My son deeply needs to connect with his family. It is beautiful yet developing the skills can be messy at times. I was away on a ministry trip while he stayed at a friend’s house for the weekend. I reminded the girls he would need to reconnect upon returning, and they eagerly created plans to connect. About an hour later, I got a text saying he walked away and didn’t want to play anymore. I called to check in with him and asked if he felt like the girls were connecting with him, and he said, “NO!” Upon inquiring with the girls, they recited that they grabbed his favorite meal, ate together, and played games. In other words, they gave him a gift and quality time. I asked them what his language was, and they both realized immediately that it was words of affirmation. I asked if they affirmed him with their words, and they realized they labored so hard to connect at that moment, but through their language, not his. This is a classic example of people’s hearts in the right place, wanting to intentionally love someone else but missing the boat because they are speaking the wrong language.
CLASSIC LOVE LANGUAGE MISUNDERSTANDING
I can assure you that when your child’s love tank is low, you are going to smell the fumes somewhere! Adults have learned (not-so-healthy) coping mechanisms to pretend that a low tank is still running just fine, but a child will not. Kids don’t need oceans full twice a year; they need continuous drops. I encourage you to sit down and write out at least ten easy, simple ways you can speak your children’s specific love language. This will help you to stay proactive in filling their tanks, even when your plate is full. I cannot tell you how many times a “Hey bud, go set up a game of cards, and I will play a round with you,” can change their heart, attitude, and the atmosphere of our home.
My daughter was having a tough time with her brother thinking it was funny to put his toe right up against the doorway to her room. He never went in but was taunting her, and she was biting the bait. She came to me exasperated. Holy Spirit had me teach her that he was getting a thrill out of her reaction. He doesn’t care about going into her room; he loves the rise it is causing her. It is making him feel powerful (of course, none of this was appropriate on his end), but this is an annoying thing about people kids must learn to overcome. I told her that every time she freaks out, it was like she was giving him chocolate. Of course, he would want more. But when we take the ‘fun’ out of our reaction, it is like handing him a candy bar made of broccoli. Ah, no thanks! I encouraged her to go up and ignore him, blow it off, and soon enough, it won’t be fun for him anymore. She invited him in, and then he ran away. He never wanted to enter; he wanted to bug her! When my kids find themselves in that situation again, I simply say, “Give them a broccoli bar.”
This lesson was taken from our Character Counts SOAR parenting magazine. If you are interested in more activities, you can purchase your digital copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly
“We all already were familiar with the love languages, so we focused on what each language actually LOOKED like to us. I realized that there were things that I thought were filling but weren’t, as well as things I had done that DID fulfill someone, but they never told me, so I didn’t even know! My husband and I decided that we needed to go deeper and really try to understand each other! I bought four glass jars with lids at the Dollar Tree, and each of us got one jar and chose a color to represent him or her. I cut pieces of construction paper in the chosen colors and then color-coded the lids and wrote our names. So how this works: If I do something to contribute to my husband’s love tank, he will put my color paper in his jar and let me know what it was that I did. This way, we are aware of what means something to someone else and what doesn’t. We wanted to do something visual that would make us more aware and help us learn each other better. So far, this is bringing so much awareness to each other and making us dig a little deeper to find out what works for someone. I thought my older ones would think it was childish, but they didn’t. I even got my grown 33-year-old son (who just moved back to Alabama and is temporarily staying with us) involved with it. I was expecting some eye-rolling, but they all are on board!”
It never ceases to amaze me how things like a family vacation, school breaks or holidays, etc. can cause a breakdown in the connection among siblings. It is easy to want to partner with scolding them for being so selfish, but the reality is they need HELP staying connected in different circumstances. I found myself putting out little fires between this one and that one, that one and this one. Finally, one morning I called a family meeting and had them close their eyes. I prayed and asked everyone to listen. “Jesus, has anyone in this room hurt, offended, or taken from me?” Every hand went up. I led them to forgive that person. I then walked through, “Jesus, is there anything I need to forgive ______ for?” and I went through each person’s name. I then asked, “Jesus, is there anyone in this room that I need to ask forgiveness for?” And every hand went up.
