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 SORRY
Someone gave Hudson a can of pop (or soda, as some of you say), and his sister commented how lucky he was. The next day he used his own money to get her one and put it on her bed with a note. It touched me deeply because, in all honesty, this isn’t his normal expression. A few days later, I inquired with him what motivated him to be so gracious and kind. He said, “Oh, she wanted to spend time with me the other day.” I have said it before, and I will say it again. TEACHING CHILDREN THEIR SIBLINGS LOVE LANGUAGES MATTERS. Siblings get their sense of belonging from each other, and when their tank is full, they naturally pour out love.
Our goal as church leaders and parents should not be peace. Instead, our goal as believers has to be FREEDOM from what causes the patterns of chaos in the first place. It is the freedom that naturally produces peace. But to go after peace without freedom is nothing short of behavior modification, legalism, and denying the power of the Cross.
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.
Did you have parents who cared more about discipline than connection? Who used discipline as a weapon of punishment instead of correction and connection? If so, I want to encourage you that your challenge will be to find the BALANCE between connection and discipline. So many times, parents have harsh experiences (and some emotions to process with it) and then go all the way to connection leaving the child undisciplined. The next generation has hurts because they struggle in life from the lack of discipline and then vow they will crack the whip with their child. God is looking for a generation to bring things back into His balance, not extremes. Childhood warrants discipline AND connection.
Emotional and mental isolation is worse than physical isolation, as it is a breeding ground for the enemy’s lies. A real war is happening for your child, but you are not a prisoner, and there IS a way out. So rise up, Mama Bear! We need you, protective Father! We must help our children process their grief and help them stay connected to the family, others, and even themselves in this hour. JOY releases a chemical in their brains that gives them the will to fight and endure hard things. One of the most profound ways you can help them is to find pockets of joy throughout the day.
What is a pocket of joy? It is finding those little moments to crack a smile, giggle, or roar with laughter. It is dance parties in the middle of math, eating chocolate chip cookie dough, running in the rain, jumping on the bed, and being silly and childlike. Whatever your day looks like, let it include pockets of JOY! It is NOT entitlement and buying them whatever they want. It is joy through connection and face-to-face smiles, not just things.
The best thing I ever did was teach my kids each other’s love languages. Ellie came to tell me how good Hudson was reading. I reminded her that his language is words of affirmation and told her to go tell him directly. They have been best friends since. When a kid says they are bored, I ask them what Emma’s language is, and they say, “quality time.” The light bulb goes off, and they run to her, knowing she will always play with them. Taking ownership of loving each other is such a blessing in this household! How do you teach your children each other’s love language? Print out the results from the online quiz, call a family meeting, and share. I encourage you not to just say “words of affirmation” but to give examples of how they can do that.
I was talking about JOY and CONNECTION in class one day, and this is what one mom shared.
“The Lord told me that I was made for JOY, and I need to experience that with my kids. I am always the ‘get things done’ one, and my husband is more the ‘fun’ one. So the Lord told me to do something with my kids they would never expect from me – something that would make the biggest mess and bring so much laughter. This is with a vision of a chocolate syrup fight with my kids in the backyard. (EEEEEEKKKKK! The mess! The stains! The waste! Sticky chocolate fingerprints everywhere… ahhhhh! Hahaha.) We haven’t done it yet, but five bottles of chocolate syrup are on the grocery list. Lord have mercy!”
Words are important. God said let there be light and there was light.
Stop for a moment and dream about your ideal summer. What does it look like with connection and activities? How do you want to feel at the end of every day?
This is not a “name it -claim it” teaching, but a model of following our Father and speaking into existence that which is already available into the spirit realm.
Have a family meeting and together make declarations about what you want your summer to be about. Such as, “We will release joy everywhere we go.” “Our summer will be filled with joy.” “We will connect deeply as a family.” “We will love ourselves and others well.” “We will laugh daily.” “We will take responsibility for what is ours.” “We will grow as a family this summer.”
What we are declaring over our families becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When our children hear us communicating that we are dreading the summer or we are so glad school is starting again, it communicates to them the wrong worth and value. Ask Holy Spirit to highlight any false declarations that you have been declaring over yourself, your parenting or your children for the summer months. Ask for forgiveness, if needed.
Flipping Mindsets – Summer is when you get to regroup and get a new vision for your family. You get to shake off all of the events of last year, re-calibrate as a family, go after character growth, learn new skills for life, grow deeper in your connections, and build memories.
Family Rules – 3 big things were lost in the Garden; our sense of BELONGING, our WORTH and our SECURITY. Whatever our household rules, boundaries, limits, or ‘no’s are with children, it must be done in a loving way that still intentionally communicates that they have a place where they belong, that they are incredibly valuable and important and that they are secure and safe. Things like disunity, arguments between parents, ongoing sibling conflict, atmosphere of worry and stress, anger, belittling, disrespect, and lack of intentional family time can all inflict the orphan spirit. I am not talking about a one-time deal like you had a bad day and yelled once. I am talking about lifestyles and norms. Our goal in parenting should be to model heaven.
Rules – Review your household core values and rules as a family. If your children cannot tell you what the rules are, then it will be hard to expect them to govern themselves by them. Play a round of charades acting out what honor, respect, kindness, etc. looks like.
Vision – What is the vision you have for your family? If you do not know what you are aiming for then you will parent inconsistently, which will produce inconsistent and frustrating results for the whole family.
Face it, errands are a child’s least favorite ‘activity.’ Look for ways to engage them vs. just having them follow you around. Who can push the cart? Who can find the can of beans first? Who can open the door? Who can guess how long the line will take? Use the wait times to fill up their love tank and connect with their hearts (not check your phone). For older kids, empower them to help plan the menu and pick out the groceries. They can get out and wash your window while you pump the gas (I also have a child gather the trash from the car while I get gas). Make it fun and look for ways they can own part of the outing.