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This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we’re writing about how we want to parent differently — or the same — in the New Year. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
My parenting resolutions are simple: Spend more time mindfully loving my children. I have often second guessed my parenting skills, even though I practice attachment parenting and whole-heartedly believe I am raising my children in the most positive and peaceful way I can. But when you mother a child who has always had challenging behaviours, no matter what kind of parenting you do, or what kind of sacrifices you make, it’s hard not to sometimes doubt your tactics. The past few months also have been busier than usual. I spent three months applying for different Masters of Social Work programs, while trying to maintain my blog, be a good wife and provide quality child care for my daycare families. During this time I was acutely aware of not being able to meet everyone’s needs by the standards I wanted, and I hated it.
Enter The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D. I found this book lying under a stack of papers the other day and it has been a godsend. It was originally written for couples in order to better understand how to give and receive love in relationships. It was such a success that a version was written for parents.
The authors suggest that all people receive and express love through one of five primary love languages or communication styles: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. It is our job as parents to provide all five types of love styles to our children but also to find out which one our children respond to the best and “speak” this language often in order to meet their emotional needs.
The best way to find out how your children give and receive love is to ask them “How do you know I love you?” Children over five years old should be able to answer this question. A child whose primary love language is words of affirmation might say “Because you always tell me you love me” or “Because you always encourage me to do my best and tell me you are proud of me.” A child whose primary love language is physical touch may say “Because you give me a hug and kiss every morning and night and before I go to school” or “Because you like to wrestle with me and play football or carry me on your shoulders.” A child who especially loves spending quality time with you might say “I know you love me because you always come to my practice and then take me out for a snack afterwards” or “Because you’re always there for me to talk to.” A child who speaks the language of gifts could say “Because you always buy me a pack of gum when you go shopping” or “Because you buy me my clothes.” The authors do warn against taking advantage of this love language and feeling like you can replace your love with gifts. They explain that for these children gifts are more than tangible objects, they are symbols of your love, and their love tanks need to be kept full to appreciate the gifts they receive. I appreciated the explanation to this particular love language as I have struggled with the knowledge that this is how I best receive love, but it isn’t something I always feel comfortable with given the issues surrounding gift giving: materialism, commercialism, greed and over-abundance. Finally, if your child’s love language is acts of service you might hear “I know you love me because you read books to me and teach me things and help me with my homework.”
The other day I asked my daughter ” How do you know mommy loves you?” She smiled up at me and easily replied, “Because you give me hugs.” Well, if I used to hug my daughter a lot I have upped the ante considerably!
I love to hug my kids but I have never done so as consciously as I do now. I never worried if I missed giving my daughter a bedtime hug and kiss, and I usually just blew a kiss to her when she went into her classroom. In the morning I find she is especially in need of a love tank “fill-up” so as soon as I see her I greet her with a big long hug and kiss. I now understand her past need to hold my hand as we walked down the stairs in the morning. It used to drive me up the wall because I’d already be down the stairs and she’d wail for me to come and hold her hand refusing to come downstairs until I did. It drove me nuts and I saw it as over-dependance rather than her need to be shown some morning love in the way she best received it. In the three days I have been doing this I have already seen a change in her behaviour and demeanour. Whereas before, our mornings were rife with screaming, crying and aggression, my daughter is now more agreeable and loving towards the entire family.
I have increased all of the other ways in which to show both of my daughters love and have found that the conscious act of loving is reaping rewards for everyone.
Now, when I’m busy I don’t feel so guilty. Because I have mindfully filled my children’s love tanks with words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time and acts of service beforehand, they are happy to play while I do my housework or my writing. Carrying these love languages through the New Year is the simplest and most rewarding way I can see to building upon and improving my parenting and relationship with my kids.
Have you read any of The Five Love Languages series? If so, did they change the way you love your significant others? I’d love to hear your stories.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
• To Yell or Not to Yell — The Adventures of Lactating Girl
• It Is All About Empathy: Nurturing a Toddler’s Compassion Potential — Baby Dust Diaries
• To my babies: this year… — BluebirdMama
• Mindfully Loving My Children — Breastfeeding Moms Unite!
• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Resolutions — Code Name: Mama
• Imperfect Mother — Consider Eden
• Resolutions — Craphead (aka Mommy)
• FC Mom’s Parenting Resolutions 2010 — FC Mom
• What’s in a Resolution? — Happy Mothering
• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutions — Hobo Mama
• Natural Parenting Resolutions — Little Green Blog
• This year, I will mostly… — Look Left of the Pleiades
• Parenting Resolutions — The Mahogany Way
• I Resolve to Breastfeed In Public More Often — mama2mama tips
• Moving to Two Kids — Megna the Destroyer
• Use Love — Momopoly
• My parenting resolutions — Musings of a Milk Maker
• Talkin’ ’bout My Resolutions — Navelgazing
• Parenting Resolutions — One Starry Night
• Invitations, not resolutions — Raising My Boychick
• No more multitasking during kid time — The Recovering Procrastinator
• I need to slow down, smell those roses AND the poopy diapers — Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma
• Resolutely Parenting in 2010 — This Is Worthwhile