This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The language of Love

A few nights ago, I heard Bob crying in her bedroom, and went to check on her. She informed me that she felt I love Kitty more than I do her. She complained that we never spend time with her. I lay on her bed, rubbed her back and we talked for a long time.

I reminded Bob of how much time we'd spent with her when she was having trouble with her heart, how we stayed in the hospital with her, and took her to Houston for her surgery. I reminded her of how much time we'd spent with Bear when he was raging and having trouble with school, and how we visited him while he was in residential treatment. Just like Bob was, Kitty is ill and needs more attention right now. It doesn't mean we love either one of them more, just that one needs more help at the moment.

We talked about the 5 Love Languages (this is a great book by the way!), and how sometimes we think we're telling people we love them, but since we're speaking the wrong "language" they don't hear it. Bear's love language is most likely Quality Time, but Bear has issues with women so the only quality time Bear wants is with Hubby. Since Hubby and Bear don't enjoy the same activities this makes it very difficult for Bear to feel loved. Ponito's love language is most likely physical touch. Ponito feels very loved because he is a cuddler and Hubby and I are both very physically demonstrative with him.

My love language is Words of Affirmation. To feel loved I need people to tell me they love me, and admire and praise me verbally or in writing. We talked about how Kitty never says she loves me. In fact she usually is pretty verbally abusive to me. Babies and younger children need ALL of the love languages to know they are loved. We usually don't know what language the child needs to hear until they are over 8 years old. Kitty is emotionally and developmentally closer to 6 then she is to 13 so she still needs them all.

I've never been able to figure out exactly what Bob's love language is! Many years ago, when I was studying the 5 Love Languages in Children it suggested you simply ask the child how they know that Mommy loves them. My daughter was apparently in a silly mood and answered, when you hit me on the head with pillows and tell me you love me! Later she added and kiss me. So when we wanted to say we loved her, we bonked her with a pillow, kissed her and told her, "I love you." Repeatedly! What a goober.

Wow, I'd forgotten that until I started typing this post. I know what I'll be doing next time Bob looks like she needs some love! *grin*

So that night I reminded Bob that she needed to make her needs more known. When Ponito needs attention he climbs in my lap and snuggles. Bob pointed out that if she tried to sit in my lap she'd squish me! (she is over 5' 9" now). I pointed out that I could handle it if I needed to, but she was more welcome to sit next to me or lay in my lap!

Ironically Kitty was yelling at me about the same things Bob was upset about. She doesn't feel loved and thinks I love Bob more! *sigh* They do both have a point. With Hubby and I working full time jobs, there aren't many hours in a day that we can spend with the kids. *mommy guilt!*

My point to Bob though is that when we are home they do not seek us out. We are forced to deal with all the discipline because they will not accept it from Grandma. We have to make everyone finish their chores and take baths. We have to deal with Kitty's meltdowns and Bob's refusals to do these things. While I make dinner and do some light housekeeping, all the kids are dispersed. I love that they are enjoying themselves - outside playing, reading, doing their chores (one reason why these are supposed to be already done!), but it means that we get even less time together. We've tried having the kids take turns cooking dinner with whichever parent was cooking, but frankly got tired of having to force most of them to help.

So this next morning, instead of obnoxiously getting Bob out of bed by singing her the wake-up song, tickling her, taking her covers, tossing water on her and ordering her to get a move on - I lay next to her on the bed for a few minutes, rubbing her back and talking to her. (See, I can be taught!)

Imagine my surprise when I heard Bob crying again tonight! She said, I hadn't listened and all everyone did was yell at her, and I didn't love her.

OK, that ticked me off! I asked her how I'd woken her up this morning. She admitted it was a loving time together. I asked her where she was when I got home. (In her bedroom reading a book). So yes, I did start our evening off by fussing at her. She had told Grandma that she would not do her chores. Her book is due back tomorrow and she was almost done with it. Believe me, Grandma and I are also book addicts. We totally get this, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have to do her chores or can mouth off to Grandma.

We had the conversation about seeking out Hubby and I and participating in the family. We'll do our best too. There will always be times when we are so busy that things slip between the cracks, but it takes two! Bob needs to take a lesson from Ponito when you need some love, come'n get it!

Love Languages Update: 

Me - It took quite awhile after I finally got my "love tank" full (Caring for the Caregiver) before I finally discovered that I have a secondary love language (first is Words of Affirmation). My secondary love language is physical touch, which is probably why Ponito and I get along so well. 

Kitty - Years later, Kitty finally emotionally matured enough to discover her "love language," or maybe it just took us that long to figure out what was staring us in the face. Ironically her love language is also Words of Affirmation - which is why she always felt people were criticizing her and yelling at her, even when they weren't.

Bob - We're still not sure what Bob's love language is, but I strongly suspect it is Quality Time. 

When I look back at the kids' childhoods, knowing what I know now... I wish we'd done some things differently. I'm not sure we could have figured out the kids' languages sooner, but it probably would have helped to do what one does for young children and in new relationships... speak ALL the languages all the time. That's not too difficult. Right? Right?!

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