Parents want to know the secret to loving their children effectively. How can a parent love a child in the language they understand?
Every child has a special way of perceiving love, according to Dr. Gary Chapman, co-author of The 5 Love Languages of Children. Children (and all people) speak and understand emotional love in these 5 ways; gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch.
The young women I mentor requested we study this book together, because they want to understand the love language of their children. As a result, my heart has been pricked. Wished I’d known this when I was raising my kids.
As a child, did you feel loved by your parents? Even though you knew they loved you, did you emotionally FEEL they loved you?
In raising children, everything depends on the love relationship between the parent and child. Nothing works well if a child’s love needs are not met. Only the child who feels genuinely loved and cared for can do her best. ~ Chapman & Campbell
No doubt you love your child. But unless she feels it—unless you speak the love language that communicates to her your love—she will not feel loved.
Emotional Love Tanks
Every child has an emotional love tank, a place of emotional strength that can fuel him through the challenging days of childhood and adolescence.
Just as cars are powered by reserves in the gas tank, our children are fueled from their emotional tanks. We must fill our children’s emotional tanks for them to operate as they should and reach their potential. ~ Chapman & Campbell
How do you fill your child’s love tank?
1. Learn your child’s love language.
Dr. Chapman has a short online quiz for adults, children, teens and singles that help with the identification process.
In going through the quiz for my children, I recognized how differently they respond to and need affection. ..This knowledge has helped me become a better mother because I understand how to fulfill each child’s individual needs. ~ Amber Johnson
2. Love unconditionally.
Unconditional love is a guiding light, illuminating the darkness and enabling parents to know where we are and what we need to do to raise our child. Without this kind of love, parenting is bewildering and confusing.
Unconditional love is a full love that accepts and affirms a child for who he is. Not for what he does.
If you give loving looks only when your child is pleasing you, you are falling into the trap of conditional love.
The litmus test for the way we love is to check our heart when we are disappointed by their actions.
- Do I love when my child isn’t obeying? Or do I love her more when she is well-behaved and cooperative?
- Am I proud of him the most when he excels in school or athletics? Or am I embarrassed by his conduct or appearance?
Unconditional love shows love to a child, NO MATTER WHAT.
We love regardless of what the child looks like; regardless of her assets, liabilities, or handicaps; regardless of what we expect her to be; and most difficult of all, regardless of how she acts. ~ Chapman & Campbell
Our oldest child’s love language is words of affirmation. I understood he thrived on words of praise, and lavished it on him often. But did my words affirm his worth? Or did I praise him on his performance?
Now, let me clarify an important distinction between praising and encouraging children. Praising a child tends to focus on performance. Encouragement, instead, focuses on worth. ~ Adrian Rogers
Our daughter’s love language is quality time. Since I carpooled her everywhere—to music lessons, sports practice, church activities, doctors appointments—I thought this was investing in her love language.
I’ve learned from this book that I actually negated her love language by lecturing her. About EVERYTHING.
Quality time is a parent’s gift of presence to a child. It conveys the message “You are important. I like being with you.”
Her love language wasn’t spoken with unconditional love. Did she feel loved by me? *Sob*
Spend this summer getting to know your kids and their love language. As you do, grow in loving them the way they understand.
Love your children well,
Image credit: Jordan Whitt@unsplash.com