NOT SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE

NOT SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE

A mom shared: “My husband was verbally praising one of our daughters. Just moments later, she was in an angry outburst toward one of her siblings. When we asked her what was going on inside her after we had just spent the time telling her how wonderful she was, she responded, ‘Words of affirmation is my lowest love language. You guys saying all that great stuff about me didn’t do anything for me.’ Yikes! But she was right and honest. It was a big wake-up call.” 

Lisa’s response: May I add to that? Intentionally filling her up with a different language triggered her because it reminded her that *her* language was not being spoken. It is like you are craving chocolate, and someone gives you a fish. Fish is good for you, but it triggers your longing for chocolate. While words of affirmation is always a good thing, because her tank was low, it actually had a negative effect. I think that is what was behind her anger at that moment. Love that she was able to articulate it so well and that you could hear her heart. Go for her language to get a bulls-eye into her heart.

FALSELY ACCUSED

My daughter got in the car, and I asked her why she broke my favorite mug. She had a shocked look on her face and was trying to process how to respond. I asked her again why she broke my mug. Finally, she said with almost tears in her eyes, “Mom, I promise I didn’t break it.” I assured her I knew because the mug wasn’t broken, but I reminded her that just moments before, she was accusing her brother of something I did, not him. Instantly she understood how awful it felt to be falsely accused of something. She apologized, and we had a good chat about not being so quick to formulate judgment until you have all the facts. 

Proverbs 18:13 (The Message) – “Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.” 

Proverbs 18:13 (NIV) – “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.”

WALKING THROUGH TRAUMA

I wanted to give you a few things to consider regarding children walking through trauma (crisis, divorce, death, a move). 

Talk – Children also endure what adults in the home are going through. Use age-appropriate language and ask them questions about what they saw, how they felt, what it was like for them, etc. Give them permission to talk. A great way to access their heart is by asking questions. Let Holy Spirit lead you in the conversation. Another great way to help them release what is in their hearts is by drawing pictures. Ask them to illustrate how their heart feels about the event. Be intentional to have family time alone together and check in to see how everyone is doing and where they are at in processing everything. I generally ask, “How is your heart feeling, and what do you need right now?” 

Fear – Being scared is normal in the time of danger, but now that danger is over, we don’t want to continue to partner with it as it can turn into fear which welcomes the wrong spirit. If you see signs your child is holding onto the concern that something bad will happen, remind them they are safe, that the trauma is over and that God isn’t the one giving them that emotion, but instead God gives us power, love, and peace in our minds (1 Tim 1:7). If the fear continues, you may need to walk your child through commanding the fear to go in Jesus’ name AND inviting Holy Spirit to come and fill their mind, eyes, and emotions with peace, comfort, and joy. If your child reports an image they saw and it replays in their minds over and over, validate their concern over the issue, “Sweetie, I am so sorry you had to see that. It must have been so scary for you.” I would then remind them that Jesus’ blood covers it all and that we can use His blood to wash our minds. My kids would act out pouring His blood on their hands and then wash their minds (like pouring shampoo and washing your hair). “Jesus, we invite You to wash our minds of these images and fill them with Your love.” This is a powerful way for children to apply the blood of Jesus to their situation. 

Joy – Returning children to joy is essential in trauma. It releases a chemical in their brain that helps them rise above challenging circumstances. While we can’t always change our circumstances, we can invite joy into them. Perhaps it is a 5-minute dance party, jumping on the bed, a game of balloon volleyball, or a tickle attack. Do not underestimate the power of these pockets of joy for children in a crisis. 

Connection – Just because you are together 24/7 doesn’t mean you are connecting. Know their love language and intentionally fill it. Children’s love tanks empty quickly but fill fast. Connection is golden during this time, and it is an intentional verb. Go after 1:1 connection today. Grab a soda and sit in a corner alone together to talk, rub their back while holding them, tell them how proud you are of them for the way they have handled things, give them something as a token of your love for them (a note on their bed, a pack of gum, or a quick trip to the store to pick something out). etc. Be intentional. 

