Why Children Should Learn the Five Love Languages
This morning talking with Maddy, I had an eye-opening experience regarding her idea of “love” between parents and kids. Thinking on it, she’s probably not the only kid (especially from a divorced family) who may have this type of thinking. It was a serious conversation regarding how she believed one of her parents “loved” her more because that parent stayed home and took care of her as a baby, while the other parent worked outside the home every day and was really “never there” like the other, thereby he didn’t love her like the other parent. I told her that her daddy working like he did paid for the house she lived in, all the toys she had, all the food she ate, and even made it possible for her mommy to stay home and take care of her full time. That was Daddy’s way of saying he loved her and her mommy. She rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah, right!” Now, to be honest, this is not the first time James and I have come across her “thinking” regarding the whole role daddy didn’t play in her life or she thinks he didn’t play and has never been told otherwise from the person she needs to hear it most from! But that’s a whole different discussion about divorce.
I told Maddy about Gary Chapman’s the Five Love Languages. I tried to explain to her that just because one parent does one role and another parent may do a different role, does not mean that one parent loves a child more or less. Not wanting to put it in a “your mommy” and “your daddy” blame game, I simply asked her to take a look around the house for a minute. All the things that she has access to, all her clothes, all her games, everything comes from someone who loves her and who wants her to feel safe and loved. All these things come from her daddy, me, my mom, my sister…everyone loves her, but everyone plays a different role in her life. I then tried to explain the love between adults. I told her that Daddy shows me he cares for me by working hard, making me things, taking care of problems around the house….and I show him I care for him by cooking (James may think that’s up for debate), doing laundry, working outside the home…different ways in which we show we care about each other. Trying to lighten the mood, I said, “I even show him love by mowing the yard.” Maddy finally pipes up, “Hey, I’ve been mowing the lawn lately in summer!” I said, “See, that’s your way of showing us you love us.” Maddy, “No, it means I love the yard!” Hmmmm…
So maybe I didn’t explain it as well as I wanted…but I will say it honestly broke my heart to hear her say (and be trained to believe it true!) that she believed one parent loved her more simply because their role was different. As I’m writing this, Maddy is sitting in the “Daddy Chair” writing her own story. James has brought her in a cup of hot tea (she took it without a word), he has exited the room and returned with a snack bar for her (he even opened it and pulled down the sides for her)…she didn’t even blink at what he did. I wanted very badly to say, “See Maddy, this is an expression of love he is showing you!!” Unfortunately, the last few months have taken a different turn as to what I can and cannot say to Maddy…so I simply said nothing, and I just hope that she learns by the example we are setting for her…even if I have my doubts.