LOVE KEY

LOVE KEY

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!

OVERFLOWING

Ever had a hard day as an adult? Children have hard days at school, too. Sometimes they get tired of managing being told what to do, constantly learning new things, the pressure of tests, managing peers, the constant bombardment of atmospheres, and missing you! Children need to be filled with love and connection when they come home from school. This is why knowing their love language is so important. Be intentional and fill their tank. It doesn’t take long. Remember, children’s hearts leak quickly but fill fast. Simply showing interest in their day, offering an intentional hug, or spending time with them can align their hearts. I once met with a couple who talked about peers on the playground not being kind to them when they were younger. The wife said mean comments just rolled off her back while her husband became quite wounded from them. What was the difference between the two? Her love tank was filled often, and she was told who she was, while her husband felt isolated and empty most of the time growing up – filling the tanks DAILY matters!

LOVE WORKS

Do not just take my word for it. Hear what moms and dads around the globe are saying about their own experience learning how to speak their child’s language. 

“It is so true that when there is conflict, it is usually because a love tank is low. However, we often see it as a discipline issue, and when we punish, we withdraw from it more. I like seeing that visual image of it – it all makes sense now! We determined what love language each of our kids gravitate towards & 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! I’ve been spending 5-10 mins extra in the morning connecting with my 3yo (‘filling’ his love tank), and our transitions to daycare in the morning have been seamless. In the past, he struggled with that transition and would scream, cry, and cling to us as we tried to leave. Now he gives us a hug and a kiss goodbye and is then excited to go play with his friends! Teaching them to know not only their own but also their siblings’ is brilliant! Filling their bucket is so important. I need to be as intentional about that as I am about making sure they eat their fruits and vegetables. Ha! I am really seeing the need to take time out in the day with my busy work at home and make sure each child gets their tank filled. I have seen where I have not been laying myself down in this area and getting worn out. I even feel like if I can make some sacrifices to do this, I will feel more rested because the kids won’t be as demanding. I am so excited to try and teach my kids about the love languages for sibling rivalry. It makes so much sense. Thank you for planting the seed that when siblings are fighting, love tanks are low. I see the importance for all of us to know each other’s love language! A lot of times when our daughter starts acting out, we know that she is really just needing attention and connection. However, what she usually wants to do is spend quality time playing games, reading books, etc. While this is fine for me at times, I tend to be a pretty solitary person, so actively engaging all the time can be quite difficult when all I’m craving is some peaceful, quiet time alone. That said, I need to start doing these things because I don’t want her to be missing out on connecting with me just because it’s uncomfortable for me. We had this emphasized. Our 5yo was spiraling down when I arrived at the friend’s house she’d been staying with while I ran errands. The simple act of me offering a hug and giving the gift of sharing my tea was enough for her to be able to relax and be happy. Hubby has noticed that on the days he makes a conscious effort to play with each girl when he gets home from work, it makes a huge difference. Love this lesson! I asked all of my kids what they thought their love languages were, and they each identified a different one, and we had a great conversation about how we give and receive love. The hardest one for me is ‘gifts,’ and my middle one has that one. This really encourages me to keep finding ways to connect with my kids through THEIR love language and not my own!”

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.

A CHILD’S HEART

A child’s heart is smaller, so they leak quickly. But the good news is that they fill fast! An encouraging word, positive declaration, 60-second back rub, eye contact with a huge smile, notes in their lunch box, message on the mirror, helping them with homework or chores. It can also look like a balloon at the breakfast table, sitting together, helping them with their hair or outfit, eating together, etc., are all simple, quick ways that communicate love.

SIBLINGS’ LOVE TANKS

Your child needs to know not only their own language but their siblings’. When a child is aware of their needs, it makes it a lot easier for them to get their need met in a healthy way. Say their language is quality time, and yet they haven’t invested any time in their family; they are going to feel disconnected. Love tanks aren’t something to just passively let others fill. We can intentionally put ourselves on the path to be filled up. They can be doing things that encourage their needs to be met. Many times when there is conflict in my home, it is because their tanks are low with each other. While it would be so much easier to just separate the two ‘offending siblings,’ what they REALLY need is connection. When I see this is an issue, I will ask the child what their brother’s love language is and ask what she can do to fill it and vice versa. The older they get, the more I solve sibling issues this way than anything else. Disconnected kids act out like kids starving for attention!

FAILURE TO SEE

This story broke my heart when I heard it, and I haven’t been able to shake it. A young man was raised with legalistic parents. He went into the homosexual lifestyle and was cut off from every family member for not renouncing his ungodly lifestyle. He is in the midst of writing a book about his journey, which includes being raped as a small boy but never telling anyone. This I know for sure. After the rape, he acted out the splinters in his heart, as our bodies are not wired to hold onto that type of trauma. He was most likely angry, defiant, aggressive, rude, and/or withdrawn, yet was met with parents who had a high value for outward behavior. Could you imagine for a moment what it is like for a child to endure such brutal agony and then be spanked, isolated, or rejected while trying to process it? My heart screams out for children to be HEARD and for parents to understand what is happening inside their hearts. Our online class is not a product I am selling. It is a lifeline to HELP parents see and help their children. You cannot afford NOT to be empowered and equipped. Your children need to know you have the answers and tools to help them.

SPEAK UP

Of all the languages in the world, the most confusing is silence. Silence shouldn’t be a language we are communicating to our children as it opens them up to the enemy to fill in the blanks for them (and he will, it just won’t be something that brings life). Make it a point TODAY to intentionally tell your child how you feel about them!

IS IT WORTH IT?

We were at the pool one day, and Hudson sneaked up behind Emma, who was sitting by the edge, not wanting to get wet. He motioned to me if he could throw her in. I responded, “You can, but will it help your connection with her?” He took a second to realize the joy of the victory would not be worth the splash it would make in their connection. I have taught my children over and over and over that the way they treat each other today will affect tomorrow. It may feel ‘good’ to be powerful today, but tomorrow you will reap the fruit of a low account with them.

GIFT OF LOVE

“My son turned five last week. His primary love language is words of affirmation. So, I had an idea to make a little ‘guest’ book for everyone coming to his birthday party. I had everyone write something to him – one thing they love about him. After his party, we sat and read everyone’s words to him – he loved it! No birthday meltdowns. Just told me at the end of the night, ‘My love tank is overflowing!'”

THE GREATEST GIFT

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.