Limited Screen Time – I know it is hard because many are bored, and you want to be on your phone a lot too, but I strongly encourage you to try and limit it. Their hearts need real human contact and connection, not a lifeless screen. 

Build Their Faith – This is where we get to help our children see Jesus in the midst of the storm. Yes, it was awful, but we spend time focusing on calling out where Jesus was. Yes, we had a fire in our city, but Jesus kept us safe. Yes, we had to leave our home, but Jesus provided us with a hotel room/friends. Yes, we lost our beloved Whiskeytown, but God designed His creation to grow new life… keep it going. Validate the reality but focus on Him. These are bricks in their faith. God was there. God was in control. God helped me. The next time they are afraid, in need, or walking through a storm, you can remind them of their history with God, “Remember when we had to leave our home, and God took care of us? Let’s ask Him to do it again for you in this situation.” This is how they build their faith and confidence in Him. 

Peace – Peace is His Presence, and nothing ushers it in more than worship. Be intentional about having family worship time. He changes us in worship and realigns us to His face. Increase soaking time where you just put on music, lay still, and encounter His Presence. This is super important for children. Parents, you are enough during this season of chaos and pain, and you will know what to do because He dwells inside you. You will not only overcome this as a family, but it will make you stronger.

SMALL HEARTS

The hard thing about a child’s heart is that it is small and empties quickly. The good thing about a child’s heart is that it is small and fills fast. Be intentional about filling them back up again today!

LOVE COVERS

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!

DO NOT PLAY THE GAME

As a parent, how does this story make you feel? Johnny walks up to his younger sister, minding her own business, punches her, and then tells her she doesn’t belong in the family. OUCH! What if mom walked in and got all the other siblings against Johnny, making him feel like the outsider, as if his bad attitude meant he no longer belonged? This is the recipe for some serious family dysfunction and pain. Johnny’s behavior clearly needs to be addressed because it is not in alignment with God’s heart, but he is operating out of being an orphan and needs the love of a Father, not rejection. This would not be okay in our family and should not be okay in God’s family. Can’t you see? It is not a gay/straight, John/Beth, He said/She said, Kanye/Church, Pastor/Flock issue. This is a dividing issue from the enemy bent on destroying God’s family. DO NOT PLAY THE GAME. Do not pick sides. Do not pick a winner because if there is a winner, there must be a loser, and we do not treat family that way. 

There are only two camps of people – those who are Sons/Daughters and those who are still operating as orphans (even Christians can be orphans). If Johnny does not have eyes to see his sister’s worth, then he needs a revelation from God. The Bible says people cannot see because they have scales on their eyes. Isaiah 44:18 reads, “They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.” Your prayers that the scales from a brother’s eyes be removed will be more effective than your social media posts against him. If you are taking sides and have not prayed for the scales to be removed from his eyes, then you could very well be just as guilty of participating in dividing God’s family. We are ONE family. ONE Body. If a brother and sister argue, they need love, not sides. I ache over the words spoken against family members, but I want to be an agent of restoration (through prayer), not further division. Which side are you on? Neither! We are on the same side, serving the same God as ONE Body.

HELPING KIDS LOVE

I often buy fun treats or trinket toys and give them to one of my children to give to their siblings, adding their own ‘creative flair’ to communicate love. For example, my oldest made some lovely notes for her siblings and put some sweet treats on their beds for them to come home to after school. I believe that by assisting them with ideas that communicate love to one another, they are strengthening their sibling relationships and learning how to communicate love to their friends, future spouse, and their children someday. I want them to be people who know how to love well!

RUNNING ON EMPTY

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.

HEALING HUGS

My friend shared: “Our oldest was having a hard time tonight. Overtired, over being quarantined, whatever the reason, he was really struggling. My husband swooped in and gave him a hug that lasted probably 5 minutes. And all was well in the world again. As parents, knowing when a timeout or other discipline is needed is a skill. Or when it’s time for a long, wordless, healing hug, I’m thankful to witness my husband parent our kids this way – and I’m grateful that the Father of heaven also parents us with such kindness.”

HURTFUL WORDS

Do you have an issue with hurtful words (and tones) in your family? Try this teaching exercise. Get a really fancy plate at the thrift store. Speak in a soft, gentle tone and explain to the children the dish is like a person’s heart and how careful we need to be with it. When they least expect it say something hurtful in a sharp tone and smash the plate to the ground (this works great in the garage on a tarp). They will be shocked that you just did that. Begin to put the pieces back together again but show them that you can’t. Share with them that once our words are spoken, we can’t take them back, and sometimes we say things in a way that hurts their heart. Another great way to do it is with a tube of toothpaste. Have the kids squeeze it out on wax paper. After a few moments of fun, ask them in a serious tone to put the toothpaste back in the tube. No matter how hard they try, they won’t be able to. Explain that the tube is like their mouth, and we have to be careful what comes out because we can’t put it back in. 

***Obviously, there is always forgiveness, and God is faithful to clean up our mistakes and messes when we ask for help, but this teaching focuses on teaching children to be wise with their words.  In the days ahead, when you hear them speaking to one another in a harsh tone, ask them if they want to deal with the mess their tone will create if they continue. Chances are, if they aren’t able to change, it could be that their tone is revealing a deeper hurt between siblings that need to be addressed.

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

LOVE MATTERS

It is so important that we understand this reality: Every person speaks a language, but that does not mean that he or she is communicating. We often assume that children should know we love them because we express it in a variety of ways. The reality is, however, that children are living in homes where parents are fluent in a language they know nothing about. Just because you work hard, provide a big home, clean, cook, do laundry, wipe snotty noses, change diapers, travel to Disney, and then repeat, does not mean that you are speaking their language. It means that you are an incredible parent who loves your children so much that you are willing to sacrifice your time and finances for them but have perhaps missed how to make sure all your hard work is actually being received. 

Have you ever had those days when you feel like you are constantly butting heads with a child or when they seem to be going out of their way to be a bully to their siblings, yet nothing you do seems to work? Children with empty tanks, even with siblings, will often fight to get it filled. Disconnected kids act out like kids starving for attention! We are sending our children out into the world where they will encounter a wide variety of situations. They are growing and learning spiritually, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and physically at a rapid rate. Sending them out with a heart tank full of love helps them process, weather, endure, overcome and succeed far greater than the child who is on empty. The more they experience love at home, the more they will be able to handle what comes their way. Isn’t that true for you?

Picture an airport full of people wanting to board a particular flight going overseas that is only made once a month. It is a crucial connection for many people. There isn’t an option of getting there by another airline. People need THIS flight. An announcement is made that the plane has moved to a different gate, but it is in Arabic. How many people would miss their flight simply because THEIR language was not spoken? All the components to make the connection are there: the plane, pilot, purchased ticket, and even the announcement, but the communication was not received. How many kids miss that their parents love them simply because THEIR language isn’t spoken? These parents have given them everything, worked hard, and have a heart full of love, yet their kids wander through life not experiencing it. I find it interesting that CONNECTION is one of the words used to describe communication and that the opposite of communication is defined as WITHHOLDING. This is where understanding our individual love languages is such a vital key. I look at effectively speaking someone’s love language like an umbilical cord connecting two people. When you accurately speak another person’s language, what you release actually enters into their heart and soul. Knowing their language is like hitting the bull’s eye!

Homework – Go to The Love Language™ Quiz (5lovelanguages.com) and have YOUR CHILD take the quiz. Print them out and talk about them as a family (even Mom and Dad’s language). At the end of the quiz, there is an option to sign up for the weekly email, which is a short and sweet list of creative ways to speak love each week. Make sure you sign up for the newsletter, and they will send you short, quick, easy weekly reminders and creative suggestions for how to speak each language. A child’s heart is smaller, so they leak quickly. But the good news is that they fill fast! We owe it to our children to do our part in giving them what they need each day to succeed. Be intentional. Fill the tank. Reap the results!!