“You are the best mom I have ever known.” When those words come out of my husband’s mouth I melt into a puddle. He knows me better than anyone else on earth and he knows how to speak my love language: words of affirmation. In his book, The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman talks about how every individual has both a love language in which they give love and a love language in which they receive love. Once you are informed about the 5 love languages and figure out which one is most applicable to you and the other person in the relationship, then you can better understand and interact with one another. Yes, it is very useful in an intimate relationship, but I have found it also helps improve your relationship with your kids.
Which Love Language are you?
The 5 love languages include physical touch, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, and acts of service. Like I mentioned, I am very much a “words of affirmation” girl. Give me a compliment about my hair and you’ll be my best friend. Give me a compliment about my great parenting and, apparently, I’ll melt into a puddle.
Most parents with more than one child learn VERY quickly (like while they’re an infant, quickly) that each child is VERY different. They may look alike and come from the same gene pool, but that does not mean they act alike. Just when you feel you are becoming an “expert” at understanding one child, BOOM. You birth another one and start at square one. I made the mistake of assuming since my second-born son slept through the night since the day we brought him home, then surely my third son would follow suit. WRONG. One of the many things I have assumed as a Mom and then been quite wrong about.
So, yes. My three sons are all very different which makes us parent them in different ways as well. Their differences also apply to their love languages. What makes one feel loved doesn’t always work for the others and vice versa.
My oldest son’s love language is receiving gifts. Honestly, any time he opens anything new you would think it is Christmas morning. It could just be that he helped me with groceries and saw that I got him his favorite cookies and he shrieks with delight. You can imagine just how joy-filled the ACTUAL Christmas morning is at our house. I know if I really want to connect with him I just need to show him love by getting him an unexpected gift. Or even an unexpected Happy Meal.
My middle son’s love language is physical touch. I think it is because when he was born his older brother was 21-months-old and I didn’t want big brother to, you know, “accidentally knock him out of his swing”, or “accidentally jump on his head with all his weight”. So, I wore baby number two strapped to my body, pretty much at all times. It could be innate, or baby number two could have learned at a young age that he felt very safe and loved because he was ALWAYS on mommy’s chest.
Either way, I know that my middle son feels most connected to me when we are hugging, holding hands, or even wrestling. Anything that involves physical touch makes him feel seen. We even play this game called “filling his love cup”. He tells me his love cup is on empty and I need to squeeze, tickle, and hug him until he tells me his “love cup is overflowing so much it is shooting to the moon.”
Then we’ve got kid number three. The one that is forced into being easygoing because he has no choice. From the day he entered our world he was on-the-go. He was dragged to big brothers’ school drop-offs and pick-ups, soccer practices, playdates, etc. It makes sense that his love language would be quality time because, unfortunately, it is not something that he gets organically. It is something we need to really schedule for him to feel like he is the one getting one-on-one connection time with mom and/or dad. When he looks up at me and says, “Will you play with me, Mama?” I know he needs that time to connect and try not to brush him off to vacuum another mountain of crumbs.
Love Language: Relational Beings
God made us relational, but He also made us all unique. It’s no shock that Chapman highlights FIVE different love languages because unique humans are going to give and receive love in their own unique ways. The one thing that doesn’t change is that we love because God first loved us. And He placed that desire for love and connection in our hearts. I encourage you to learn about love languages, first in your marriage, and second with your kids and see how it shifts the dynamic of your home.
When you are trying to connect with your child, or maybe diffuse a tense moment with them try approaching it by tapping into their love language. Try hugging your kid during a tantrum. It took me a while to get this one right, but if Kid 2, “physical touch” boy, is feeling BIG emotions and I remember to hug him and cradle him through it, it has a much brighter (and shorter) outcome. Or try scheduling 10 minutes of “special” time with that kid that gets filled up by “quality time”. And if you have a kid, like mine, that just glows from receiving a gift, go buy that toy they’ve been begging you for, for no reason. Watch them light up!