(Inside: Create family-connection by learning how you and your family members feel loved.)
You dropped one kid off at voice lessons, picked another up from swim team and the third you wrangled through homework with a few tears…from you. Do you get stuck in the busyness of life and occasionally find yourself wondering: Do I really know these people I live with?
I asked my dad if he could go back in time and redo one aspect of parenting what would it be? He answered: “I would focus on getting to know my kids more.” (This is coming from a man who slayed fatherhood.)
His words ring in my ears.
I want to know my family. In these fleeting years when my kids are at home – I want to learn about what makes them tick, what their interests are and how they feel loved. I want us all to learn this about each other.
I read Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The 5 Love Languages® and loved it. Then, I found the resources on his 5 Love Languages Website powerful. I wanted to use these tools to create family-connection by learning more about how my people feel loved.
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Here are the steps our family took to utilize the 5 Love Languages Website and build our family connection. (I explain what we did below, but we also I created a nice, lesson plan and worksheet for your family. My coworker – a teacher like me – did this with her family and love it!)
Learn How Your Family Feels Loved Lesson
STEP 1: FIND THE TIME
Dinner is the magic hour for us – everyone likes to gather and eat. However, perhaps because I’m the only female in my family, the conversation can be…well, hard to get going. (“Oldest son, how was your day?” *Fine.* “Middle son, tell me something funny that happened at school.” *I can’t think of anything.* Fifty questions later and I’ve finally sparked a conversation, but am too mentally exhausted to participate. Okay kidding – I love words.) I like that dinner means my family is trapped by hungry tummies and food, so their ears are all mine.
STEP 2: DEFINE EACH LOVE LANGUAGE
My husband and I asked our kids what they thought each love language meant, then went over the definitions after we heard their answers.
STEP 3: HAVE EACH FAMILY MEMBER TAKE THE “LEARN YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE” ASSESSMENT
During dinner, each person took the assessment on the 5 Love Languages Website’s main page. (Click the big purple button that says, “Learn Your Love Language” and follow the prompts.)
STEP 4: EACH FAMILY MEMBER BRAINSTORMS HOW THEY FEEL LOVED
1. Then, each family member recorded the order of their love languages on this worksheet.
2. Each person wrote down ways/acts/actions/words…etc…that make him/her feel loved. (Bonus, the back of this worksheet can be used to draw pictures for the speedy kid waiting on his/her siblings to finish. Mine choose to draw monsters with vicious teeth. See what your kids come up with as they are pondering love.)
STEP 5: BRAINSTORM HOW OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS FEEL LOVED
Next, we brainstormed how our acts/actions/words make other family members feel loved and recorded it on our worksheet.
STEP 6: SHARING
1. We started with our oldest son, and each family member shared what acts/actions/words we thought made him feel loved. (Kind of like a guessing game.)
2. Our oldest son then told us his love language and shared what actions made him feel loved.
3. Repeat for every family member.
Friends, my non-sappy family members enjoyed this activity. We each learned something new about each other. But, what I didn’t expect is that it helped us all better understand the power of our everyday actions.
It specifically helped me better see how parents can daily strengthen connection: Taking time to tell one kid how proud you are of them for trying so hard at their voice lessons, words of affirmation – powerful. Vanilla shakes after swim practice, receiving gifts – powerful. Sitting next to your kid while he/she struggles with homework, quality time – powerful.
And getting to know our kids – priceless!
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.