Why We Need to Know Our Children’s Love Language

It was the summer of 2014, and one day, my mom dropped by my house unannounced, I wasn’t home, and through a pure fluke, the boys and I rushed out of the house with the door not only unlocked….but wide open…for hours while we were having fun in the sun at our local water park! EEEEK!

Hours later after our water park rush and leaving our home totally unprotected, I noticed back to back missed phone calls from my mother. As soon as I answered the phone, I get blasted with what I perceived as anger and judgement when I later realized it was an elevated sense of panic and worry. I’ve discussed my mother in law Ruthie before, and like her, my mom is also LOUD. Her tone of voice whether happy or sad, up or down,  stays on 10, its just who she is lol! During that phone call, she expressed how upset she was to pull up to my home, call/blow the horn and not to get a reply from me. She walked in and went all throughout the house looking for us because she could not believe that the house was wide open and no one was there! Not only were we not home, but the house was a mess. There weren’t just toys scattered about on every level, there was also the filling from a huge teddy bear one of my sons decided to decorate the house with. And for someone like my mom, who deep cleans weekly, she was abhorred! And she let me know very bluntly on level 10, that “SHE DID NOT RAISE ME LIKE THAT TO BE IN A DIRTY HOUSE!” LOLOL.

Now take me, super proud and super independent … in that moment I was livid! I thought and expressed that she was being extremely judgmental and her drop by discovery of my messy house was not a constant in our lives, but that with 3 small children, boys at that, that a messy house sometimes comes with the territory! That day, it was warm and muggy and quite possibly the last warm day of the summer, so I prioritized having some fun with my boys over cleaning up their messes…the mess would be there when I got back! Right? Right!

 

Look how much fun the kids were having! The dirty house could wait lol!
Look how much fun the kids were having! The dirty house could wait lol!

That conversation, that was full of high and loud tones from both parties, led us to a sit down heart to heart conversation that tackled the butt of our issue…we did not understand each others love language, and particularly as a child, 32 years of age or not, feeling like your parent doesn’t love you the way you need to be loved can lead you to feeling hurt and misunderstood.

After we got off that phone call that didn’t end very well, I found myself reveling in past regret and bitterness over how I wished she held just as high regard to order in the home and cleanliness to personal, quality time. I found myself misty with tears thinking “there she is so passionate about how I keep my home, I wish she was equally as passionate about being present at my events growing up!” I thought about homecomings when I became Princess of our court, the many band performances, and other little details of the odds and ends of my life that I thought she should have pressed to be there for. I had NEVER expressed this to her before, which was not fair. She had no idea I even felt like this!

 

We did not understand each other’s love language.

So here was the reality. My mother was and is an extremely hard worker. She is a successful business owner and has been for almost two decades. She has worked long and tireless hours…and what I didn’t know then, is that as she worked through some of my awards ceremonies and other events I was involved in … she did so with pangs of guilt & longing to be there. That in between doing hair as a stylist, she would put one person under the dryer and dash to pick us up from dance class and then rush back. She compensated not being able to be there by ensuring we had our hearts desires materialistically, that we had yearly fantastic family vacations (shout out to Disney World!), the best Christmas’s a child could dream of, and even our Easter mornings resembled that of a small Toys for Tots warehouse. I will FOREVER be grateful for those memories!

I knew that it wasn’t fair to hold what I felt from my mother, so I wrote her a letter and she scheduled a sit down. As my mother and I sat across the table from each other, and as I saw her light skin flush with redness and her eyes cloud with tears, she explained her love to me with a broken voice. We relented to the lumps in our throats and allowed our tears to flow. We hugged, we explained ourselves in love, and we acquired a newfound understanding of each other and a mutual respect of the kind of mom/wife/mother she wanted me to be based off of her own personal expectations and revealed that her own mother was emotionally unavailable. I was able to recognize the challenges she faced as a wife and working mother with five children, and likewise she learned from me that I was ok prioritizing memories over a spotless home because it was just a season that would quickly pass.

The point of this story that I want you all to receive, is to take a moment and evaluate your relationships with your spouses, parents, significant others, and particularly with your children. Your love acts as their foundation. With any strong foundation, when those challenges come knocking at their door – insecurity, self-doubt, bullying, depression, heartbreak and more – that foundation you’ve built will keep them strong! It will hold them steady no matter how hard the winds blow. Your love should mimic the love of Christ and resemble a canopy of grace, constance, and understanding.