We walked through being humble and owning the ways we have hurt others. It generally isn’t the big things but rather the little things that build up over time. I shared with them that if each person had to forgive for two things, times the five of us, that is TEN hurts or offenses between us, and I had them picture a ball of yarn like a spider web between us that the enemy can use to pull and influence. We want to take out our spiritual scissors and cut the strings through forgiveness. The JOY and peace that come from these family times are tangible. I don’t want forced connections and fake smiles. I want my family to genuinely have love and care for each other, and sometimes we have to go after the little foxes of offense that are ruining the vineyard.
Video – Family Detox – YouTube
I am passionate about the languages of love! But do you know there is also a language of how you need an apology spoken? Nothing is worse for me than someone saying, “Sorry!” It actually makes the offense worse for me. We have a family of FIVE, and there are FIVE languages – one for each of us. It has been challenging to speak someone else’s language, but it has allowed us to be more like Jesus in the process. I encourage you to have your family take the test, print it out, and discuss the results.
I am not seeking to offend anyone with this, nor am I turning this into a debate, but I believe that the following story is KEY to understanding the NECESSITY of communicating LOVE to our children.
Years ago, I led a small group with a friend I had known for years. I adored him and felt like he was my brother. One day he announced to me that he struggled with same-sex thoughts. I was dumbfounded; how could a man who loved and obeyed Jesus struggle with something so profoundly and I did not know of it before as his friend? Something in my heart demanded a breakthrough to understand his journey. I remember him telling me that his mom and dad were the best parents ever and that they loved their four kids passionately. The dad, however, never spoke his love language. The other kids shared the language of quality time, and the dad was excellent at that, but my friend’s language was touch, and his dad was not a touchy-feely kind of guy. He explained that as a child, he longed to be held, touched, kissed, patted on the back – just touched by his dad – and he never got it. He explained how he was almost obsessed with being touched by a man as a child. When he entered his hormonal teen years, he would find himself fantasizing, not about sex with another male, but about a man’s strong arms or big chest and what it would feel like to embrace them. The enemy will use anything, and soon, as his hormones were raging, confusion began to wage war, and he found himself moving inch-by-inch into sexual thoughts about another man. At that point, he had never acted on it, but it was a daily battle to control his longing to be held and touched by a man.
Do you want to know what the saddest thing about this story is? Think about those struggling with these desires, and what happens to a person when they finally share their deepest secret with the parent from whom they long for love? They get rejected and stamped as unacceptable. And guess what that fuels? Their need and longing for love. Love matters!
My goodness, there is a lot going on in the spiritual realm. Can anyone else feel it? Trust me, if you feel it, so do your children. Here are some practical ways to increase the joy & peace in your homes TODAY! First, fill those love tanks (you have to know their language before speaking it, so make sure they have taken the online quiz).
Each morning, set up a date with your child. Five minutes feels like a long time for a child. They can pick whatever they want to do with your time, and they normally pick something they need from you – talk, spend time cuddling, or play a game. It is a great way to get those tanks filled and get you focused on hearing what they have to say! (Don’t tell them it is only five minutes, though). I like to make a big deal about it by saying something like, “Meet me in the living room at 2 pm today,” or “Let’s have a date, just you and me.” Love languages matter!
If you have followed Let the Children Fly for long, you know that I am a big promoter of knowing and filling your child’s love tank. How many adults walk around with unmet needs waiting for someone to fill them? It is a lonely and isolating experience. The sad thing is few people can read your mind to know what you need. I have been very diligent in not only teaching my children about their love language but how to discern when they are feeling low, isolated, or disconnected and how to get their needs met in a HEALTHY, proactive way. Typically when their tanks are low, there is an increase of bickering, conflict, bad moods, agitation, and strife. While I went after character training, I also helped them to be PROACTIVE with their needs so that it doesn’t get to that point. Hudson came to me one morning and said, “Hey Mom, I set up a game of cards for us.” Truth be told, the timing wasn’t great, as I had a lot to do, but I had eyes to see that my son could have cared less about cards and was really saying, “Hey Mom, my love tank is low, and I want you to fill it before I go to school.” Yep! I can make time for you, son.