By Shannon Collins
Summer Is OVER!
School days have arrived! Ready or not, summer is over! It seems to me these days that summer goes by faster and faster every year. One of the things that I grieve as school gets back in full swing is time with my children. The “to-do list” is now lengthy. The level of activities has shot through the roof! We have demands and expectations coming at us from every side. The car becomes our dwelling place. From morning and afternoon carpool to one practice after another, we are full speed ahead!
In all this hustle and bustle, how do we make sure our children feel loved? After all, don’t we all share the same desire for each of our children to feel and to know how much we love them? Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages of Children, addresses this in such a simple and helpful way. Chapman teaches the importance of loving each child in his/her own particular love language.
A love language is an avenue used to fill the love tank of a child. According to this book, there are five different love languages: Physical Touch, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, and Acts of Service. It is so important that we learn each of our child’s love languages. How does he feel the most loved? When does she just soak up knowing she is loved and feel it to her core?
So many times, parents think they know what their children need most, but they can honestly be mistaken. Sometimes, they try to love their children how they would prefer to be loved. That rarely works because their child’s love language is most likely different from their own. Other times, parents are uncomfortable in one of the love languages, and so they avoid it at the expense of their child’s needs without even realizing it.
One other common scenario I see as a family counselor is parents who love their children the way their parents loved them, without even realizing that their own children need something totally different. For instance, a mom says, “I do everything for you. I do your laundry, make your dinner, and drive you everywhere all day!” This is an example of loving your child through acts of service. For some, that would hit the spot so to speak! However, this mom hears her child say, “Mom, you don’t ever tell me you are proud of me.” This can be an indicator that her child is starving for her love tank to be filled with words of affirmation while the mother is focusing on acts of service which are not satisfying her child’s deepest need.
All of these love languages are important, but children generally have one or two primary ones that are most meaningful in helping them feel loved in such a profound and special way. That, my friends, is what we do not want to miss!
I believe that many children are walking around every day with wonderful families who do love them, but deep inside these children do not feel that love. The truth is that these children cannot even articulate why they feel that way. Listen for their cues. What are they saying? What are they doing? Do they come into your space and want to sit in your lap or maybe they sit down right beside you on the couch? Could it be that physical touch is their primary love language? Maybe it is not yours so you tell them to move over. You say, “Get off of me, honey, you are too big to sit on me!” If physical touch is what they need more than anything to feel loved, then they leave the room without their tank being filled at all.
My challenge to you parents today is read Gary Chapman’s book and study your children to determine their love language. Then, start loving them in that language deliberately and faithfully.
For my family, the summer lends itself to more quality time together and more one-on-one conversations and encouraging words. We tend to have more time for hugs and snuggling on the couch. When school starts, the pressure is felt immediately. About eight hours of the day these precious people are not even in our presence to love. It takes more discipline and more effort to concentrate on making those special contributions to each of their love tanks.
It is certainly not an easy task, but one that we need to embrace because of the dividends it pays in the lives of our precious children.
Shannon Collins is a counselor at FBC Jackson and lives in Brandon with her husband and three children. She recently wrote a children’s book, If It Were Up To Us, available online at shannoneverhartcollins.com.