But my mother did not know that my love language is Quality Time. I NEEDED to feel like my mom desired to be a part of my life expressed through the sacrifice of her time. When we sat down, she confessed and reassured me of her undying and lasting love, and I knew without a doubt that my mom had always loved me, but I wanted her to love me how I could best receive it. I would have gladly traded in my new Grant Hills for her to come and visit my classroom and have a mommy/daughter date. My brand new Minnie Mouse motion ring I got at Easter (anyone remember those?) was all the envy at school lol, but in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter because I wanted her time that I shared with 4 other siblings.

So what is your love language? Your spouse’s? What is your children’s love language? If you don’t know, click here to do a quick quiz by Dr. Gary Chapman with your loved ones so you know once and for all how to properly communicate your love according to their language.

 

The 5 Love Languages
The 5 Love Languages

For us parents, understanding your child’s love language helped my older sister, Tamika, and I create the Parent Love Review. She saw the transparency that our mother and I had, and it made her take a step back and wonder, “do my children feel loved by me? Are my children safe in my love? Do my children lack anything from me?” Please find below a helpful Parent Love Review guide that you can use to gage how you are doing as a parent in the eyes of your child.

Thank you for reading and I hope you walk away inspired to love more personally and more intentionally.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)

PARENT LOVE REVIEW GUIDE

Setting the tone

  •  Sit your children down and let them know that you would like to talk to them openly and transparently. If you have more than one child, set them aside one by one and allow this time to be personal and specifically about them as an individual and separate from their siblings.
  • When starting the conversation, take the lead by first letting them know that you love them unconditionally and that you want to be the best parent that you can be to them. State that this is your parental review and this is their time to let you know how you are doing as a parent and that nothing they say will land them in trouble or will be criticized. Compare it to a report card or employee review, make it fun!

Questions to Ask:

  • Do you feel loved by me? If yes, ask them to give you examples of what you do to make them feel special. If no, ask them to give you examples of times you did NOT make them feel special/loved. This would be a great time to stop the conversation and take the 5 Love Languages Quiz to help shed light to how your child interprets love.
  • What are some of your favorite things we do together? What are some things you would like to do together?
  • Do you enjoy time with just mommy/daddy or do you prefer to be with your siblings when we do things together?
  • Do I ever make you feel sad or angry? If so, please give me examples so I can try my best to stop making you feel that way.
  • How does mommy make you feel most of the time?
  • If you were to give me a grade on how I am as your mommy, would you give me an A (excellent), B (Good), C (OK), or D (Needs some work!)

Its important to note that it does not matter if your child is 5 or 55, it is NEVER too late to adjust the way you show your love and care for them. There are many adults walking around broken that can be directly linked to their relationship with their parents or guardians. God’s graces and mercies are new EVERY morning, don’t let another day go by if you are involved in a relationship that is not driven by love.

Happy Valentines Day! Cheers to loving intentionally!

Love,

Stephanie <3

Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama – Part 2

Hey ya’ll!

When I posted the first part of Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama, I shared it on my personal page and the Blog Fan Page, and one thing became clear, most of us mama’s are now modeling some of the characteristics that our moms used while raising us, and some of those are good and not so good. I read several comments and received lots of feedback with moms that are also struggling with how they react when their children make them angry, and more than we are all willing to admit – the yelling, verbal threats, and voice tones – get to be way out of control. If you’ve ever automatically lashed out by saying the following or any variations of it, its time to get that initial anger management under control!

  • You’re gonna get your face slapped!
  • I will pound your face in!
  • Do it again and see what happens! *what you gone do? lol*
  • Don’t let me come in there and find out that you didn’t do what I told you to do!! You’re gonna be sorry!
  • Or maybe your initial response is more action oriented by snatching your kid up by their collar  or jacking them up against the wall with angry bulging eyes.

Most of the time we recognize when its gone too far, but as discussed in the previous post, we know that we must STOP and take a “Take 5” and then DETOUR our thoughts and respond to our children in a healthier way, thus exemplifying the type of anger management and communication we can be proud for them to model.

I USED TO THREATEN MY SON THAT HE WOULD GET HIS FACE SLAPPED

Another shameful transparency moment: I used to threaten my son that he would get his face slapped when he did things that made me angry. One day I heard him utter that same threat to his little brother, and boy was I embarrassed that he learned that from me! Although I have never slapped him in his face, threatening to do so was very hurtful to him, and one time I caught him crying after I had already mentally moved on from the situation and thought OMG! why is he crying?!

You sa-aaa-aiiid, you were gah-gah-gonna slap me!” he expressed through sobs.

