Almost six beautiful years, three spirited children and two pets later, Josh and I still question each other's Love Tanks, and reference this book. About a year and half ago, after the boys were born, Josh and I wanted to take the "Love Languages Quiz" again, to see if our Love Language was still what it was prior to marriage. We were both SHOCKED to discover that our love languages had changed! I couldn't believe it. I figured this was something that stuck with you your whole life!
In 2008, Josh and I both shared the Love Language "Physical Touch" as our spoken language. We spoke this language in different dialects. Josh spoke his more sexually, where I spoke mine in the cuddling, hand holding sort of way. The last time we took the quiz, my physical touch language was towards the BOTTOM of my love language list! NO WONDER I hadn't felt like Josh was speaking my language...he wasn't! He would try - oh he would try so hard, but I kept pushing him away...I didn't want to be touched! It was at that point that we realized, YES, our love language CAN change! Think about it - we have three young children, all demanding our attention. Twin babies (now they are 2.5 years old) who were in my arms constantly....no wonder I didn't want to be touched...
I loved it when Josh was doing dishes for me, or folding laundry, but I didn't realize, until after we took the quiz again, that "Acts of Service" was my "new" love language. To this day, I feel Josh's love when he helps out, when he takes care of us. I feel a sense of relief that it is one less thing that I need to do around the house. I still enjoy holding hands, having him hug/hold me, but there are times when I really truly - DO NOT - want to be touched! If you have little children, you can completely relate to this!
Now let's turn our focus on LOVE - REAL love! Knowing you are loved! I came across my book, The Five Love Languages book this summer and recalled hearing he had written a book called, The Five Love Languages of Children. He as in Gary Chapman! I thought, I should probably start reading this so I can really show my own children how much I love them and how much they mean to me. We started our search for the book - why I didn't order it online is beyond me! I would search for it, forget about it and move on.
There were times throughout the year that Josh and I would try to determine which love language our children were based on the information we already knew from having read the book for ourselves - with an adult focus. There were so many things that would come up and we would figure "That is Callie" or "This is definitely Carter" and "Yup, this is Collin!".
I finally came across this book at Barnes in Noble last month. Seriously - I should have ordered it online!
This book is a VERY quick read, and I highly recommend it! The recommendation in the book is to begin determining your child's love language when they are around the age of 5+...knowing mine are all under the age of 4, I wasn't sure how this book would help me better understand HOW my children feel love.
I started looking back when our kids first began to talk. I wanted so badly to hear them say to me, "I Love You", but now I look back and think to myself, 'Why did you force that? They didn't know what love was.' They didn't know what they were saying. It meant so much to hear those sweet words come out of each of their mouths "I wuv wou" - Oh how I will always cherish them! Looking back now, I kind of feel bad, because to my children, they were three little words that hadn't developed any meaning yet.
THANKFULLY, Josh and I show love to each other and to our children. It started the first day we met them. Holding them, kissing their "straight from the womb" bodies, counting and kissing their 10 beautiful fingers and 10 beautiful toes. Rubbing their little fuzzy hair, kissing the top of their precious head. Speaking to them in the sweet, high pitched voice! Holding, cuddling, carrying, soothing, etc... That is love, this was how we showed our children we loved them from the moment they were first born.
Did they feel that love? Did they know that the eyes looking down at them, holding the, protecting them loved them more than anything in the world? Would do anything to protect them and keep pain from them? I sure hope so. I believe God spoke to all of us that day, shared that bond together, taught each of us what Love really is!
Now that our children are a little older, young human being with attitudes, desires, wants, needs and the obsession for candy and treats - do my kids KNOW that I love them? Am I speaking to them the way they interpret love? Do they go to bed every night feeling comforted knowing they are my everything? Have I succeeded as their mother for the day in giving them a full heart?
There are five love languages you can speak to your children and to others. I am not writing this FOR the book. I am simply writing this because I have been thinking about it, and I have the time to blog right now (recovering from surgery gives you a lot of time to read and reflect!).
1. Physical Touch
2. Words of Affirmation
3. Quality Time
5. Acts of Service
3. Quality Time
5. Acts of Service
Physical Touch - there is so much in here that Josh and I already do with our children, but the major, key points, will affect us when our children are older. Things that I never would have thought about as a parent raising a growing child. One reaching middle school and high school. Our kids LOVES to snuggle - all of them! Collin prefers to snuggle his favorite pal Max (stuffed dog) and Elsa (our German Shepard). Callie LOVES snuggling on the couch with us, but soon loses interest. Carter LOVES to snuggle as well, but prefers to be carried and/or held. This video is of Carter REALLY upset because I can't pick him up due to my surgery. He has really been struggling with this and has often called Dr. Nace "mean" for doing this to me. Poor boy - I hate seeing him sad for THIS reason.
