Love is the foundation of parenting. You may truly love your children, but unless they feel it, they will not feel loved.
It’s 6:45am on a Public Holiday and the PSI (Pollutants’ Standard Index) is hovering at 200 (Unhealthy level). Singapore faces another hazy and unhealthy day of smog from man-made forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia. Looks like I have to shelf my much-anticipated cycling and swimming plan with the kids later but for now, I’m out buying breakfast for the family. Alone, not wanting to rouse the wife from her well-deserved sleep.
I usually do this on weekends and holiday mornings, driving out on my own to ‘tapao’ (pack) the wife’s favourite wonton noodles and the daughter’s fav kaya toast from the nearby coffeeshop to pamper them with a break from the typical ‘bread and butter’ weekday breakfast as a way of showing my love as a Dad and Husband.
As parents, we show love to our children by giving our best for our family day in, day out. From the simple daily act of saying of ‘I love yous’ to giving them hugs, reading bedtime stories for the hundredth time, fussing over their well-being and smothering them with goodnight kisses. As parents, we also go out of our way to make our kids feel special on their birthdays and special occasions like Christmas. If you have several children, chances are they would require different expressions of your love because each child is unique.
But what if, despite all that we’ve done, they don’t feel ‘loved’? How tragic that would be.
There is an emotional love tank inside every child. If the love tank is full (that is when the child genuinely feels loved by the parents), the child grows up normally. But if the love tank is empty (the child does not feel loved by the parents), the child grows up with many internal struggles and later in their teenage years, they will go looking for love, often in the wrong places….Much of the misbehaviour of children grows out of an empty love tank…” Dr Gary Chapman.
Acclaimed family author, Dr. Gary Chapman in his #1 New York Times bestselling book, ‘The 5 Love Languages of Children‘ says that everyone of us have different ‘preferences’ of feeling loved and, in return, giving love. Some ‘Love Languages’ will be more dominant than others but they are not mutually exclusive. This sheds light into why sometimes, while we can do many things for our children (and spouses) out of genuine love, all may come to naught if we do not align our expressions of love with their primary ‘Love Languages’. Dr. Gary Chapman says all of us demonstrate and receive love in these 5 ways (in random order):
1. Physical Touch: Nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch (not to be mistaken with sexual intimacy, think hugs, hand holding, pat on the back, high-fives etc…).
2. Words of Affirmation: This language uses words to affirm people: Words of Affection (focuses on who the child is), Words of Praise (focuses on the child’s efforts, never on perfection), Words of Guidance and Words of Encouragement.
3. Quality Time: This is about giving the child your undivided attention and quality conversation. Story-telling is a great way to spend quality time with our kids, so are family meal times.
4. Receiving Gifts: For some, what makes them feel loved is the receiving of gifts (but not to be mistaken for materialism. The gifts need not be expensive, think cards, crafts etc…)
5. Acts of Service: For these people, actions speak louder than words. This involves doing things for our children and then teaching them to do things for themselves.
Being hazed in, we took the Love Languages Quiz as a family after our leisurely breakfast. For Angie and I, the results came as no surprise. We have always known we are as different as salt and pepper, and it manifested right down to our Love Languages. But what struck me was that even as mature adults, married for 16 years, we have to still consciously speak each other’s Love Languages to fill up each other’s love tank, what more then, our kids’? In fact, I’ve naively assumed that given Dana’s ‘gung-ho’ personality, her Love Languages would be similar as mine. But no. Seeing her Love Language results was a light-bulb moment for me. It explains why Dana often requests to cook for us and help me with the car washes.
My Primary Love Language
Angie’s Primary Love Language
Dana’s Primary Love Languages
As you can see, all 3 of our primary Love Languages are different! For my daughter whose primary love languages are Acts of Service, Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation, I would need to figure out which acts of service are important to her and then do that often. Does she feel loved when I help her with homework? Or teach her a new life skill? It’s also a timely reminder to me to continue showing affection to her through hugs, wrestles, play times and shower her with plenty of affirmative words.
Why knowing our children’s Love Languages is important:
1) Helps to know our children…deeper: We are all different, including parents from their children. It helps to know how to meet our children’s deeper emotional needs.
2) Helps with communicating…effectively: From knowing our children’s love languages, we can make a deliberate and intentional approach to get the messages across to them more effectively.
3) Connects families…closer: We all love our children and strive to give our best. Knowing what makes them feel loved connects us to our children and forges a closer family bond.
4) Helps our children feel accepted in this judgmental world. They need to know we, their parents may not always approve what they do but we love them unconditionally and we accept them even at times when they disappoint us.
5) Helps our children feel nurtured and loved as an individual.
Therein lies the challenge: how can we figure out how best to love our kids? Is doing our best enough? How can we fill their love tank effectively? Thankfully, there is a short online ‘Quiz’ which everyone, yes including your school-going kids, can do to discover their Love Languages for a start.
How can parents discover our children’s Love Languages?
- Observe how our child expresses love to us and to other people
- Listen to what our child requests most often
- Notice what our child most frequently complains
- Give our child choices between 2 options
- Take The 5 Love Languages Quiz Online!
As part of Nestle Singapore‘s social experiment to get more parents to share their parenting experiences, we would like to invite you to take the quiz below then share with us your thoughts:
- The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Parents
- The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Teenagers (13-17 years old)
- The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Kids (7 – 12)
Leave a comment below and share with us:
1) What is your primary love language?
2) What is your child’s primary love language? (It does get a bit more interesting with more kids!)
3) What are some practical things you do daily to fill up your child’s love tank?
BONUS: Like Nestle Baby Club’s Facebook Page for your chance to win a Nestle Goody Bag (worth SGD50) and a copy of Dr. Gary Chapman’s life-changing book, The 5 Love Languages of Children (worth SGD23). We have three Nestle Goody Bags and two copies of the book to be given away to readers.
For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse desert sands, and endure untold hardships. Without love, mountains become unclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, and hardships our lot in life.” Dr Gary Chapman
Hop over to these parent bloggers’ posts to read how they apply ‘The 5 Love Languages’ in their family relationships: