Saturday Story Time: Love language: Words of Affirmation

Saturday Story Time: Love language: Words of Affirmation

This is week three of my series on the book “The five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. My four children have been a perfect example of the different ways that we give and receive love. This book has been an invaluable resource as my husband, Scott and I, have navigated through these parenting years. With all four of our children now teenagers, and in high school together, finding methods to communicate our love for them in ways that they actually hear it, receive it, and accept it has become a challenge, and an important goal.

From the moment we first met at the end of a dirt road, in a broken down Pepto Bismo pink building, in the war-torn city of Monrovia, Liberia, Christian has been a joy to love. He has an insatiable curiosity, an incredible heart, and is as gullible as they come. Words have a way of tricking him and he has always struggled with sarcasm and subtle humor. He is not afraid to ask when he does not understand which leads to many funny conversations and often awkward timing.

Christian’s primary love language, is words of affirmation. If you give him sincere praise he practically lights up the room with his glow. Scott and I are both verbal people. I am the one the jokes are always about when they talk about women having too many words. I have much to say, think everyone should listen, and find myself very interesting. Scott is a deep thinker with years of training in listening and counseling. He is always ready to take the conversation to the next “level” and sometimes ends up with an audience of one, himself.

This being said, you would think that we would be highly successful at expressing our love in Christian’s language. It has not been so simple, or easy and I have struggled through the years to communicate clearly the love that I have for him. Part of my personality is that I tend to “blow up and blow it off”, I will yell or raise my voice in the heat of the moment, get it out of my system, and move on not looking back. For the other three kids this is not a big deal. For Christian who is a people pleaser, literalist, this has been a stumbling block in our quest to show him unconditional love.

“Conversely, cutting words, spoken out of short-lived frustration, can hurt a child’s self-esteem and cast doubts about his abilities. Children think we deeply mean what we say” page 45. The common denominator for praise and criticism is ten to one. For every one negative comment we hear we need ten positive ones to counter act it. I have found that this ratio increased dramatically for Christian, and I imagine anyone with the love language of words of affirmation.

I freely give praise and find ways to affirm Christian on a daily basis, but all this is easily shot down with a careless negative comment. I have had to learn to calmly and quietly talk to him with no anger, and work hard at my sarcasm so it is not directed at him. This is not easy since he sets himself up so regularly. I am working on very specific words of praise instead of general terms of affection. “That particular jump shot was awesome”, instead of “You played a great game.” I have found that he hears me best in the evenings when it is just one on one and he can take his time to articulate his feelings with out competing for my time with his siblings.

Christian is an amazing young man with natural talent and an innocent charm that makes you smile without even knowing why. I have been told many times how much people love to watch him play sports because he is so graceful and talented. Yet what people comment on the most is his incredible smile that lights up the entire court, field or room he is in. What I thought would be my easiest language to express has actually been my most difficult. I am so thankful once again for this book and its clear. practical suggestions as I navigate through communicating love to my four amazing, wonderful, very different children.

Next week: John, The gift of Service


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