Quite a long time ago, I wrote a post about “Loving Children In Their Language” and a follow-up post, “How To Work With The Love Languages of Children.” These posts were based upon the seminal work of Chapman and Campbell called, “The Five Love Languages of Children” (there is an adult version too).
I have been thinking a lot about this recently in the context of parenting and homeschooling. How am I laying down love on my children? How am I connecting with them? How am I finding joy in our connection and love?
The reality is that children grow up and relationships change over time. Perhaps what filled my children’s cups when they were so very tiny no longer applies very well; perhaps I need close observation to see in their becoming how I need to love them and what makes them feel loved. And in doing this, I see what makes me feel loved in turn.
I love the ideas of the five love languages and that children need to be loved in all five ways – quality time, words of affirmation, touch, acts of service, gifts – and how we need to be sure not to use the child’s love language against them. For example, “time-out”, can be devastating for a child whose love language is quality time and may not be the most effective way to guide a child ( time- out as a punishment is different than having a child take a quiet down time when his or her emotions are high).
How do use this? How can I lay this love down?
For me, it is trying to use connection in the love language that helps the most in the moments that are hard. It is having more fun and more joy in the day through this connection. It is about letting go and being together in that moment. It is about loving myself and knowing what makes me feel loved exactly so I can be more present for them.
Boundaries are a part of love for me. Without boundaries, my children would not feel as secure and safe as they do. They need to know how things are held and they in turn can spend their energy holding themselves instead of trying to control the space around them or trying to control me. Boundaries and love are intertwined in a beautiful, peaceful way. Teenagers may not always love boundaries, but they do know and understand their value as they themselves experiment with boundaries with their peers and with their parents.
But most of all, I just hope to lay down the love thickly. May it insulate them in the times when I am not present, may they know that I carry them in my heart, may they know that through their family’s love for them they can find love for every person and be ready to help in times of need. May they be generous and kind from that kind of love.
I guess that is the ultimate goal of parenting: to lay down the love so it shimmers unbroken like a light in the darkness.
Many blessings tonight,
Thank you for a thought-provoking post. It brought a lump to my throat. 🙂
Carrie, I would love to hear a lot more about: “They need to know how things are held and they in turn can spend their energy holding themselves instead of trying to control the space around them or trying to control me.” Thank you!
Sure, Elizabeth. I think for small children, this is about rhythm and warmth and unhurried time. We hold that, the children know this is how things are and can expend their energy in their own play and their own emotions. They don’t have to manage your emotions or the routine or anything but themselves. For older children, knowing boundaries helps them also feel safe and secure. It even helps them stand up to whatever is going on in their life with peers for teens – knowing the rules and knowing, “I know my parents wouldn’t let me do that” can sometimes be a relief to say.
I don’t know if that helps. Let me know if there is something specific you would like to dialogue about. You can always email me at email@example.com
Thank you Carrie, I read this book a few years ago after reading the adult one. Thank you for taking the time to post your insights and words. I am trying to find ways to stop rushing. This kind of thing really helps me to focus on what is important.
Hi Carrie, thank you for this thoughtful post. I really needed it as well.
Your words about relationships changing really ressonates with me. Our oldest just turned 10 year old, and the last months he is seeking more independence, questioning more, and picking more fights with us and his siblings. And so, very quickly we will come into this circle of arguments and discussions, forgetting that in fact, every day, he needs to experience that we love him as well. It’s so easy to think that he “knows” we love him, being so big. But the days fly in a hurry, and suddenly they have been filled with quarrels over details and tasks instead. So thank you for reminding us about also laying down the love, not just keeping it in our hearts. 🙂