Filling my child’s emotional cup

After my divorce, I heard about the book, “Five Love Languages.” I was intrigued by the thought that you could speak to someone and possibly fill up their cup if you knew what love language they spoke. I was also curious to know what mine would be. But as I was reading the book, I saw that not only can it apply to your romantic relationships, but also to your friendships and your kids too.

Realizing that my thought was probably not an original one, I looked to see if author Gary Chapman had written any books about children and found “The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers.” I stopped reading “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” and picked up a book that would actually make a difference in my life.

The divorce, the aftermath of the divorce and my children’s father’s impending criminal trial have taken a toll on my boys. Although we do a lot to focus on healing, resilience and that our thoughts have more control on our mood than external forces, I wanted to see if there was something I could do to help them get through it.

When you hear the five love languages (words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch) you can kinda guess which ones mean the most to your loved ones. I think most people give love the way they want to receive it.

However, reading the book increased my understanding of each, the subsections of each and how to go about filling their love tanks and giving them the emotional support they need in the way they need it. The book also provides ideas on how to go about fulfilling those needs.

Honestly, a lot of the tips are things you pick up intuitively about your children, but it focused my attention on what means the most to them. So, if your child tends to readily do things for you, their primary love language may be acts of service.

It’s also helped me identify what my primary love language is as well. When you identify what it is and how you can speak their language, it helps strengthen those connections and bonds with your children.

Quality time is one of my boy’s languages and part of that is quality conversation. He has always loved to have long, deep conversations at bedtime. For a long time, I thought he just wanted to delay going to sleep. I enjoyed them so much that we would usually talk for 30 minutes before I’d cut it off and make him go to sleep.

Thankfully, those bedtime conversations have extended to talking in the car and just randomly throughout the day. I’ve learned that he prefers to have them when it’s just the two of us so I ensure he and I get that one-on-one time together. But it also includes sharing funny videos, singing loudly and off-key together and doing a number of other silly things.

One of the most important things I did while reading the book was to talk to my boys about the different love languages. I wanted them to guess which is their primary love language. (They LOVE these kind of conversations and getting in touch with their emotions and feelings btw. Doesn’t every teenage boy? They humor me. They’re sweet.) But, it helped confirm my guesses.

Chapman’s website also offers a free test you can take to determine yours and your children’s. I scored high on a few of them which is not uncommon. What was the most interesting is that my boys primary love languages ended up being my top two as well. I probably would’ve said that physical touch was one of my top, because there are times when a hug just makes everything better, but it ended up as fourth on my list.

My other son’s love language is the one I grew up with, how I was raised and how I’ve raised him. Acts of service isn’t just about doing things for others. For me, it’s also about teaching them independence so they can be successful. It’s about family and helping out the family to take care of all of the things we need to take care of so that we are all fulfilled and our responsibilities are met.

In the end, it has been a focused learning experience on how I can best communicate with my boys and provide them the support they need in the most effective way.

Order book if you’re interested.

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