I don’t remember exactly when we started it, but I as I drove my children to school each day we would pray and then I would tell them, “I love you more than you can imagine!”
As my daughter started middle school I would roll my window down and sing to her, “You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful!”
She would always turn and say, “Mom!” But she loved it. Her friends loved it too and would react if I didn’t do it. The reason I did it was because she needed it. Her way of feeling loved was through words of affirmation.
If I had done that to either of my boys, they would have collapsed in a heap of embarrassment and anger and probably would have insisted on changing schools.
Not all children experience or feel love in the same ways. Author Gary Chapman explains in his book, The Five Love Languages of Teenagers that some need words of affirmation. Other children need physical touch (a hug, rubbing their shoulders after a hard game). And still others need quality time, acts of service, or gifts. 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8 is such a well- known passage that it is easy to forget what God’s explanation of what love truly is.
1 Corinthians 13: 1-8(NIV)
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails…..
Love is patient, even when the toilet overflows from the toy stuck in it. Love is kind when your teen is learning to ride a bike, drive a car, or learn geometry. It doesn’t envy other families who seem like they have it all together. It doesn’t boast and isn’t proud when blessings come. It never dishonors others, even when a test is failed, or a game is lost. It is not easily angered when crayon is scribbled all over the walls, or a teen strays from the families values. It keeps no record of wrongs which means it doesn’t bring up past mistakes and failures. It rejoices in the truth and never delights in the hardship of others.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Think about that! Love never fails. There is such enormity in that. Love never fails.
Tonight at dinner or before bed, take the time to ask your child or teen what makes them feel loved. And then love them well.