FILL THE TANK

FILL THE TANK

Do you love your child? I realize that is a silly question to ask a mom, but if you were to ask children many would report they don’t feel like they are loved. Love is what we feel for them, but we have to be empowered in how to get that love OUT of our hearts and into THEIRS.

Go to The Love Language™ Quiz (5lovelanguages.com) with your child and have them complete the online Love Language quiz for children over the age of five (under five needs all of the languages spoken). Print out their results and spend time connecting by coming up with a list of 15 ways you can speak love in their language. This is important because if you don’t know what love looks like, you can spend years pouring your heart out, but to them, it sounds like a foreign language, and they don’t understand it. Speaking it the way they *need* it spoken is like getting a bullseye right into their heart. Do not get overwhelmed by this as a ‘one more thing I have to do.’ Chances are you are already doing many things to show your love for them. Wouldn’t you rather invest your energy where it was actually being deposited rather than unaccounted for? Also, many of you are dealing with issues with your children that are draining you greatly (attitudes, walls, anger, disrespect, poor grades, lack of attention, etc.) and nothing shifts circumstances more than going after their heart (above circumstances and behavior) and filling them with love. The Word says if you have everything, but have no love, you have nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2). This tells us love has to be a foundation above everything else. The challenging thing about a child’s heart is that they are small and EMPTY quick, but the good things about a child’s heart are that they are small and FILL fast. Children often come home from school with lowered love tanks and not only need a snack to nourish their bellies but love to fill their heart tank. This will improve the way they interact with their siblings, respond to you, as well as, how they perform in school. Like watering a wilted plant, they come to life no matter what they have been through when watered with love in a language they can understand. The difference between a wound and a hurt is how much love they received in the midst of their circumstances. Your love as their mom is the greatest balm you smear on anything that happens to them, but you have to know what that balm looks like to them. Set a reminder in your phone to go off daily as a reminder to fill their heart’s love tank. This is one investment you can’t afford to neglect in your child’s life. Love is essential to thriving!

LANGUAGE OF LOVE

Sibling connection is important, yet without tools, language, or empowerment to create a peaceful environment, sibling conflict can be a great source of chaos in many homes.

QUALITY TIME

The child with the love language of quality time is filled up the most when they get your undivided attention. Nothing makes them come more alive than having you all to themselves. 

Here are some creative ways to speak their language: **Cook together (meals have to be done either way, why not do it together). **Try a new hobby together. **Go on a walk together. **Set up a movie (theater or home) for just you two. **Schedule a weekly date. **Play a game with them. **Take them on a lunch date without any other siblings. **Bake cookies together. **Play catch in the yard together. **Have an overnight trip together. 

These are the children who like to follow you around. They don’t really care what you are doing as long as you are together. As they get older, they are the ones who volunteer to go on errands with you just to be together. For a parent, this can be challenging to steward because, no matter how much time you spent with them yesterday, they will want to be with you again today. Because being together is so important to them, if they do not get their needs met, they are generally the ones who act out or toe the line just to wave a flag so that you see them. When you see them agitating siblings, do not separate them. Help them connect by spending quality time together. A great way to be proactive is to make sure every day you are carving out intentional time to spend alone with this child. It does not have to be hours, but a calculated five-minute date can water their heart deeply. While it may be a challenge, I strongly encourage you to fit this into your morning routine on school days. It has the power to radically change their ability to learn, pay attention, and connect well with teachers and friends.

One of the worst things you can do to this person is create an expectation of alone time with you but then be distracted by your phone. It is super isolating for this person to be with you but not with you. Remember, it is okay if our child’s needs stretch and grow us to become more like Jesus. The goal is not to see how little you can water their hearts; the goal is to allow their needs to refine, align, and heal the things in us that were lost or stolen. Spending quality time with a child has the power to ignite joy, enter rest, learn how to play, and increase our childlike faith.

REMEMBER

The other day Ellie came to me and said, “I know I am loved, but I am just not feeling it today.” The following day I felt led to lavish on her through her language of love. She thanked me, and I told her, “I did not do that to love you. I did it to REMIND you that you are already loved.” As a busy parent, it is easy to feel pressure with the love languages as if it means our children are not loved or are lacking something essential if we don’t fill their tanks daily. The truth is they are ALREADY loved, and speaking their language stirs up what is already there. Take the pressure off yourself of ‘having to’ give your child what they need and view the love languages as a privilege to stir up, call forth and remind them of what was theirs all along.

RUNNING ON FUMES

What happens when the tanks run low? While everyone will experience an ebb and flow with their love tank when a person, especially a child, runs on a low love tank as the norm, it can open them up to greater issues and wreak havoc on the growth of their mind, body, and spirit. A low tank makes them susceptible to the following: Isolation – physical, mental, or emotional; Negative words that stick; Unhealthy choices; Orphan behavior – begging and striving; Acting out (negative attention is better than none at all); Aggression; Anger; Building walls to protect their heart; Disconnection; Miss the healthy training ground with siblings; Feeling unsafe; Taught to conform to someone else’s expectations. 