Words of Affirmation - The key part from this section that REALLY stood out to me is something that I FINALLY caught myself saying to Collin. You see, Collin is a biter. He bites Carter all the time and is very quick to become upset. The other day, Collin started crying because Carter took something away from him. I was sitting back watching this entire thing unfold, waiting for Collin to bite Carter out of revenge and anger. Instead, Collin came running to me, crying. He was so upset. Without realizing what I was doing, I praised Collin for coming to me and telling me what happened. I praised him for not biting Carter! I then asked Collin if he'd like to go talk to Carter about taking the shovel from Collin. It was at that moment that I realized how much this meant to Collin. His eyes lit up, he willingly talked to Carter about the shovel, and he was calm. I hated myself after I reflected on this moment - so many times I jumped down Collin's throat, yelling at him for biting or hitting. I had never actually praised him for coming to me and discussing what had happened. Was I creating a bully out of him? Was I the one making him continually biting, because it was "to be expected?" Then I thought about Carter, constantly being coddled and held, felt bad for because he was always the victim of being bit. What image am I giving Collin? Am I showing more love towards Carter than Collin? It kills me thinking about this, but at the same time, I am so thankful that I am realizing this NOW, when they are 2.5 year old, and I can make these changes. It makes me wonder who else is going through this - who else shows this towards their children without realizing it. I know I have done this to Callie. I try so hard to be conscious of EVERYTHING I say to Callie. She is a sponge. She is so intelligent and so insightful. She takes EVERYTHING to heart. If I try to speak to her about how her words affected someone else, you can actually see the moment she realizes the pain she has caused, because she immediately begins to cry. She's 4.5 years old and she has such an empathetic heart that it sometimes makes me feel bad that I am not a better role model to her. I remember watching the Miss America pageant with her this year, her daddy and I were making comments on the contestants during the swim suit phase of competition. Callie said to the both of us, "That is not nice to say, they are all really pretty!" - Oh my goodness, Callie, you are so right! These girls were all gorgeous with perfect bodies. Who am I to talk, 31 years old, stretch marks all over my stomach, cellulite on my legs and rolls on my stomach. Who am I to talk?
My children are very insightful individuals, very caring, very honest and very loving. I do not want to do anything to jeopardize this. I need to encourage it and help build it!
Quality Time - Oh boy does every toddler speak to this love language! I can't tell you how many times I have suffered the "In a minute" or "Let me finish this one thing" or "I'm making dinner" - I'm not perfect, nor will I ever be. I can; however, make changes in myself so I speak of quality time with my children vs. just "time". My kids do help with dinner often, but maybe not often enough. Maybe I need to start involving my children MORE in dinner preparations. I am notorious for saying, "Let me finish this one thing, THEN I will come play _____ with you." Do I always go back over and play that one thing? No, I will be honest, I don't. Sometimes, I am too tired to pretend to be one more princess. I am too tired to pretend dig one more hole. I am too tired to build one more lego tower only to knock it over. Oh my goodness, what is my problem? Why am I too tired? Is it from working all day, because I love my job. Is it from using my imagination time and time again? Because let's be honest here, my kids have AWESOME imaginations and I need to make sure that I am helping these imaginations grow and develop in a positive light. I can't squash them. I'm not trying to put myself down here, make myself look like I never play with my kids, because I do, but this book is helping me realize some faults I have, and the areas I can grow as a mother.
Josh and I are very good at keeping eye contact with our kids in both positive and negative situations. We want our children to know we are listening and that this is serious (whether positive or negative). We include our kids in activities around the house whether it is cooking, cleaning, repairing, folding laundry (which results in REfolding laundry), setting the table, doing the dishes, and taking care of our pets.
Gifts - If you walked into our house, you would think our kids are 100% completely spoiled. Yes, that might be true. Our kids have a TON of toys. Many of these toys have been given to our children from family and friends. There are times when Josh and I wonder if people think we have absolutely NO money, so they feel the need to GIVE to our kids, but then we realize that they are just being generous and know that our kids will appreciate these gifts. At least that is what I like to believe. My big AH-HA in this section of the book, is something Josh and I do all the time, but we need to be more cautious of what we are doing. You see, we buy toys when they go on sale. We don't give them to our kids. Sometimes they are saved for later gifts (Christmas is huge) or saved for times when they have been "earned". We do a lot of sticker charts in our home. Sticker charts for eating new foods, finishing a meal, eating vegetables, picking up toys, sleeping in own bed, going potty on the potty, pooping and actually wiping on their own...remember these are for the kids, not Josh and I (wink wink). Once they have "earned" a certain amount of stickers, usually an amount that is established together, a prize is earned. Josh and I like to think of it as a way of teaching our children that things are not just "given" to you, but you have to earn things. We have to work to earn money. If I want new boots, I have to buy them with money I have earned. Same thing for our kids. If you want a new toy, you have to earn it during the "off times" - all other times would be a holiday (Christmas, Birthdays, Easter, etc...)
