Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thought on Love Language

Parenting on Tap by Gina Abuyuan
Having written for and edited three parenting magazines in the past, I’ve heard all kinds of lamentations and justifications from parents who seem unable to “get through” their kids.
“No matter what I do, I can’t get close to him/her” was the common theme.
I never seemed to have that problem being quite close to my daughter. Then, as the years progressed and demands at work became bigger and more frequent, I found myself worrying about the same thing: I was losing touch with my kids, especially my twin sons, who were growing increasingly attached to their yaya.
I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching—that is, filling their love bank. In my personal definition, that is a treasure trove of good and loving memories from which they could withdraw during moments when I wasn’t around. As I was spending more and more time away from them, the special moments were slowly being depleted—and I wasn’t spending enough time nor effort in building it back up, or “depositing” in it.
How do we busy parents do this, beyond the obvious, which is spending “quality time” with each?
Know their love language.
First, discern what kind of love language your child speaks. Developed by Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages, he says that there are five ways a person best gives and receives love: words of affirmation, touch, acts of service, quality time, and through gifts.
While all my kids love to spend time with me, Simone, for instance shows her love through acts of service. Marco likes to hear words of affirmation and gives a lot of hugs, while Mateo never forgets it when you promise him something.
Doing something in your child’s particular love language increases the value of a deposit in his love bank.
Know the uniqueness of each of your children.
Get to know your kids individually. Maribel Dionisio reiterates spending 20 minutes a day with each child, and a weekly date with each of them (you can alternate kids on different weekends). While spending time with your children, don’t impose on them what you want them to be, or expect them to be, and never, ever compare them with their classmates, cousins, or peers. Let them take the lead in what activity they want to pursue with you. Not only will this build on your deposits, but will open up your child’s world to include you in it. Try to discover your children’s talents and interests, and open up the avenues that will make them experience and excel in those things.
I don’t know how Marco developed his love for plants, for example, but I think it stemmed (no pun intended) from his attraction to flowers. Now, he’s enamored with everything green and garden-oriented. A visit to Manila Seedling Bank is equivalent to a visit to Toys R Us.
Simply explained, deposits can be likened to actions (appropriate, of course) and verbal expressions of love; and withdrawals can be likened to irrational anger, name-calling, unfulfilled promises, and criticisms that is harsh and meant to shame or hurt, not to teach.
“But as long as there is a surplus of love in the account, no serious problem is likely to occur,” says Sidney Craig, author of “Raising Your Child Not by Force”. Think about it: how much have you deposited in your kids’ love bank today?

—————————— Gina Abuyuan is a Manila-based writer and editor. Currently section editor for Manila Bulletin’s Business Agenda, she has also founded and/or headed five magazines — three of them parenting titles. An advocate of progressive parenting, she is mom to 6-year old twins Mateo and Marco, 13-year old Simone, and soon-to-be-stepmom to 19-year old Josh.

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