My son's highest love languages are words of affirmation, and gifts. This means that he needs to hear that I believe he's amazing. He needs me to celebrate with him, even in the seemingly small accomplishments. And he needs me to give him things, to show that I find value in him.
Words of affirmation is also one of my highest love languages, so this comes a little easier for me. It's not all about constant praise, or making someone dependent on the praising person. It's in the little words. The "I know you can do this", when he's getting frustrated with a task. The "you're such a good helper", when he assists with dinner. Or "thank you for being thoughtful", when he meets someone else's need. And "man, you're brave", when he does a new trick on a skate board, even when it sends me into a panic.
However, the love language of gifts, falls on the bottom of my scale. By bottom, I mean like a zero, literally no score on the love language test. Things are not important to me. I'm the person that would rather have a heartfelt note, or a hand picked flower; than money frequently spent on an expensive gift.
I had assumed that my son feeling loved by receiving gifts, would mean my savings would be wiped. The love language of gifts is not about earning love, which is how I once viewed it. My perception was that constantly giving things, could create a greedy, sense of entitlement, and an impossible to please child; setting the stage for a narcissistic adult.
However, if your child has come from a hard place, I would venture to say gifts could scale high in their love languages. When a child has experienced extreme lack, their mindset is often that lack equals unloved.
This doesn't mean I go out and buy lavish gifts for my 7 year old. What this looks like for me, is forgoing my morning latte, brewing coffee at home instead, and making a stop by the local dollar store on a break.
It also means I pay attention to the smallest details in his every day happenings, to assure the gifts speak to his heart, not just add clutter. His slinky had broken, and I noticed the gravitation toward them anytime one could be seen. He's in the bug catching stage, but a jar without air holes will quickly kill them. I observed certain textures he was attracted to, and looked for things that matched the desired texture.
I came home from an Empowered to Connect conference, bearing gifts. But I didn't want the message to be that I was attempting to compensate for my time away, by giving him things instead. Watched words wisely, and used this opportunity to remind him that we are a team, and he is important.
"Hey bud, thanks for being understanding about the schedule changes for my class. I thought of you the whole time, and got you something!"
You would've thought I bought him a new car.
"Really?! Thanks! And you're welcome mom! You're the best! I love you" and a big bear hug.
I'm not mother of the year. Trust me, I fail daily, sometimes hourly.
We spent the remainder of the evening making use of the new little gifts. It was one of the best evenings we've had in quite awhile.
My son felt like the most important kiddo in the world. And all it cost me, was some attentiveness to his world, and my $5 latte.
I challenge you to discover the love languages of those who are important in your life. Find ways to show them how much you love them, in ways they receive love the best. And I hope every parent gets to experience an evening like the one my son and I just shared.