As a mother I feel, quite honestly, like I can say that I know my children – in fact, I may even claim that no other human being on this planet knows them as well as I do. But just recently I read the book The Five Love Languages of Children and it gave me pause – for the first time I started to view how I know my children by what kind of love they need from me. If you have kids that are older than 5, I would strongly encourage you to read this book. It is very much like the version that was written for couples in marriage – so if you already own that version, try to borrow this one. It’s worth reading once. As I encountered the love language in the book that applies to each of my children, I was blown away – and instantly decided to adjust one area of how I parent each of them. For instance, Liam’s love language (I believe) is touch. Knowing this, I think I’m going to start easing up on the harassment I’ve been giving him about his “blankie.” When he doesn’t have someone nearby to snuggle with, like me or a grandma or his dad, he wraps himself in this very soft thing that has been around since birth. He needs to feel its pressure against his skin. My daughter, on the other hand, lost her baby blankie a while ago and didn’t even notice. What she needs – what her love language is – is words of affirmation. This is why, as I am in Vancouver right now and she is 14 hours drive away in Fort St John, the letters that I send her and the phone conversations that I have with her are so important. She remembers everything that is said and brings those words up again in later conversations. They are her comfort.
And yet, I wonder … in the midst of our desire to grow closer to and understand our children (which I believe is important) – don’t over-complicate things. Sometimes parenting solutions are much more straightforward than that.
This morning as I read Mark 1:9-13 I was overwhelmed by how directly after Jesus is baptized and receives the phenomenal blessing from his father “You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” he is then sent straight into the desert for 40 days of testing from the devil. It struck me how just before he goes through this incredible, unimaginable trial, he is strengthened by the words of his father so directly. Did God give him those words to fortify him? I cannot help but note the timing …
Unlike God, we cannot know what is coming next for our kids. But I think it’s safe to assume that they, like us, are going to encounter tough stuff. We are so quick to load them with vitamins to guard their health, but are we blessing them enough with our words?