I had to put my big girl pants on, drop to his level, and apologize. “Mommy is so sorry! I said that because I was angry, and I didn’t think about what I was saying. Mommy would never slap you in your face and I am going to do my best not to say that again. Please forgive me. Can I have a hug?” And we hugged it out and I embraced him and reassured him that my love for him was unchanging and that I made a mistake. Even recapping that moment for you all makes me teary. I never want to cause my children emotional pain! But the truth is we are human, we regurgitate some of the fear tactics our parents used on us, and ultimately we are flawed and imperfect people who will do and say things we regret. Just as God extends His grace to us, we have to show that same grace to not only our children, but ourselves when we know we have made mistakes. Instead of telling ourselves over and over again, “you friggin suck as a mom!”, actually take the steps to STOP and DETOUR, practice it until healthy responses to our children become second nature!

WHY DO WE GET SO MAD?!

Now that we’ve learned the steps to take control of how we respond to anger, lets discuss WHY we become angry in the first place! And thanks to the study I’m taking taught by Dr. Kevin Leman in the workbook titled, “Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World”, I can share it with you all!  So what do you think the reason is? On page 26 of the workbook, Dr. Leman says “the underlying message of highly angry people is ‘things oughta go my way!'” GASP! Now that I think about it, that is nothing but the truth! Think about when you first brought your baby home from the hospital, and you monitored everything your husband did with and for the baby and harped when he didn’t do it your way.

  • “No, you have to put a clean diaper underneath the dirty one so you can hurry and put it on”
  • “did you test the water temperature with a stainless steel thermometer before putting MY baby in the tub first?!”
  • “that bib doesn’t match”
  • “why are you taking so long to put the baby’s clothes on?”
  • “no you have to feed him this way, not like that. Give him here let me show you”
  • “omg, if I pull out one more dry wipe because you forgot to close the top of it I am going to lose it!”

Ha! Whew, thank God for big sisters that warned me NOT to do that with my husband because I had to rebuke myself quite a few times when I wanted to *ok, I ain’t fooling nobody, I did it too*! But basically, we drove ourselves crazy with irritation and anger that things weren’t being done how we wanted them to be done, and as a result we snap and try to take back control out of fear that if it wasn’t done OUR way, then it wasn’t done right.

“Most studies reveal the basis of anger is fear, fear of being threatened or fear of losing control. When our kids aren’t living up to our expectations, we fear what others might think of us, or we react to fear of being a failure as a parent.” (page 26)

In closing, we get angry and lose control due to the fear that things are happening out of our control. The opposite of fear is faith!

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love. Ephesians 3:16-17

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all demonstrated that we were rooted and established in God’s love in every area of our lives, even in our marital and parental relationships?  Will you join me in practicing that this week? I always admire the mom who responds to her child in that high-pitched loving tone lol. The one who says “oh no honey, lets not eat dirt ok?!” all chipper like. Let’s dig a little deeper, push ourselves and practice healthy communication for our kiddos!  Comment below some of your moments that you may not be so proud of and the steps you took to do better. Let’s be on the journey to be better together! Until next time <3

Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama

Hey hey! I hope all of you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! We live in the land of the free due to the brave men and women who relentlessly fought and continue to fight for our freedom! To the families of those that have lost their lives in battle, continued prayers of peace and comfort! <3


 

I hope you all were able to do some fun things with your families. Holidays for me is all about finding that balance between relaxation and building memories with your loved ones. Our weekend included some swimming at our fitness center, family bar-b-ques, and attending the annual St. Mary’s Polish Country Fair, which is truly the kick-off event for the summer complete with all sorts of good eats, real roller coaster rides (see photo below), kid zones, and even Vegas themed areas for the adults.  Although we had bouts of very light sprinkles, the weather was perfect and at a great high 70 degree temp!

 

Us riding a roller coaster at the fair. Why am I yelling the hardest though?
Us riding a roller coaster at the fair. Why am I screaming the loudest though?

The St. Mary’s fair attracts about 100,000 attendees every year, and I could definitely feel it as we maneuvered through the crowds, trying to keep an arms-length distance to my three sons. As we made our way from the Dinosaur Dino ride to the basketball games, we bumped into strollers and families with children at every turn, and one family in particular were attracting quite a few eyes as a mother yelled at her young elementary-aged son, “You know what’s gonna happen right? You gone get SOCKED in yo’ mouth! I’m SICK of you complaining!” She turned and continued on her way after she gave a menacing glare, and you could see how angry she was from the grimace that remained planted on her face. Seems harsh right? Uncalled for right? But there are so many of us parents just flat-out losing our cool and taking it out on our kids. How can we change this?

