Do you know what fills your teen’s love tank?
When my son is emotional, acting up, or giving me attitude, it’s usually because I haven’t filled his love tank lately – kind of like when I haven’t had my coffee ;0. You’ve probably heard of “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, but have you ever thought about how this relates to your teen?
The five languages are: gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. This relates to how we want and need to receive love. The tricky part is that we often give love the way we like to receive it, regardless of how the other person’s “love language.”
I travel a lot and when I come back from a trip, I bring gifts for my kiddos. I can always count on one of my four to light up, give me a huge hug, and carry the gift with her for weeks (score!). My son is a different story. He’ll say “thanks” but remain distant.
I have learned that I can’t just give a gift to my son and think that he is feeling loved. His love language is quality time, so I have to make space to fill him back up with love if I want us to feel connected. In adult relationships if we get too busy with life, we tend to speak harshly to one another which can result in hurt feelings that get worse over time. When we grab lunch or go on a date, we share what’s going on in our lives with more grace and understanding for each other. The same happens with our kids.
If your teen is grumpy, take them to coffee or ice cream and ask them – in a conversational way – what’s going on? If your child’s love language is touch, give them hugs daily no matter how old they are. If your teen’s love language is acts of service (Lord help you – just kidding), every once in awhile clean their room with them…this may be a good opportunity to see what they’re up to, too ;).
When my kids are out of the house, starting their own families, and choosing what kind of relationship they want to have with me, I want them to want to feel safe sharing their lives with me. I feel that if I establish respectful, open communication with them now, we stand a good chance of getting there.
Response will bring resolution, while reaction brings conflict.
Understanding our teens can often feel complicated and even impossible. Teens are instinctively reactive, so try not to provoke them by being reactive yourself. Response will bring resolution, while reaction brings conflict. By knowing what their love language is and coming to them with respect and understanding, you can disarm your child and make way for a productive conversation.