This book points out that the "earning" of gifts is not actually a gift at all. That is teaching my kids to work for something. The happy balance would be giving our kids a gift just because. This we do, but not often, at least I don't feel we do. I guess, maybe we do give them gifts...new clothes, new shoes, etc...My kids get excited over any gift - it could be a pencil! I just would hate for my kids to look spoiled, act spoiled or seem spoiled. They are such loving individuals who are hopefully growing up to know the difference between gifts and earnings.
Acts of Service - Oh boy, this is the one that Josh and I have felt is Callie to a T, but after reading this book, I'm not sure. I have yet to determine which Love Language best represents each of our children, but I have an idea (one I will not be sharing on here until after Josh has read the book and we have discussed this together). You see, Callie has a very solid routine. Every morning she wants her breakfast: waffle OR peanut butter toast, milk and a show. All the time. If, at anytime, you tell her one of these items is out, she will be upset. That is caring for your child. Callie is not old enough to operate the toaster and use a butter knife unattended. Therefore, taking care of my child includes providing her with these items. Collin and Carter need the same assistance, and if you tell Carter that breakfast is in a few minutes, it better be in a few minutes - that boy wakes up HUNGRY! This section talks about the difference between acts of service and basic parenting. From the moment we found out we were pregnant, we were on full time job duty. We will have this full time job duty for 18 years, but will have some extended periods of time several years after. Take my mom, for example. I am 31 years old - 13 years after I moved out of the house, my mom STILL comes to stay with me and help around the house, with meals, laundry, and taking care of my children while I recover from surgery. FULL. TIME. JOB.
Think about potty training: when your infant is in diapers, they are not going to change themselves. FULL TIME JOB! That is the duty of the parents. As your child is learning how to use the potty, FULL TIME JOB! That is the duty of the parents (and the amazing daycare provider Jessica!). As your child has mastered potty training and is able to go on his/her own, the parent is still supervising and making sure hands are washed - FULL TIME JOB! Now, my daughter is 4.5 years old. There are so many times that we will be outside playing, she will run into the house, use the bathroom, and come back outside. I'm not there. I'm not hovering over her making sure she did her everything. I can trust that my parenting and practice has been instilled into her and she is doing what she needs to do. I can ask her if she flushed, if she washed her hands, if she used soap and if she turned off the light. That is STILL full time parenting, BUT she is more independent. Callie had MANY struggles with her stools and constipation. This poor girl had a ton of tests done, used Miralax everyday for two years and had many, many tears over pain. She can do this on her own now. No more medicine, no more constipation. She can wipe on her own; HOWEVER, there are times she asks for help. Am I belittling her if I help? Am I showing her that she never has to do this on her own? NO - this is something she can do on her own, but let me tell you what, this girl feels LOVE from her parents when we help her with this. Strange thing to write about, strange thing to admit, but it's true.
When the boys are outside playing and their favorite dump trucks "dump bucket" falls off, because it always falls off, they need help putting it back on. Taking the 10 seconds to get off my butt, put the bucket back on and smile is showing my boys that I love them and care about them SO MUCH MORE than giving them a sippy cup of milk. Helping Collin find Max before bed, helping Carter get situated in his bed with his overly large kitty cat on top of him, and helping Callie arrange all 75 of her stuffed animals that sleep with her at night so everyone is there and happy...that is acts of service. That is not going to make or break my children developmentally. This is not going to ensure a healthy lifestyle if my kids do or do not have these needs met. But it WILL show my kids that their mommy and daddy love them so much, because we took the time to help them with these tasks that mean SO MUCH to them. Clipping the buckle on the bike helmet, helping put a shoe on, helping get a car out that is stuck under a bunch of others - all acts of service.
If you have not heard of this book, I am going to highly recommend it to you. Don't ask to borrow ours, just yet, because Josh is reading it next! It's a fantastic book that helps provide great insight into yourself as a parent and your own children's basic needs...the need to FEEL loved. I love my children more than anything imaginable. I believe I have shown my children how much I love them, and I believe I have done so in their Love Language. I know I'm not perfect. I know I have not shown this every time and sometimes I have spoken against their love language, but I am growing and learning!!