From an early age, children learn the phrase “I love you.” Most likely they hear this phrase before they can talk, and long before they can even begin to decipher the complexities of its meaning. At some point, they begin to repeat it back to you and even learn to use it in appropriate contexts. Over time, they slowly pull back the layers and uncover the depth of its definition. As they wrestle with the intricacies of this simple phrase, its important to show your child what love means so that they develop a compass early in life. I know that one day my little children will grow into adults and seek love in their own relationships. Therefore, I strive to show them bits of our love language to help foster their own definition at an early age. There are several ways through which I intentionally showcase our love:
Memories. After our wedding, my husband and I created a photo book of our favorite wedding memories. We purposely leave this book out in our living room for us and our guests to flip through and reminisce on from time to time. I also allow my children to routinely sift through the pages at their leisure. My daughter always has the same questions about my dress, daddy’s ring, and our first dance. She always tells me how pretty I was, and squeals in delight from the shot of our first kiss. I love that she is so fascinated with our union and asks so many questions about our special day. I imagine she is internalizing the love our union represents and already starting to dream about her own future.
Dating. Whenever my husband and I get ready to go on a date, I tell my daughter how excited I am to go out and have fun with daddy. She always asks if she can accompany us, and in-turn I explain that we have to go alone. She never seems too disappointed because she is living vicariously through my excitement. I happily choose my outfit, style my hair, and put on my heels. As I am getting ready, she smiles and watches my every moment in awe. Although she can’t form the words just yet, I’m convinced she is subconsciously creating long-term memories of me eagerly anticipating time with her dad.
Affection. My husband and I like to show the kids we are in love by hugging, holding hands, or even stealing kisses. The kisses aren’t particularly their favorite, as they make the kids gag and squirm. But when my daughter yells “again!”, I know she feels something wonderful to witness our love. The little ones will even climb in between us as a way to feel the affection as well.
Good deeds. I enjoy doing odds and ends for my husband and allow the kids to participate. Whether its running to the cleaners to pick up his suits, or pouring his coffee, the kids like to watch and participate in the deeds. Throughout the day, they can see all the things I happily do for their father.
Compliments. Giving each other compliments and praise in front of the kids goes a long way. It sends a message that you like each other and enjoy speaking positively of one another. They can also see the smile it brings on our faces when we are each on the receiving end. It shows the kids that words matter and that love is shown through accolades.
If you let your children witness your love languages, they will learn to comprehend the complexities of the phrase, “I love you.”