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Yes, you cook and clean for them. Yes, you spend time homeschooling them. But do they really feel loved? Have you asked them recently? It takes guts to ask your child if she feels loved.
I’ve been reading the Five Love Languages series of books recently and took the challenge to ask my 13-year-old daughter if she felt loved. She replied with a very honest, “Most of the time.” I asked her what would make her feel more loved. She said she would like to spend more time doing things with me. (Big clue that her primary love language is quality time!) She said even 20 minutes a day would be nice. I told her I would make every effort to do something with her each day, sometimes alone and sometimes together with her sister.
Some days it takes a Herculean effort on my part to stop working through my endless list of tasks to go play basketball, work on a puzzle, or just talk with her, but I remind myself they will be grown-up in no time. I am always so glad when I make time to spend with the girls.
What is your child’s love language?
I would suggest you begin by learning your child’s love language or your teen’s love language. (Yes, these two books are similar to the adult version, but there are helpful tips that apply specifically to the different ages.) It is important that we learn to speak all of the love languages, but when you know your child or teen’s primary love language you can fill his or her love tank much faster.
One of my daughter’s primary love language is physical touch. I think she could snuggle all day long. (She tells us that would be her ideal day.) Doing anything where we are cuddled up (reading a book, watching a movie, stargazing) really says “I love you” to her. My other daughter’s primary love language is quality time. She still likes to snuggle at times, but would much prefer talking or doing something together.
7 ways to show your children you love them
Here are some of the ways I show my children I love them in the different love languages.
1. Read a book
We love snuggling up on the couch and reading a book. There is nothing better for a book-loving family. As the girls grow up and our lives get busier, I am reminded how few years I have to read a book to them. When my daughter asks me to read a book I try to oblige even if it means not accomplishing my current project. And even though they can read or listen to a book on their own, spending this time together creates is a great way to say, “I love you.”
Kids love to cook with you. (Fair warning: This can be a patience-learning experience for the parent!) I’ve mellowed out a lot as I cook with my children. They will make a mess. They will spill the flour. They will get some egg shell in the bowl at first. But I have some amazing memories while baking with my children and I know they do too.
3. Do something unexpected for them
My girls have been doing their own laundry for some time. Sometimes if my load is particularly small that week I will ask if they would like me to wash their clothes with mine. Or, sometimes when they are doing their laundry, I will move it from the washer to the dryer for them. These little acts of service are a simple way to say, “I love you.”
4. Take them out to a coffee shop
It’s a real treat to do something grown up. My girls LOVE going to a coffee shop. The atmosphere is special and they have my undivided attention.
5. Talk to them at bedtime
Spending just a few extra minutes with your child at bedtime can say a lot to him. I used to dread bedtime, but now I find joy in bedtime routines and use it as an opportunity to speak my girls’ love languages.
6. Leave love notes
You could have a special journal where you write notes to your child or leave sticky notes on their bathroom mirror, bedroom door, or in a book they are reading. The message could be a simple “I am glad you are my daughter/son.” or more specific such as “I really appreciated the way you helped your sister yesterday.” Speaking loving, encouraging, and affirming words to your child can have a lasting impact on him.
7. Bring home a special gift
All children love receiving gifts. The gift could be anything from something he has been wanting to something you saw that reminded you of him. It can even be as simple as his favorite muffins from the store.
How do you show your children you love them?
Want to see how other homeschool moms show their kids they love them outside of school time? Check out these other posts by the iHomeschool Network bloggers.