I don’t wait, hoping and praying someone sees me to fill my love tank. I know when my tank is feeling low, and I intentionally put myself on the path to get it filled up. We can teach and empower our children to do the same. For example, when there is a conflict between two siblings, I often bring up their love tank. They almost always say it is feeling low. I encourage them on how they can go after getting it filled up in healthy ways that promote connection and peace rather than by acting out as an orphan, which only pushes people away further.
GETTING YOUR TANK FILLED
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.
Once you know a child’s love language, you learn how to fill their hearts easily. I could spend my last dollar on a child, but if their love language is quality time, it won’t hit their heart as much as the child with the love language of gifts. I could spend every waking moment with a child, but if their love language is words of affirmation, they will still feel empty/low after spending all that time together. I could smear my child with endless praises, kisses, and words, but if their love language is acts of service, they will wonder why I don’t love them enough to help them. If you want to hit a bullseye into their heart, LEARN your child’s love language and go after it daily.
I knew one of my kid’s love tanks was low with her sibling because of the way he treated her. Hours later, he came to her with a request. I could predict her response, “NO!” Not because she really cared or didn’t want to give it to him, but because she had little in the ‘love tank.’ He tried to cash in a favor, and her tank was so low she didn’t want to give it to him. I responded by saying, “Sweetie, if you want to walk in favor with her, you might want to work on filling her love tank.”
Want to teach this to your children? Here is a great exercise. Call a family meeting and sit around the table. In the center, place a large bowl of water filled to the top. Give each family member a glass and a spoon. Tell them that you are going to play a timed game of seeing how full you can get everyone’s glass by putting the spoon in the center bowl and scooping up the water and placing it in their glass. The rule is that no one can fill their own glass, just everyone else’s. At the end of a minute, see which glass is the fullest and which one is the least. Share with the children that the center bowl represents God’s love, which is full and plentiful. We can grab His love anytime we want, and it is always there. Share that each glass represents their family member’s hearts, and the spoon represents our words, actions, choices, and interactions. Either we are putting love into their tank or choosing not to.
Whenever we endure something big such as a stressful season, a death, a move, etc., my main goal is to make sure I am filling their love tanks intentionally. I was really sick years ago with a ripped artery in my neck. I was on blood thinners and was at high risk for a stroke or aneurysm. It was not an easy season being a solo mom of four young, active children. I literally made myself a chart with each child’s name and the days of the week. I forced myself to speak their love language DAILY. I believe it is one of the biggest reasons we got through those rough waters together with our connection intact. Love covers a multitude of bumps and bruises! When in doubt, I fill the tank. Love languages matter!
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.
I will never forget the father who took our online Kingdom parenting class and wrote to me weeping as he told me how all these years, his daughter had annoyed him with her constant chatter. Holy Spirit revealed to him that that was her way of trying to connect with him and her love language. He was weeping for all the times he had become annoyed with her and told her to be quiet. He never saw her heart until that day, and it broke him. Love languages matter!
My youngest two have always been super close; however, they have been snapping at each other a lot. I finally sat them down to dig deeper. It was obvious that one of them was carrying some hurt, but they didn’t know what or why. Not a problem, Jesus knows! Psalms 139 tells us He can search our hearts and reveal things to us. So, we asked Jesus to shine His flashlight into her heart. She started crying and said that during Christmas break, she asked to play with him on numerous occasions, and he told her NO (I assume it was because he was busy playing with his new toys). She took this very personally and has built a wall around her heart with him. I could have disciplined her flesh for snapping at him, but her flesh wasn’t the issue – her hurting heart was. As soon as Jesus revealed the truth of what was going on, she could forgive and be free from the hurt that was agitating her heart.
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.
The Father cares deeply about what is happening in our homes today because He sees the fruit it will produce.
During a parent coaching session, a mom shared that she had difficulty growing up in her home. There wasn’t a lot of love, and she felt rejected by a sibling, which caused a lot of pain and confusion. When she graduated, she wanted to get far away and start over someplace new. She left her home and traveled to another country. Can you imagine the parents whose family is broken up years later simply because they didn’t know how to help their children get along when they were younger? Ask any mom in the season of grandparenting; we will reap tomorrow what we sow today. Good or bad, our choices will grow fruit. If you want your children to have unity when they are older, we must sow into their relationship when they are younger.