That happened on Sunday. On Tuesday morning, I sat amongst like-minded women and moms as we gathered for our weekly Mom2Mom study, ate some food, sipped on some coffee, and eagerly looked at the TV monitor that would soon be filled with Dr. Kevin Leman, parenting and marriage expert whom I’ve referenced before, giving us Lesson 5 of Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World. Low and behold, this lesson was specifically about …. (drumroll)… how parents can calm our nerves and calm down before we burst! So, I started this blog because I have a desire to share not only stories about my life with these kids, but the lessons and resources, people, and other insightful aspects of parenting that have inspired me to overall just be better. Don’t you want to be a better parent? Being “better” is not easy and I’m learning is not always instinctual! It takes us seeking out the Word (Bible), biblically based parenting resources, much prayer and PRACTICE!

I am sharing here with you some of the tips by Dr. Kevin Leman’s DVD/Workbook below as it relates to anger taken from Chapter 5 of “Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World”!

 

Book Cover!

 

OBSERVING THE WARNING SIGNS BEFORE TEMPERS FLARE aka HOW TO CALM YO’ NERVES, MAMA!

  • STOP–  I can be transparent and admit that sometimes, my children make me angry. Can you join me and admit that right now as well? Right there as you sit reading this on your phone or computer, say it with me: sometimes, my child(ren) make me flat out MAD! And that’s normal and ok! But it’s what we do with that anger that can make or break us as parents and consequently our children. When we feel our tempers rising and that flame starting to get bigger and bigger, we have got to practice a mental “take 5” and allow ourselves to calm down before speaking. My issue is yelling. I grew up with a mother (hey ma, love you! lol) that is LOUD. She is loud when she’s upset, loud when she’s happy, loud when she’s sad, and loud for no reason at all. That loudness growing up felt like #teamtoomuch at times and would hurt my feelings, but I know that she is a passionate person and a very colorful communicator! I know because as a mom myself, I can say I inherited that, LOL! But, one day my son Jabin made me mad. He has this habit of flapping his arms, jumping around in circles and then SPRINTING to the nearest couch or bed and diving in head first as he bursts into tears. When I’m not laughing at how ridiculous he looks (if you guys are laughing its ok haha), I’m mad at the emotional outburst. And sometimes I will just yell, “JABBBBINNNN! Get up off of that bed, get in here RIGHT NOW and apologize to your brother!” or “and clean up this mess!” or “and you are NOT watching another second of TV!” Sometimes, he can just make a simple mistake that ticks me off and I will yell, “Jabinnnnn! You have got to be more careful!” and he will respond in borderline tears, “You don’t have to yell at me!” And that’s what stops me in my tracks, makes me immediately soften my tone, and I apologize. I really DON’T have to yell! I am the example that teaches him healthy communication regardless of how we emotionally feel in the moment. Can you relate? If so, lets practice together a “Take 5” before we automatically resort to what comes easily, yelling or in many cases, verbally bashing our children.  That is NEVER ok. And lets keep it real, some of us need to practice a “take 10, 15, 20, heck…5 minutes” before responding!
  • DETOUR: Dr. Leman says when you feel the anger devil on your shoulder (ok my interpretation) that we need to DETOUR and take an alternate route before we allow our anger/emotions to make us crash and burn. “You choose not to strike out verbally with harsh, threatening words and tone. Instead, you take another path and find solutions to the problem at hand” (page 25 in Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World). I had to think about how I can apply that to my parenting. When Caleb comes into the kitchen, grabs apple juice from the fridge and tries to pour himself a cup, only he pours too much and then I come in to find apple juice EVERYWHERE on the floor after I just mopped, instead of me bursting at the seams, I can calmly say “Hey Caleb, come here! Were you thirsty? Ok next time please ask me for help so we don’t make a mess ok? Take this paper towel and clean it up real good! Thank you.” Not only is that an acceptable detour, it allows Caleb to be responsible for the mess he made in a healthy way. It feels weird at first, and it takes a minute for the heart rate to go back to normal (lolololol, whew!), but Dr Leman gave a great visual example of how we feel when we are momentarily angry. Picture a balloon blown up. Its tight and the more you blow, there is the potential for the balloon to pop. As you let some air out of the balloon, the latex becomes softer and softer, and then it is no longer possible for it to pop because essentially, some steam has been released. When we are angry, calmly talking about the situation or taking some time to think before responding is how we can slowly let some steam out before we POP! I have also learned that we have to RESPOND to our children vs REACT.

 

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19

 

There were tons more great tips that I would love to share with you! But for the sake of not writing a book here, subscribe at the bottom of this blog or in the side panel, or check back here on Friday for Part 2 of “Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama!” I hope this helps, group hug!