Today I had a heartfelt discussion with my teenager. He came to me in the midst of massive teen angst and my first reaction was, You’re really going to tick me off, I know it. Then I took a deep breath and changed my direction to, Oh Lord, Give me the strength to know how to handle this, and the correct words that will help this situation and not make it worse.
And guess what? God did exactly as I asked. Thank you, Jesus!
My son wasn’t feeling loved. I was flabbergasted. I show him love every day. How dare he say that?
Calm down Deanna, and listen to the boy.
Sometimes shutting our own traps can be the hardest thing ever. Especially for me. So, I shut it and listened. At first, he was a miserable mess of frustrated communication, but when he could finally verbalize exactly what he was feeling, we got down to the core of it. I was loving him, but he wasn’t feeling loved.
That’s where the five love languages (Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages – if you haven’t read his book, you should check it out.) comes into play. Everyone feels loved in all of the five ways, but there’s always one that rises to the top as if saying, “Oh that’s me, that’s when I start feeling all gooey and wonderful inside.”
The five love languages are:
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Physical Touch
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
So I went through them and we figured out his top love language is Quality Time. This is one of the hardest ones for me to give. Being a mom of four, a wife, a homemaker and a writer leaves me with less time than I would like to have. He said my phone in my hand was distracting me from giving him the love he felt he needed. I agreed.
I told him the phone will be put away when they are home. I will devote more time to making eye contact and conversation and just LISTENING to the kid. That’s all he wants, is for someone to hear him. For his siblings not to interrupt. For my phone not to interrupt. For housework not to get in the way. Just time to sit and be with each other.
We also went through to see what my love language was. Figured out pretty quickly that it’s Acts of Service. My husband’s is Physical Touch. This is funny because it all makes sense. Even when my husband and I were dating he would get hurt when I didn’t hold his hand. I never understood it, because that is not how I felt loved. But it is how he feels loved. It’s still the same in our marriage. I give him the touch he needs and he’s happy as a clam.
My teenage son’s close second to Quality Time is Physical Touch and that totally makes sense to me now. I look back on all the times he comes up for hugs, still, as a teen. Many inches towering over me, he just stands there and stares at me until I realize he wants a hug. I don’t work that way, so it’s not second nature to me. I have to work at it, to think it through and figure out what it is he really needs from me.
I love when people DO for me. That makes me happy. I have enough to do, so when I get help, I feel loved. When my husband does the dishes, does the laundry, rubs my back, mows the lawn, brings home a paycheck, all these things make me feel loved.
It’s no wonder my son and me were having a hard time feeling love from one another. He wanted me to just sit and chat, while that is the hardest one for me since I struggle to enjoy it when there are other things to get done. And there’s always something else to be done.
I wanted more help around the house from him. We both were looking to fill our love quota by forcing our own love language on each other. Instead, we can start GIVING each other what the other needs to feel loved.
I THOUGHT I was showing him love by DOING things for him, and he didn’t feel it. But when I take the time to love him the way he feels loved, the way he needs, then things can get better.
Does that mean, he can’t be considerate and understand when my schedule doesn’t allow for long periods of quality time? No, because he still needs to learn to live in the world and the world ‘aint fair. But does it mean I need to make a more concerted effort to show him love the way he needs? Yes, for sure. Just like I make an effort to show my husband, I need to do the same for my kids.
Is it exhausting and time-consuming? Yes.
Is it worth it? Absolutely.
Your Sister In Christ,
What’s your Love Language? Let us know in the comments below. J
*I received permission to post this blog from my teenage son. In no way, shape, or form do I ever wish to embarrass my kids by sharing information they are not willing for me to share.