Understanding love is, understanding other’s needs

Published 6:01 am Sunday, February 14, 2016

QUESTION: What is a love language?

ANSWER: Most of us are familiar with the concept of “do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” Treating other with kindness and respect because that is how we want to be treated is an important lesson to keep teaching and practicing with our children.

There is also the concept of “love languages,” which means becoming aware that not everything is as important to someone else as it is to me and that it is important to learn what really is important to other people who are important to me. For instance, I grew up with one sibling who was much older and I was often treated like an only child. Birthdays, for me, meant a whole day focused on me. I loved it. My husband grew up with 5 siblings very close in age. Birthdays in his family were very casual, often celebrated in groups and often not on the specific date of birth. It’s not a surprise that it took us a few years to figure out why I was so disappointed that he usually didn’t acknowledge my birthday until the end of the day and why he considered my attempts to celebrate from the moment we woke up as unnecessary.

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Children have their “love languages,” too. Peace lovers are often quiet and witty; their favorite activity is resting and they respond to clever humor. Out-going extroverts love a lot of praise and really enjoy being the center of attention; these kids love the big party.

Born leaders love to work, accomplish much, organize everything and want things done their way; to be happy these kids need to be in on the planning and applauded for their accomplishments. Perfectionists are talented and creative and suffer from social insecurity; these kids are sensitive and need others to be patient while they analyze everything in order to better understand circumstances and themselves.

How we express “I love you” to each other has more meaning when we’re alert to what’s really valuable to the other. Just last week my husband and I were in the card aisle looking at Valentine cards. He said, “You could just pick one out and read it to me here.” You already know that I will be much happier if he gives me my Valentine card when we first wake up.

If you would like to talk about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org and books, CDs and DVDs at the PRC Specialty Library (105 First Street SE, Austin).