As parents, we unquestionably love our children. How could anyone resist a cuddly and smiling infant? However, during the teenage years, our love is often put to the test with teenage attitudes and behaviors. Yet, our love remains unquestionable. But, does your teenager know it?
The book, The Five Languages of Love, by Dr. Gary Chapman speaks about 5 primary ways/language of expressing our love. For each individual, there is usually 1 primary love language which determines if your child emotionally feels loved. The younger the child, the more important it is for the parent to demonstrate all 5 love languages. As the child matures, it becomes critical to demonstrate his/her primary love language on a regular basis.
The following is a brief summary of the 5 love languages:
- Quality Time. This love language requires time when a parent can give the child undivided attention. Simply being in the same room while attending other duties does not qualify as Quality Time. Some activities might include taking a 5 minute walk and listening about his day, or reading time together on the sofa. If your child is asking for you to play with him, he is asking for Quality Time. If your teenager wants a ride somewhere or wants you to attend an activity with him, he is asking for Quality Time.
- Words of Affirmation. This love language requires positive speech and praise, but not necessarily flattery. When you observe your child being honest and trustworthy, tell her. When your teenager is being dependable and helpful around the house, thank her and tell her how much you appreciate her maturity. If your child is often telling you verbally “I love you,” she is demonstrating Words of Affirmation. Most teenagers are limited with their expressive speech at this stage, but occasionally they will squeak out a thank-you or compliment; enjoy it!
- Acts of Service. This love language requires thoughtful actions that demonstrate your love. This love language may seem synonymous with the role of a mother, since a mother is constantly doing something for her child and family. If you observe your child wanting to help you with chores, your simple act of making his lunch or doing his laundry will speak volumes of love- maybe even more than your words.
- Receiving Gifts. This love language shows up as little thoughtful trinkets that are homemade or bought. If your child is constantly making you crafts on her own account and giving them to you as a present, she is speaking the language of Receiving Gifts. In return, a small gift of a hair clip or special pencil given on an ordinary day makes your child feel loved all year long.
- Physical Touch. This love language does not equate and is not limited to intimate touch. It can be a heartfelt hug, a pat on the back, a tousling of the hair, or even a wrestling match. A child with this love language might seem to cling to you on all occasions, but he might just be expressing his love for you. Even when your teen seems too big or too embarrassed, a hug may be just what he needs for a rough day.
Take some time this month to reflect on your child’s primary love language. It is not always the same as your own love language, and sometimes it takes real effort to express love in the language that your child understands and emotionally feels. Dr. Chapman’s website, http://www.5lovelanguages.com, has an on-line resource to help you determine your child’s primary love language.