Identifying the 5 Love Languages in Children

A few months ago, as I was scrambling to get lunch on the table, I called for my two kids to start cleaning up. I was just spooning macaroni and cheese onto plates when I heard the two of them laughing from the other room. I was on the verge of exploding when I peeked my head around the corner and nearly had a heart attack. The room was spotless. The kids had actually cleaned up the entire living room, and I hadn’t even needed to repeat myself once. It had been my son’s idea, and it was only one of many times that he went out of his way to serve. My son loves through acts of service, which is a beautiful way of loving, but one completely unfamiliar to me.

My primary love language is quality time, but as an adult, I know how to speak the other languages a bit. I know how to love people who don’t love the way I do. But most kids can’t do that. Most kids show love the same way they want to receive it, so knowing your child’s love language and how to speak it is extremely important. Take a look at these tips for speaking each of the 5 love languages to your children.

1. Quality Time

My son absolutely loves spending time with me. When I announce that I’m heading to the store to pick up a few things, my son immediately volunteers to come along for the ride. He does the same with my husband. At first, we both got internally annoyed when he asked to tag along- errands with even one kid takes twice as long as those without- but eventually we realized that this was how our son best received love. A trip to the grocery store might not sound like “quality” time, but when you have siblings, one-on-one time in any capacity is worth it.

2. Acts of Service

As I already demonstrated, one of my son’s strongest love languages, especially when it comes to showing love to others, is acts of service. Children who speak this love language often will anticipate the needs of others with startling accuracy. They will look for opportunities to help their loved ones and often need little encouragement to do something kind for someone else. Just remember that with children, their definition of “helpful” might not be the same as yours.

3. Physical Touch

My daughter’s primary love language is unquestionably physical touch, as was mine as a child. Some of my most restful and pleasurable memories of my childhood include getting back rubs or having my hair braided by my mother. The physical contact was always soothing, and now I can see the same desire in my daughter. She loves sitting in my lap and being held while we pray and talk, and even when we’re just sitting on the couch watching TV, I can always feel her subtle shifts as she edges closer to me until we are touching.

4. Gift-Giving

Children whose primary love language is gift-giving can often be found creating artwork and other gifts for their loved ones. They often are very aware of what gifts they receive and from whom. They might be reluctant to part with old gifts, since they are all tokens of love in the mind of these children. If your child speaks the love language of gift-giving, you might consider letting them pick gifts for their parents and siblings for birthdays and other holidays.

5. Words of Affirmation

All children crave affirmation, but it is especially important for those kids whose love language is words of affirmation. They will often look for praise and recognition for their accomplishments, however small. They need to hear that their parents love them, and in a very real way, it is not enough to show these children that they are loved. As I once heard from a teen-aged student- “My dad never told me that he loved me, and I was probably in middle school before I realized that all of the things he did for me- that was how he was showing me that he loved me. I just didn’t know it because I needed to hear him say it.”

An Easy Guide to Making Hard Decisions

When I was a senior in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was six months from graduation, and I had two awesome opportunities ahead of me- I had been accepted to a fantastic graduate program and a domestic volunteering program. Both had so much promise, so how could I possibly pick one?

As I agonized over my decision, a mentor of mine helped guide me through the process of discernment. He provided me with a step-by-step process for making decisions based on the writings of Ignatius of Loyola, who wrote extensively on the topic. By the time I announced my decision to get my Master’s degree, I was feeling confident with the direction I had chosen for my life. Since then, I’ve used the same process countless times. So do you need to make a hard decision? This guide will make it feel easy.

1. Identify the decision that you are attempting to make, along with any and all potential outcomes.

This is the time to use your imagination. Go wild, and consider all the possible outcomes for the decision you need to make. Obviously, there are always factors that will remain unaccounted for, but it’s always best to make your decision after spending some time in prayer and reflection, considering how this decision might affect you in the future.

2. Take note of your gut feelings, intuition, and emotions.

If you are peacefully approaching the decision-making process and trust the Lord to guide you, then you can feel free to trust your gut. If you’re anxious and stressed while contemplating your choices, your emotions could lead you in the wrong direction. But if you’re at peace, your intuition can really help you know where God wants you. Even if you don’t choose to listen to your gut in the end, it’s always worth taking into consideration. Oftentimes, God places emotions and desires in our hearts because He really wants us to pursue them.

3. Create a pros and cons list.

I am a huge fan of the classic pros and cons list. The Ignatian discernment process uses a nuanced version of the classic list when making decisions. Begin by listing all the pros and cons regarding your decision. If you’re choosing between two options, create pros and cons lists for both options. Be exhaustive, and be honest with yourself. When I was debating between volunteering and continuing my education, the flexibility to return home frequently was a huge pro for getting my Master’s degree. That might be minor for some people, but it was extremely important to me.

