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)
For the Introduction to the series click here. For a brief description of each Language click here. For ways to discover your child’s Love Language click here.
According to the 2016 U.S. Census Report (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2016/cb16-192.html) during the 1960-2016 period, the percentage of children living with only their mother nearly tripled from 8 to 23 percent and the percentage of children living with only their father increased from 1 to 4 percent.
Single parents CAN effectively fill your children’s love tanks. But it is hard to do.
Essentially, you must remember that you can’t do it alone. (No matter how badly you want to prove that you can.)
Here are a few practical suggestions. Their feasibility depends on your particular situation:
• Don’t wait for people to volunteer to help. ASK for help. True, sometimes you’ll get turned down, but keep asking until you find a few trusted people to help you. People are often afraid to offer to help at risk of offending you.
• Start with grandparents, aunts, uncles, older cousins. Ask them to take your kids camping or fishing, to the mall or the movies, to toss a football around in the back yard. Make it clear that you’re not just trying to get the kids out of your hair, you’re giving your kids opportunities to experience love from different people who might speak a different Love Language.
• Briefly explain the 5 Love Languages and explain that your child needs extra physical touch, words of affirmation, one-on-one time, small gifts, or acts of service. Explain that you trust grandpa or Aunt Rachel to offer that.
• Step outside your family to trusted neighbors and people at church.
• Get your kids involved in one special activity. I know, your time is already stretched. This is an area where you can ask for help. Ask a parent of another kid on the team to provide transportation for your child. Volunteer to watch one of their little ones (too young for the activity) in exchange.
If your singleness is new (whether by divorce or death) remember that both you and your children are grieving a great loss.
• Grieve together.
• Give extra amounts of your child’s primary love language.
• And give them space and time to process their grief.
• You must process your grief, too. Probably in the late, late hours of night alone, I know. Here is where you can fall into the arms of Jesus and receive the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
Take care of yourself.
• Eat well—this is sooooooo important.
• Get some exercise even if it means pushing a double stroller around the neighborhood. Hey, playing volleyball or kickball with your kids is exercise, too.
• Make some adult time in your life. You can stop laughing now!
Ask a coworker to share lunch with you in the break room. Talk about anything BUT your kids.
Invite another single parent over for the kids to have a play date. While they play the two of you can sip iced tea and chat, or watch an old romcom.
Call old friends just to catch up. Hearing their familiar voices and chatting about old times can fill your love tank.
Cultivate new friends wisely. Try not to talk about the downside of your life. Sometimes people will twist those facts around and hurt you all over again. Be selective. Ask God to send you a couple of trusted people.
Be careful! God did not create us to live alone, but in relationship. But be careful about dating too soon or dating without knowing the other person really well. Be sure to include the Lord in your dates. When you are single and lonely it’s really easy to slip into a physical relationship before you are ready.
I can say this to you from personal experience—the Lord CAN be your husband or wife. He CAN meet your emotional needs. He CAN share your disappointments and loneliness with you. Wait! Don’t make a romantic move until the Lord gives you the go-ahead. Please!
I know that your love tank needs to be kept full just like your kids. Let them—your children—be your filler-uppers. And let God Himself top off your tank. He delivers only the highest grade of love available.