Have you ever planned the most fun day ever for your kids that they never asked for? You run around town exhausting yourself because you want to show them just how much you love them, but when you get home after it all, you feel like no one really cared? Somehow, everyone still needed more of you. I’ve asked myself how I could spend the whole day ‘loving on my kids’ only to realize their ‘love tank’ wasn’t even full.
I heard Gary Chapman explain once that obviously most children in the world are loved, but not every child feels love. How can this be? Children have a primary love language, but if you don’t speak it, they won’t necessarily know how much you adore them. You could be doing tons of loving things for them, but missing the ones that really translate.
You may have heard of Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages. The five love languages are: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time and gifts. The idea that people show and receive love in various ways is revolutionary to strong relationships. It just took me a little while to realize it also applied to my kids.
My son’s love language is 100% physical touch. He just needs one giant snuggle to feel complete and then will disappear to the basement to play happily for hours. My oldest, not so much. Sometimes she snuggles me, sometimes she’s not in the mood, and for forever, I thought that her love language was quality time. If I spent enough time focusing on her or taking her places, she would feel loved and be able to go on her way independently. Turns out, she really was needing me to show her love with words of affirmation (she gets that from her mama). A simple, “I am so proud of you,” or “Wow, you did an amazing job figuring that out,” fills her love tank with or without a hug and with or without hours of quality time. I was overlooking a key factor in her growth and confidence.
Moms today feel like they need to be on 24/7 for their kids, that the only way to love them is to give every ounce of energy they have to their child’s happiness. I’m learning recently that it is more impactful to find the specific ways they feel love and focus on those. Working all day to love someone in a way they don’t receive or recognize as love is like working all day to build a table only to go to bed and have it crash to the ground.
My motherhood goal recently is to be more in tune with my kids, recognizing their individual love languages, and showing them love in a way that fills them up even for a short amount of time every day. I hope it will help me raise my kids to be more confident, healthy and independent adults.
Katelyn Young is a local mom of three (her #crumblycrew) who shares real moments of motherhood as it relates to fashion, food and fun! Follow her on Instagram @_katelynyoung_ or follow her blog at kyleandkate.com.