Strained Relationships With Your Children: Here’s the Solution (Pt. 2)

I’VE HAD AN EPIPHANY! The 5 Love languages do not only apply to romantic relationships…they apply to parents and children too!  Well, of course it wasn’t my original idea. Dr. Gary Chapman explains it all in The Five Love Languages of Children.  I just feel so enlightened because if his findings are true, that would explain the agony I endured as a child and still endure today!  It would explain the frustration the adults charged with the nearly, insurmountable task of raising me felt, just the same as so many others do with their children! With this information, I can ward off conflict ahead of time with my own child, and keep our bond tight and secure. As you read this, honestly assess whether you are speaking to your children in their primary love language.  Then, make adjustments and share your language(s) so that your parent-child relationships flow smoothly. We have previously covered Five Reasons Romantic Love Fails. Now, lets take a look at some reasons you may need to adjust your approach with your children.

Below are five SIX signs that you and your child are speaking different “love languages”:

  • You and your child often “clash.” Your son says he cannot talk to you about anything, or when you try to talk with him, he shuts down. You want to spend quality time with him, but he’d rather be alone in his room or out with friends.
  • Your daughter appears to take for granted, all the things you buy or all the things you do for her, and seems to resent you and often tells you that you’re never “there” for her.
  • You find yourself saying these things to your child often: “Why is it, that every time I turn around, you’re asking me to buy something for you, but I have to remind you constantly to help out around the house?”
  • You are insanely irritated when you walk into the house and see that your teenager has not taken out the garbage or washed the dishes without being told.
  • You begin thinking that your child did not complete his chores because he does not truly love you. You ask yourself, “Doesn’t he appreciate ANYTHING?”
  • Your child absolutely hates being hugged and kissed (especially in public). It hurts your feelings and you begin to take it personally.

Disclaimer: For all those who said just then, “No! That child is just in need of a good old-fashioned butt whipping!” Please hear me out, and consider reading this book!

Tonight, I am going to have my daughter take The 5 Love Languages Assessment for Children ages 9-12.  I’ve already asked her which language says “I love you” to her the most.  After a brief explanation of each language, she answered very emphatically, “Physical Touch.”  However, I want to know for certain.  The reason is, that everyone has their own interpretation of what love is.  Some will judge others (in a scornful fashion) based on whether or not they show love for people in the very same manner that they do.  It can be maddening!  For instance, I’m surprised that my daughter has any skin left on her cheeks with all the kisses I’ve planted on them over the years.  I cherish our heart-to-heart talks, and I’ll start a conversation with her about her feelings in a heartbeat! That’s just it! That’s how I show love! Her father may subscribe to the notion that doing things for her when she asks, or committing various Acts of Service is the key to her heart. Again, that’s how he shows love! It’s certainly not a competition. Although two parents may express different love languages, neither parent should discredit the other’s love for the child.  I like to think of it as two people working together to meet all of the child’s needs according to the strengths each parent brings to the table. The key is, I’ve got to figure out how she feels and gives love!

In Broken Glass, I tell about strained relationships throughout my lifetime. I’ve pondered often, why things happened the way they did, and why some relationships made it and others failed. Sometimes it’s easy to say to yourself, “Well, there must be something wrong with me!” What I’ve learned to say now is, “That person and I just weren’t a good fit.” Looking back, my grandmother was the master of Acts of Service!  She cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, swept, and made the beds everyday (great, and thank you eternally, Ma-ma).  Conversely, she was quite harsh verbally when she corrected my behavior, she didn’t seem to ever want to hug me or play with me, she rarely liked to talk about anything of any substance, and she disliked spending quality time with me, just for the sake of enjoying each other’s company.  What all of this means, is that no matter what she did for me, it did not feel like love to me. At the same time, I’m sure she felt slighted when the things she did for me did not soften my heart toward her.  Remember, my primary love languages are Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. Therefore, no matter how often my mother would say to me, “Joan, that’s your grandmother and she loves you,” I thought it was the biggest load of bull malarkey ever!

In contrast, my mother mostly cooked on Saturday mornings (if then). Regarding other Acts of Service, I don’t recall Mom being domestic much at all. What we did share however, was lots of quality time.  We’d spend hours watching sports together on television, or the typical 80’s “cop” shows.  We often sat out on the front porch and sang popular music.  I remember sitting in her lap and receiving all the hugs and kisses my little heart desired. We would talk all the time about things that I could talk to no one else about.  She assured me that I could be anything in life I wanted, as long as I put my mind to it.  Those displays of affection, time, and communication made me feel loved.

Now I wonder if love languages are innate, or learned… nature vs nurture.  Were the happenings during the first 5-10 years of my life the determining factors which made up the ways I give and receive love, or are my love languages to blame for the way I handled those experiences? Could it be that if my primary love language was Acts of Service instead of Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch,that my story would be written totally differently?  Would I memorialize my grandmother for all the things she did for me, and denounce my mother for all she did not do?  Would I consider the talks Mom and I shared to be lip service and empty promises?  Would I have exhibited a better attitude toward my grandmother, feeling that she carried out those chores and household duties for me with love? Perhaps.

What’s more, similar conflict began to arise with my new family, not long after Mom passed.  For example, they loved me by cooking many nights of the week, teaching me how to do certain chores, and by buying clothes, games, music and other things that I needed and wanted.  Yet, I often felt so unfulfilled. I felt plain empty inside. They couldn’t understand how on earth I could come from a life of poverty, and suddenly have access to material things I could have only wished for before, and not seem appreciative.  I must have been 20 years old before I revealed to them that the material things were nice, (including the car) but I’d give it all back in exchange for more attendance at my basketball games, or random phone calls to my dorm room just to check on me.  At the same time, I wasn’t committing Acts of Service in return to them! Well, I wasn’t voluntarily committing any. So I’m sure they questioned my love for them too! I just feel now, that life would have been so much easier to handle if I’d had this knowledge years ago. I’ve been thinking all this time that I’ll never find a love as strong as the love I shared with my mother.  It could simply be that, I haven’t found anyone who speaks my language yet.

This is the type of scenario that causes people to feel misunderstood in life.  This is where the phrases, “She means well” or “He just doesn’t know any better” probably originated. This is the very reason a child might make poor decisions regarding their future. Think of someone whom after growing up (and making a bad choice), people stated, “But his parents gave him the world!  He never wanted for anything!” That’s what YOU think!  Perhaps, his love tank was empty. Parents, you cannot buy a child’s love and respect if Receiving Gifts is NOT his or her love language. Take the quiz, buy The Five Love Languages of Children, and change the way you approach parenting from this day forward.

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