This post by Jean Matthew Hall is part of a ten-part series for parents on the Five Love Languages of Children. It is based primarily on the book The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell, M.D. (Northfield Publishing, 1997)
Parenting—a Service-Oriented Occupation!
From the time you find out you are pregnant into Eternity parenting is a service-oriented way of life. My children are all grown and gone. But there are still times when they need ME. They need reassurance, or guidance, a sounding-board, or prayer. I needed my Mom’s company and love until she died. I still miss those things.
But, back to my point.
A life time of serving the needs of your children means you must also serve your husband or wife, and yourself. Guard your own health and the health of your marriage. It’s often said that the greatest thing you can do for your children is to deeply love your husband or wife.
When they are infants, we parents must do everything for our babies. But as they grow we must also grow and learn how to gradually transfer that responsibility to them. You would agonize over a child who never grew physically. Never learned to walk or talk, read or write. But many parents can’t seem to let them grow up in the areas of self-care and responsibility for self. It stunts their personal growth.
Parenting by God’s design is a continuous act of letting go. Teaching and encouraging them to do all they can for themselves so they become healthy adults.
Mr. Chapman and Dr. Campbell say (page 85):
“You should do for your children what they cannot do for themselves…
Thus, acts of service has an intermediate step. We serve our children, but as they are ready, we teach them how to serve themselves and then others.”
On Pinterest you can find hundreds of handy charts that give you an idea of things most children can do for themselves at various ages. Use them as guides to help you know when and what is appropriate for your children.
Lovingly serving our children is not slavery. Yes, there are many times when their needs must come ahead of our own. We are not only meeting their needs, but are teaching them by our examples the joy of serving others.
For children whose primary Love Language is Acts of Service.
• When they ask you to repair a toy or hem a skirt, they aren’t just asking for a job to be done. They are asking you to demonstrate your love for them.
• Be sure you are utilizing the other Love Languages, too, or your child can become a despot in your home.
• Their Language doesn’t mean you need to jump every time they require something. Remember, one act of service you must do as a parent is to teach them how to do things for themselves.
• If you do the requested act with a negative attitude or words instead of expressing love you are piling discouragement on your child.
• These children love to do things for others—including YOU. Let them try to clean for you, cook for you, make things for you. Accept their acts of service with gratitude and joy. That will give them the love and joy they need.