When the tanks are filled on a regular basis, it creates an environment where: They are safe and protected; Can try new things without the fear of failure; Negative words roll off their back; Are free to be careful and joyful (a child’s nature); They are seen and heard; Trust you; It is safe to be themselves; Deep sense of belonging; Have the courage to do brave things; Increase the will to overcome and endure.

The Word says if you have EVERYTHING (money, fame, status, awards, a big house, a perfect-looking family, IG followers, Pinterest-worthy snacks, A+ students, fancy cars, leadership titles, etc.), but have no love, you have NOTHING! Love matters because God designed our heart, mind, and soul to need it. May your parenting be defined by what matters the most – L-O-V-E!

PHYSICAL TOUCH

We all need touch, but for those who have the language of touch, it is super easy to fill their tank! 

Here are some creative ways to speak their language: **Put your hand on their shoulder when speaking to them. **Give them a two-minute back rub when putting them to bed. **Start their day with a long embrace. **Hug them every time you leave/return home. **Hold their hand while walking. **Hold them when they are upset. **High-five those successes. **Create a special handshake. **Cuddle with them before bedtime. **Let them snuggle with you while watching a movie. **When driving reach back and hold their hand. **Sit next to them when eating out. **Hold their head when you hug them. **Give them random kisses on the forehead. **Hold them while reading a book. **Tickle their knee. **Play with their hair. 

Just because you have teens does not mean they have outgrown their language. Teens need physical touch, too.

ORPHAN SPIRIT

The term ‘orphan spirit’ is a little misleading in that it is not a demonic spirit that can be resolved by using your authority over it, like a spirit of fear or rejection. The ‘orphan spirit’ has more to do with the POSITION of a believer and which kingdom they are aligning their thoughts with. We are all born spiritual orphans because we all fall short of His measuring stick and have disobeyed. The Good News is that Jesus took our spanking for our mistakes, messes, and disobedience. For those who humble themselves and accept this profoundly kind free gift, He gives to us in exchange our adoption papers and the right to be included in His Father’s house and enjoy everything that is available to Him. It is like one big giant slumber party in the palace where there is plenty of food, joy, and laughter. Except the party does not end the following morning. We get to live like that for the rest of our days on earth. However, the process of discovering our full adoption takes a lifetime of exploration. The Bible calls it sanctification, which is the process of being set apart for His purposes. The moment we believe we are justified or adopted, there is a process that comes with learning to become a true Son or Daughter. Let’s say it this way. You were born into the foster care system and lived in a group home until God walked in, looked you in the eyes, and declared that He wanted you as His own. From that moment, He is your legal guardian, but it takes some time to learn how to walk as a Daughter and Son and leave the orphan life behind. My hope is that you will take a few more steps toward your Father and live out what Jesus has made available to you, His Kingdom!

ACTS OF SERVICE

A mom mentioned: When I read about children with the language of acts of service wanting you to help them, I thought of my daughter. An example would be me fixing her hair. Sometimes I don’t have time to help her and ask her to do it herself, and she does get upset actually.”

My response: I know you love her and show it through providing breakfast, clean clothes, and getting her to school, but can you increase doing it in a way that she values and understands? What if sending her to school with her hair done by you filled her tank in a way that empowered and helped her throughout the day to feel safe and secure? Would you want to do it then? She is giving you the keys to her heart. The amazing thing about children is that their hearts are small and fill so fast. A five-minute hair session can literally change her day! How can you create the time to communicate love to her? Can you wake up five minutes earlier? Can you braid it the night before? When you honestly cannot do it, how then can you communicate that you still love her without being able to do her hair?

Let’s slow this down for a moment. A child is asking for help because that is how their tank gets filled, and the parent to whom they are offering their heart begins to get upset and frustrated with them for not doing it themselves. They now walk away with a tank even lower than when they first asked. I KNOW this is not the goal of many parents, but this is what happens when we fail to understand *their* language. We have miscommunication and a breakdown of deposits in their heart. Hear the difference: “No, I already taught you how to tie your shoes. You be a big boy and do it by yourself. Stop fussing and get it done now. No, I will not help you. You are going to make me late. Hurry up,” VS. “Oh, buddy. I love that you want me to help you, and my heart really wants to, but I cannot right now. I need you to tie your shoes. I am so proud of you for the way you have mastered tying your shoes.” Can you hear the difference? One sees the heart and affirms them, while the other only sees the task. It isn’t a yes/no, you do it/I do it response. It is seeing their heart and making sure you are communicating and affirming your love for them.

LOVE LANGUAGES

Your child’s language of love is one of your biggest parenting tools for your tool belt because love conquers ALL.

LOVE BIG

Testimony from a father. This is what it is all about! The best parenting in the world means little if it does not love big.

“My wife and I discovered today which love language each of our children gravitates toward & made an intentional effort to fill them. The results were immediate & noticeable! It was as if their cup was running over & they had extra to share. Really neat!”