BY MOMWISE SARAH OKOROAFOR

Love is the foundation.

Recently at church, my Pastor talked about Love. It was a very interactive service! He asked the congregation a candid question – “What ways can someone show that they love you?” The responses from the church members were very interesting. Then it got me thinking; WHAT IS LOVE? What do I consider as love?

Just so you know, I am aware of my love language (You will know at the end of this blog). After that message, I went in search of the famous Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Language Series. I read this book before I got married and I was able to identify my primary love language. However, I just started reading the children’s edition. With the 5 love language series, the characters and focus is different. Although the same rules applies but for children, it is slightly different.

NOTE: BEFORE YOU KNOW YOUR CHILDREN’S LOVE LANGUAGE, YOU MUST KNOW YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE. REMEMBER THIS “YOU CANNOT GIVE WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE”.

For those who don’t know, these are the 5 love languages;
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Physical Touch
4. Acts of Service
5. Gifts

Depending on the order, you should know which one is more important to you. At the end of this article, I will share an assessment created by the author for you to test your love language and that of your children. If you’ve done the assessment, please share when you did it and its accuracy.

When I identified my love language, it dawned on me that the misunderstanding between my parents and I was due to the lack of communication and the fact that they did not understand my primary love language. This caused me to be rebellious growing up. As the oldest child, so much was expected from me. I had to be prime and proper and was expected to be the perfect child. Unfortunately, I wasn’t anywhere near perfect. I wasn’t such a bad child; I was what we consider “special”.

As funny as it may sound, in some homes, the statement “I LOVE YOU” is hardly ever said.

Rather it is translated as ” I paid the rent/mortgage this month”. Meaning you have a roof over your head. “I pay your school fees every semester”… Meaning you have no choice than to get an education. ” That dress you wanted so bad, I bought it”… Meaning you don’t walk around naked on the streets. These are good, don’t get me wrong, but does it really say… “I LOVE YOU?” What happens when that child’s main love language is “Acts of Service”? But you keep buying those gifts? Most parents have replaced giving gifts with acts of love, and I believe that it sends a wrong message, especially when that child’s love language isn’t receiving gifts.

“Speaking your child’s primary love language does not mean he or she might not rebel later. It does mean your child will know that you love them, and that can bring him security and hope; it can help you to raise your child to responsible adulthood.” Note… when you know your primary love language, please make sure you don’t translate your personal love language to your child. For example, if your primary love language is “Acts of Service”, and that of your child is “Physical Touch”, you might be miscommunicating to that child, thus creating some tension.

Raising emotionally stable children begins from a tender age. Specifically, as toddlers to school age children. Several studies show that the foundation of life is laid in the first 18 months of life, particularly the relationship between mother and child.

This is the “catch them when they are young” stage. Though it’s not easy to understand their love language as toddlers, but as they get older, and as you know them “individually”, you will get to understand their primary love language. Raising emotionally stable children can be challenging, especially with access to social media and all other resources out there that makes them grow so fast and “act grown”. The little memories you create for your children add up to become a great shaping force in their lives. And this begins now, especially for majority of us new moms.

I’ve always said I would want to raise my children with love. Love that says… “I AM HERE AND I SEE YOU”.
Parents with multiple children, (this is where you become superstars), each child is different. Each child has their own primary love language. Just as their finger prints are different, their needs are different. THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL.

Unconditional Love means you love your child no matter what the child has done. Remember the formula: “THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL?”. Child #1 can be your favorite because she does all you ask without question, however Child #2, is that “special” one. As a parent do you speak both languages well? Is Child #1 doing what you ask because she doesn’t want to hurt mommy’s feelings? Is that her love language? Or are you using the ONE SIZE FITS ALL formula?

I will encourage parents to read the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman (There are various series out there, though there is none geared towards women), I read the “5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that lasts”. Once you read this and you are familiar with understanding your love language, then you can read the “5 Love Languages of Children”. Like I mentioned earlier, my primary love language is “Words of Affirmation”. For more on the assessments, visit this link.

I leave you with this; “Parents, you are vital. The culture won’t tell you that, but the fact, your gut, and your children’s lives testify to your power. Your opportunity to enjoy them when they are young and to shape them when they become teens will disappear before your eyes.”