She is seven and I am only allowed to kiss her once a day on the top of her head.
Hugs are only given, never received.
Snuggling is only when there is a subsequent fever.
At first – I thought perhaps my daughter was merely attempting to emulate her tween sister. I waited until she and I were alone, with hope and a prayer, that snuggles would be imminent.
But they weren’t.
I began doing what all good mothers do – research and reading every article on parenting my friends of happy, affectionate kids posted on social media. I did exactly as they instructed, but with a futile outcome.
It started with my daughter’s stuffed animals. Consistently, my daughter asked me to arrange them on her bed for her. At first I resisted, not wanting to become the indulgent parent. I would tell her she could do it herself and noticed her face become crestfallen. When I did participate and at least “help” her arrange them, she became animated and told numerous stories and I was rewarded with a ginormous hug and thank you.
I started to notice a pattern.
Whether it be helping her with reading, helping her clean her room, helping her help me make dinner, helping her learn to tie her shoes – her joy radiated.
But wasn’t this just what I am required to do as a mom? Aren’t these the very things that cause me to want to run incognito to a beach in Mexico , with the fruity umbrella drinks lined up at the bar?
Like most of my Christian couple friends, my husband and I attended a Couples Retreat early on in our marriage.
We fought the
We did leave with this resourceful book that has been very helpful for us in our marriage called The Five Love Languages, and one of them is entitled Acts of Service. This is part of the description::
“If this is your spouse’s primary love language, nothing speaks as loudly as these acts of service. You may give him or her words of affirmation, but they are thinking, “Cut the talk. If you loved me, you would do something around here.” For them, actions truly speak louder than words.”
Interestingly, this is my daughter.
For her, acts of service are a tangible example to her of our love for her. She feels special and cared for when we are attentive to her needs and help her accomplish every day tasks. For her – these actions on our part do speak much louder to her than a hug, her favorite cupcake, or even the traditional ways of spending time with her such as playing a board game, doing a craft, or going to a movie.
It took us a while as parents to figure this one out.
It has been frustrating when we try to love on her or project on to her other ways we think she should respond to as an act of love.
Once we let that all go, and once again took on the stance of the learner, it all began to fall into place.
And what joy it is now to love on her the very way she was created to receive it.
We can’t wait to share this with her fiancé some day 😉