4. Eliminate the lesser pros and cons. When I was discerning between volunteering and getting my Master’s degree, the fact that he volunteering program came with housing was a terrific pro. However, I also knew that if I chose to continue my education, I would have plenty of housing options (and another choice to make). The housing situation for the volunteer program was a convenient pro, but it wasn’t really an important one. Consider your priorities, and eliminate any lesser pros and cons.

5. Circle a maximum of the three most significant pros and cons surrounding your choice.

This is where my desires and gut feelings really came to the fore. As I reviewed what remained of my pros and cons lists, I could feel my heartstrings being pulled toward specific pros and cons that I was just not willing to part with. Identify those most important pros and cons on your list, and circle them.

6. Consider the number of circled pros and cons in general, as well as the nature of each pro and con specifically.

Once you’ve narrowed down your pros and cons list and highlighted those pros and cons that are most important to you, spend some time in prayer reflecting on what you’ve discovered so far in the discernment process. Weigh each pro and con individually, and reflect on how the discernment process might have changed how you feel about each of the options in front of you.

7. Take your altered list to prayer, spend some time reflecting on what your list has revealed, and then make your decision in peace and confidence.

Oftentimes, your choice will become clear during the process of eliminating lesser pros and cons and identifying the most important ones. If it doesn’t, spend some time in prayer and then choose the option that seems best. At this point in the discernment process, you can feel confident that you have prayerfully weighed your options and can trust the decision you’ve reached.

You Might Wish You Were Me, But I Would Love to Be You

I saw you from across the park this morning. You had a preschooler and a toddler running all over the playground, and you were holding an infant in your arms as you watched them. You were dressed in sweats, and your hair was in a messy bun. You looked so tired, and so beautiful too.

We made eye contact across the playground, and you smiled at me. Then your toddler fell off the swing, and you had to rush over to help him. We made eye contact a few more times as I walked laps along the park path, and the envy in your eyes was painfully obvious. You might have thought that I was a childless woman enjoying a morning walk in the park. You might have thought my kids were grown and my baby days happily behind me. I know I certainly looked the part, with my well-rested eyes, my makeup and hair done, and my clean dress. For at least a moment, you wished you were me.

In reality, I have more in common with you than you think. I haven’t had three children, but I do know what it’s like to chase after a toddler and a preschooler. My eyes might be clear and my clothes might be clean now, but I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights, colicky babies, and spit-up stains. But my two children are older now, and my chances of having a third are slim.

You might wish you were me, but I would love to be you. I would love to be pregnant again, knowing that I held the newest member of our family within me. I would love to cradle a newborn in my arms as I watch my preschooler and kindergartner play on the playground. I would love to see my son and daughter fawn over their new baby sibling. I wouldn’t even mind suffering another year of sleepless nights, spit-up stains, and tired arms, if it only meant the chance to cradle another child in my arms.

You might have been jealous of me, but I was probably a bit more jealous of you. You might wish you looked more put together, that you had more time to wash your hair and do your makeup. You might wish that you could wear nice clothes without worrying about spit-up stains. I’m sure you wish you could have a full night’s sleep. I know I wished for all those things when my children were little, and now I have them. But when you suffer from infertility, you realize that having those things isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be (though getting a full night’s sleep truly is heavenly). You’re willing to temporarily trade all of those things (since we’ve already learned that these things do in fact come to an end) to have another baby in our arms.

I saw you from across the park this morning. I looked into your eyes, and I saw just a hint of envy. But what did you see in mine? Did you see my envy? Did you see how badly I want another baby of my own? Or did you just see what I want the world to see- a woman perfectly content with her lot in life, a mother who is happy to have just two children? But do you want to know the truth? You might wish you were me, but I would love to be you.

Book Review for Christopher T. Baglow’s “Creation: A Catholic’s Guide to God and the Universe”

One of the most misunderstood relationships in this world is that between faith and reason, religion and science. Many of us know people who assert that their faith in science has made the need to believe in anything else obsolete. Some of us at least know of people who consider science to be Satan’s attempt to lead God’s people astray. The relationship between faith and reason seems to be an either/or to most people. Either you’re religious, or you value science. But in reality, it’s a both/and situation. We need religion and science. As Baglow suggests at the beginning of his book, science explains the how of the universe, and faith provides the why.

Christopher T. Baglow’s book, Creation: A Catholic’s Guide to God and the Universe, does a wonderful job demonstrating how science and religion are supposed to relate to one another. He shows how these areas of study are meant to be complementary, one shining light on the other. Baglow does this by considering a handful of common topics of debate: creation and evolution, the existence of Adam and Eve, the role of sin and suffering in this world, the resurrection of Christ, and the resurrection of all humanity, just to name a few.

If you’re looking for a short book that explains topics relating to science and religion in simple, yet accurate, terms, this is a great book to read. Combining recent scientific findings with sound philosophical and theological insights, Baglow does a wonderful job showing that Truth lies at the center of both faith and reason, and that God, as Truth Himself, is the foundation and Creator of both science and religion.