According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there is an emotional love tank inside everyone of us, including children. When our Emotional love tank is full, that means we feel loved by significant people in our lives. Likewise, when children’s emotional love tank is full…
• They feel connected to important people in their lives.
• They feel accepted for who they are.
• They feel nurtured and cared for by their significant others.
• They feel happy, contented, confident, free, relaxed, calm, secure and safe.
• They are more willing to try out new experiences.
• They are more engaged in social interactions.
• They are more resilient when facing very difficult times.
• They are confident in making decisions.
• They work towards their goals and are not afraid to make mistakes or fail.
• They follow their passions and fulfill their dreams.
• The possibilities are endless!
What happens when children’s emotional love tank is empty or becoming empty?
When children’s emotional love tank is empty or on its way to being empty, we may see some or most of the following signs in their lives:
• They kick, scream or throw temper tantrums.
• They tune their parents out and don’t listen to them.
• They withdraw or are very reluctant to set goals or make decisions.
• They avoid spending time with their parents.
• They fight with their siblings and are very jealous of them.
• They lie, steal or hide things from their parents.
• They are more affected by peer pressure and may even join gangs.
• They use substances like alcohol and drugs.
• They engage in sexual promiscuity or become pregnant early.
• They run away from home.
• They drop out of school.
Again, the possibilities are endless. Children whose emotional love tank is empty may seek love in all the wrong places.
Acknowledging these possibilities in children may bring about much fear, panic and anxiety within you as parents. Yet, fears and panic don’t help you to become effective in your connections with your children. Rather, they take up space in your parenting, act as road blocks in your relationships with your children and create distance between you and them. Fears and panic cloud your judgment and paralyze your children’s motivation. They prevent you from seeing with clarity a full picture of your children – their uniqueness, special characteristics, strengths, talents, potentials and dreams. More importantly, fears and panic can be in the way of mutual love between you and your children.
Here, I plead to your heart, fear no more! Don’t let your parenting and your relationship with your children be driven by fears. Rather, let your parenting and your relationship be propelled and flourished by love!
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (Corinthians 13:13)
Faith: Have faith in your children. Trust that behind all those annoying, frustrating or even nasty behaviours, there is a very special child who yearns to feel loved. Underneath all those angry, moody, unpredictable and even violent personas, there is a vulnerable child who needs to be loved and to feel loved. Trust that your children can make their own decisions, even if they have to make mistakes in their choices. Trust that with your love and guidance, they have the capacity to find their own paths somehow, albeit challenging and seemingly impossible at times.
Hope: Your faith in your children represents hope for them. Where there is hope, there is life. When your children are feeling hopeless about their circumstances, your faith in your children helps to instill hope in them. Hope can help children seek open doors and find new opportunities. Hope can help your children realize that setbacks are mere temporary defeats and not permanent failures.
Love: Your love for your children can transform your relationships with them and your perceptions of their challenging behaviours. When your children can feel your love, they can effectively cope with many challenges in life and live fuller and more authentic lives.
Although almost all parents love their children dearly, few children do feel very loved. Many children’s emotional love tanks become empty on a regular basis because they don’t understand the love languages communicated by their parents.
In my previous post, I wrote about two Love Languages out of the Five Love Languages as proposed by Dr. Gary Chapman. I hope you don’t look at these posts on Five Love Languages as another “how-to manual” about how to love. Rather, I invite you to look at these love languages as a road map to a very important lifetime journey – a journey of love. As a road map, these five love languages can help you navigate the ever challenging journey of love with your children. This road map does not intend to give you the specifics to solve all problems in parent-child relationships, as human relationships are very complex. Rather, this road map gives you an idea of how to build a foundation of love with your children. What you make of it is up to you – your faith, your hope, your love and how frequently you practice these love languages.