“It’s so important to pursue our kids. It gets busy in life and we can sometimes let those relationships slide and we can forget how quickly our children are growing up. You never want to overlook the long term relationship you’re building with your children.”
That quote was from the last few minutes of a podcast I recently listened to on Focus on the Family called Understanding Your Child’s Love Style. There’s two parts to it and I highly encourage you to start by listening to the first part here .
The podcast had “counselors Milan and Kay Yerkovich examine the five love styles parents have and how those styles also apply to children. Our guests also discuss how parents can work through these love styles to help their kids become healthy and secure.”
Growing up I can share with you that my parents never asked us how we felt about things, in any emotion. Whether it was understanding what was behind anger, sadness, love, loss, etc. We were told one of two things, to stop crying or go to our room – basically dismissed.
What I love about this podcast, and Focus on the Family”s main focus, is that they want to strengthen families. The hosts’ of this talk emphasize that as we grow and understand how to handle our own emotions and how we love, we in turn are growing with our children and providing them with the ability to be able to regulate and understand what’s behind their own feelings/emotions.
It was so eye opening for me as they named the 5 styles of love, to see where I fall and where my own girls fall. I think sometimes the hard part of parenting is earnestly hearing a talk (or reading words) that make your cheeks flush because you realize they’re speaking directly to you and you know in your heart that you are falling short in that area.
What I am learning daily is not to run from that realization, but rather to face it straight on with honesty and acceptance that I want to grow in that area. Acceptance allows me to realize that as I grow, I am able to leave my children with something better than what I came armed with.
The other thing I loved is how the Yerkovich’s shared how important it is that we teach our children to express the feelings behind their emotions rather than simply brush them off, tell them to stop, or divert. Often that happens because we don’t know how to deal, help, or we ourselves are feeling uncomfortable. For example when they’re angry, ask them what three words describe what made them feel angry.
For me, anger is one of the hardest emotions to handle and where I feel I have the most growth to make. Often when I feel anger or rage, the underlying emotion behind that are feelings of hurt, disrespect and not being heard. My youngest is most similar to my own personality. If she is happy or sad you know it. Everyone does. She is passionate. I don’t want to stifle that in her, rather I want to be able to help guide her when she gets angry to understand and be able to express what’s behind that feeling. It’s hard to admit that often times when she was four and furious I was equally furious and feeling out of control… but painfully aware I was the adult and not giving her the best example or help she needed.
Just last night she had a complete explosion of anger, and I nearly lost it myself too. All that kept playing in my mind was the podcast I had just heard and somehow between trying to hold it together I was able to be the solid foundation she needed. It took a solid ten minutes or maybe more because I’m sure I lost track of time, but she went from sobbing to being able to tell me she felt sad, frustrated and mad…and that she needed a hug. Once she had the chance to fully express how she had felt, then we got into talking about solutions next time she feels frustrated if she’s given too many tasks and being able to ask for help instead. Children are great at telling you how they feel if you give them the chance.
I am not a perfect parent by any means. I can’t tell you how many times I have failed and felt utterly defeated and like God must have had it wrong thinking I could be a good mom. And then I remind myself that He wove me in the womb and knew what I was made of and made to do, and I lean into that knowledge.
I have parent fails like everyone, and I also have so many parents successes. All I know is, I will keep on trying and growing so that I can leave a better legacy for my own girls, and they will take what my husband and I give them and turn it into their own greatness.
Like the Yerkovich’s, I believe it’s never too late to pursue our kids and grow in our parenting with them. Even if they are in HS. I think no matter what season in parenting you’re in, reach out to your kids. Let them know you’ve made mistakes and that you are growing and learning and want to do better, because that relationship with them is lifelong.