging them in the tough conversations.
But, if you don’t want your children to follow the same path of the people you watch on the news, then it’s time to face the challenge head on and address the issues they are facing everyday they leave your home.
When you connect with your children because their love tank is full and they know in their heart-of-hearts that you love them, then it’s possible to share your perspective, your world view and your ideas without coming to blows.
Assuming you believe it’s important – how to do you figure out what drives your child?
It’s actually much simpler than you might imagine. Children are usually much more transparent than adults and so, you become the detective.
Get to know the languages, how they’re spoken and how they are received when you speak the right one. Give your child words of affirmation, spend quality time, give them priceless gifts that don’t cost money, hug them and make them dinner.
The language the child speaks will mean the most to them. Do they love to hug you throughout the day? Do they thank you for making dinner or doing the dishes? Do they tell you how much you mean to them? Do they want to spend time with you, even if it’s just watching a movie together? Do they bring you small gifts with a big smile?
Your children show you love in the same way that they perceive it.
In other words, if their love language is physical touch, then they love to hug you throughout the day. If their language is words of affirmation, then they tell you how much they love you or how thankful they are for the things you do for them.
After reading the book, I sat back and thought about my children and what meant the most to them. My oldest daughter loves quality time with her mother. My youngest son’s love languages are balanced between words of affirmation and those incredible hugs he gives me. My oldest son loves quality time with me, usually after 10pm when I’m ready to fall asleep sitting up! And my youngest daughter loves words of affirmation and quality time.
Once I knew how to pour my love into them, it was important that they knew how to show me love, so that my tank was also full.
You might think that acts of service would do the trick for someone who is running from the time they are up in the morning until it’s time for bed. But, while I appreciate it when they help me keep our home clean, it is their words and their hugs that mean the most to me.
The reverse is also true.
If you can’t figure out what your own language is or your children’s, think about the things that hurt you (or them) the most. More often, if your language is words of affirmation, then hurtful words cut deeper. If your language is gifts, then having your birthday or anniversary of a special event overlooked is more painful. You get the idea. You can figure it out by how they express themselves or what hurts more, because your love language speaks to the heart of who you are and how you feel about your relationships with others.
So, as you move through the rest of the week, think about what your children are saying and doing. Ask them if you’re right about what makes them feel loved. And then pour it in to them and watch them flourish and your relationship with them blossom in way you never thought possible.
It’s never too late. Whether you have 5-year-old, 15-year-old or 25-year-old children, it’s never too late to show them how much you really care.