When I interviewed now-adult resident children, one of the common concerns many had was how they felt insecure as a child when their parent’s time got taken away from them and put on their sibling. Of course, you and I know it is understandable for parents to focus on the new child, especially if the child has come from a background of neglect or abuse. But the resident kids get very stressed when they experience less time with parents. So, what’s a parent to do when their time is limited but they want to show their resident child that they are there for them?
I have found that understanding “The 5 Love Languages™” can help parents strapped for time to actively demonstrate love to their child who is feeling felt out. It’s interesting to think that we all have a particular ‘language of love’ that is unique to us – a certain way we express love to others and how we best receive love. The book The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, has been a best seller for many years due to its simple method of categorizing the different ways that people give and receive love.
Some children’s primary love language is time spent with, but even for those kids, they will respond favorably to a secondary ‘language’. I would like to encourage you to learn your child’s top two love languages so you can incorporate their ‘language’ into the love gestures you give them, in effect telling them “I see you.”
It’s most natural for us parents to shower our children with the kind of love we best respond to because we have our love language, too. And yes, our children will receive this in positive ways even if it’s not their language. But when we show them love in a way that resonates for them, this profoundly demonstrates that we hear them, we know them, and we value them, even if we can’t always spend the same amount of time with them as before.
Be more observant about which gestures of love your child lights up over, or notice which ones seem to fall flat with them. As with anything new, it takes getting used to showing love to your children in new ways, especially if they don’t mirror your own language. My number one language is words of encouragement and I enjoy giving verbal praise to my children; this is easy for me. I have to work harder at showing them any of the other four. But they relish it when I match their language. Once you start seeing the return on your investment, you’ll know it’s worth it to put in the effort to try new methods to connect with them.
For more information on the Love Languages, go to their website: