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.
My heart is heavy for the parents facing hard things with their children. I want to encourage you with the following: #1. ANGER – Be mad, let it out, and process those emotions. Scream in a pillow, journal, beat the sandbag, go for a hike, vent to a friend – whatever you have to do to GET THOSE EMOTIONS OUT! You cannot afford to carry the weight of those emotions with you. Get them out so you can let them go. #2. GRIEF – Many of you are grieving. Grieving for your family, your child’s heart, the plans for the year, and your ability to juggle it all. This is real and must be acknowledged. Grab your journal and begin, “God, I am so sad that…” #3. HOPE – It is hard to be anchored in hope if you carry around a lump in your throat, are ready to explode, or feel like a victim. Processing your emotions and heart will help you move into HOPE. Hope is anchored in THE truth, not the facts our circumstances scream at us. Declare the TRUTH! God has not left you. You have what it takes to not only survive but thrive. You will know what to do (because He lives inside of you).
God has keys and strategies for your situation. He works all things out for good, He sees your world, and He cares. He has a solution – ask Him! It is going to be okay. Your child is going to be okay. YOU are going to be okay!
Without connection, we can use spiritual tools to drive a wedge between our children and their Father. The Pharisees were all about obeying the law perfectly, and Jesus was about the person. We can parent to keep our children in line with perfect expectations, or we can parent the child as an important, valuable, and unique human being who is in training to become a successful adult. One focuses on what they DO, while the other focuses on who they ARE.
I used to parent based on my child’s behavior, modeling the popular WWJD – “What would Jesus do?”. Jesus never hit, backtalked, pinched his sister, slammed doors, disobeyed, etc., so whenever those ‘ungodly’ traits would appear, I would discipline for it. I was a strong believer in raising kids who modeled the outward behavior of Jesus. I probably would have even admitted that it didn’t matter much what was going on inside their hearts because if I could train them to do it ‘right’ on the outside, eventually, it would sink into their heart. Anytime they were out of line, I felt anxious, and in my view, I thought I looked bad to others. If my child had a meltdown at the mall or displayed a lack of self-control at a restaurant, it meant I was a bad mom. It was a fear-based cycle of needing to control their outward behavior so that I felt good about myself as a parent. Their immature choices were more about my feelings than their training and development. I’m not sure parenting ever works that way, but what it produces is legalism and a religious spirit that tells the child that we don’t really care about what is happening inside them; we want them to perform to make us feel good. Kids are taught their behavior matters and they do not. They are taught God is a ruler maker who disciplines imperfection. They are trained to hide their true selves. They are introduced to isolation and loneliness. They feel like something is wrong with them. Can you relate? Is Holy Spirit showing you that there is room to grow in your focus from controlling their outward behavior to parenting the heart? If yes, we have to respond to Him. There won’t be any transformation unless we are willing to let Him move us.
HeartWork – Grab your journal and spend some intentional time today asking for forgiveness for caring more about your child’s behavior than their heart. Cry out to God, ask Him to teach you how to parent the way He parents us. He cares about your heart.
By God’s design, dads are the ones who speak protection, provision, and identity over children. I want to stir up the anointing that each father has to speak protection and covering over their child. I implore you to rise up as the superhero that you are in your child’s life and cover them with the cape of your words.
Here are some creative ways to communicate covering to your child:
- Put a big blanket around your back and outstretch your arms like wings.
- Come to them and pull them close under your wing and tell them that just like the blanket offers shelter, you are there to cover and protect them.
- Read with them Matthew 18:10 and show them that they have a personal angel assigned to them.
- Put your hand over their heart and pray over them. Tell them that you are so glad God allowed you to be their dad and that you take your job to keep them safe seriously.
- Validate that a lot is going on in the world right now but that they are safe and secure in your house.
- Ask them if they are worried or concerned about anything and process it together. Just asking alone makes them feel safe and secure.
- Gather the family and read out loud Psalms 91. Act out parts of the verse to help them understand deeper.
- Intentionally speak their love language today. If you do not know what it is, take the online quiz as a family to discover each person’s language of love.
Break agreement with the lie that your wife is better at this stuff than you are. God has given you a powerful role to speak protection over your family, and they need to be reminded of that in this hour when so much is swirling around in the atmosphere. Go be their superhero!
P.S. This is for dads of children of all ages. Adult children need to hear words of protection and covering over their fathers too. Pick up the phone and leave them a voicemail or shoot them a message.
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!
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.
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!”
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. I have seen the messiest of situations, exasperated parents, and the most challenging children MELT with the ointment of love.
Grab a bag of Hershey chocolate kisses or a package of paper hearts and randomly place them where your child will find it. Attach a sticky note with a sweet note and let them find the surprise on their own.
Hide them throughout the house like an Easter egg hunt. Call a FAMILY MEETING and fix the ‘rules’ according to your family needs (such as many younger kids focus on a certain room where they are more obviously hidden, while older kids have to find the harder ones). Don’t think this is just for little ones – big kids love the adventure too! Fun way to release JOY!
Kids need to HEAR and SEE your love for them now more than ever!
Your child’s language of love is one of your biggest parenting tools for your tool belt because love conquers ALL.
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.