Loving Our Parents

Enhancing or reestablishing a relationship with a parent may have a profound impact upon a person’s emotional well-being. It isn’t random chance that one of the ten fundamental commandments given to ancient Israel was “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” This benefit of developing a positive, loving relationship with one’s parents is affirmed in the New Testament: “Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise—that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Ideally, love should flow from parent to child. When this takes place and the child genuinely feels loved, it is easy for them to honor their parents. However, when a single adult grew up in a home where he felt unloved, abandoned, or abused, it is much more difficult to honor these parents. I believe that as adults we must take responsibility for enhancing the relationship with our parents; this is especially important if they were deficient in meeting our needs. There is nothing more important than love in this process. Love breaks down barriers, leaps over walls, and seeks the well-being of another.

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Roommates Ruckus? Make a Strategy for Change

Living in the freshman dorm was not one of the things Reed had anticipated about college life. He was used to having his own room. The thought of living with someone else was not a pleasant one. Reed was organized and disciplined. His greatest fear was having a roommate like his younger brother—messy and undisciplined.

Two months into freshman year, Reed’s old fears were his new reality. His roommate, Brad, was a “party animal.” His desk looked like a trash heap, his bunk was never made, and his dirty clothes were everywhere.

Reed was not a confrontational person, so he didn’t say anything to Brad, but inside he was seething. I had known Reed for several years, so when I saw him one weekend I unwittingly asked, “How’s college?”

“…About to drive me crazy.”

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Love Thy Co-Workers

Co-workers, you spend a lot of time with these people. Speaking someone’s primary love language at work can build friendships and create a positive atmosphere in an environment that is often stressful. Coworkers appreciate having someone take the time to speak their particular love language.

A Hard Time: Speaking Cathy’s Language
Susan developed a friendship with her nineteen-year-old coworker, Cathy, and soon discovered that Cathy’s love language was gifts. So periodically, she would give Cathy some small token of appreciation. A few months later Cathy’s boyfriend proposed, and while Susan questioned whether she was old enough to marry, she wasn’t condemning.

Later on, when her fiancé broke off the engagement, Cathy was absolutely devastated.
Knowing Cathy’s primary love language was gifts, “I made her a basket of treats,” Susan recalled. “I included a book I knew she would like, some candy, and a card.

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"For Me!?" Recognizing Gifts as Someone's Primary Love Language

For some people, receiving gifts is their primary love language. It is what makes them feel loved most deeply. Amanda, who had been dating Ben for nine months, was very vulnerable when she said, “I want you to know that birthdays and special holidays are very important to me. I remember crying for two days when my father forgot my sixteenth birthday. I knew he didn’t love my mother; that’s why he left. But on my birthday, I found out he didn’t love me either.”

If Ben has been listening, he has just discovered that Amanda’s primary love language is gifts. If he wants her to feel loved, he will not only remember birthdays and other holidays, but he will give her gifts on a hot August day and a chilly January afternoon—anytime, for no special reason, just to express his love. These “no strings attached” gifts mean the most and have the greatest impact.

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Single Parent Minute: Helping Your Child Feel Loved

The question is not: “Do you as a single parent love your children?” The question is: “Do your children feel loved?” Parental sincerity is not enough. We must learn to speak the child’s primary love language. I am convinced that much of the misbehavior of children is rooted in an empty love tank. Each child has a primary love language—the language that speaks most deeply to his soul and meets his emotional need to feel loved. If parents fail to discover and speak the child’s primary love language, the he may feel unloved even though the parent is speaking other languages.

Let me briefly review the five love languages, and let’s focus on seeking to apply them to your child.

...Through Words of Affirmation
This language lets you affirm your child’s worth through verbal expression. “I love you. You look nice in that dress. You did a good job making your bed. Great catch! Thanks for helping me wash the car. I’m proud of you.” These are words of affirmation.

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The Many Natures of Marital Unity

If the goal of marriage is the deep union of two individuals in every area of life, then what implications does this goal have for an individual who is contemplating marriage? The act of getting married does not just give a couple this kind of unity. There is a difference between “being united” and “unity.”   

If our goal is oneness, then the key question before marriage ought to be “What reasons do we have for believing that we can become one?” As we examine the intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical areas of life, what do we find? Do we hold enough in common in these areas to provide a foundation for unity? No house should be built without a suitable foundation. Likewise, no marriage should be initiated until the couple has explored their foundation.  

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Does Your Partner Really Need to Know About Your Sexual History?

Within relationships, the biblical challenge is honesty in all things. If we have been sexually active in the past and are now seriously thinking about marriage, we must be honest with our potential mate. Disclose fully what happened in your past. Marriage has no closets for skeletons. Your past is your past and can never be changed. Trust your partner to accept you as you are, not as he or she might wish you were. If such acceptance cannot be experienced, then marriage should not be consummated. You must enter marriage with all the cards on the table.

In addition to the acceptance of your potential mate, you must also accept yourself and overcome your own past. If, for example, you have a negative attitude toward sex because of past experiences, you must not sweep this under the rug and go on as though this attitude does not exist. Face it, and deal with it.

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Single Adults are People Too

A Love Language Minute....

Feeling single?

It's one thing to be single, it's another to "feel single." Too often single adults feel like they don't matter, and even worse sometimes their treated that way.

Single Parent Minute: Meet Your Own Need for Love

Just as your child needs to be loved, so do you. While I have talked primarily about meeting the child’s need for love, I am keenly aware that the single parent is also a creature of need. In The Five Love Languages of Children I mention the need for single parents to address their own needs to love:

While a child is working through the emotions of guilt, fear, anger, and insecurity, one or both parents are also working through similar emotions. The mother who has been abandoned by a husband may have [feelings of rejection and anger]; the mother who forced a physically abusive spouse to leave now struggles with her own feelings of hurt and loneliness. A single parent’s emotional need for love is just as real as anyone else’s need. Because that need cannot be met by the former spouse or by the child, the single parent often reaches out to friends. This is an effective way to begin to have your love tank filled.

[However], the single parent at this point is extremely vulnerable to members of the opposite sex who may take advantage in a time of weakness. Because the single parent so desperately needs love, there is grave danger in accepting that love from someone who will take advantage sexually, financially, or emotionally. It is extremely important that the newly single parent be very selective in making new friends. The safest source of love is from long-term friends or members of the extended family. A single parent who tries to satisfy the need for love in an irresponsible manner can end up with tragedy upon tragedy.

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Is It Hypocritical to Love?

Some may question the concept of loving someone you resent. Isn’t that being hypocritical? You have negative feelings, but you are doing or saying something positive. When I hear that question, I am reminded of what the British scholar C. S. Lewis said:

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you love someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.

Your Feelings Aren’t Always Right

Love is sometimes the choice to go against your feelings. It’s similar to what I do every morning when I get up. I don’t know about you, but if I only got out of bed on the mornings I felt like getting out of bed, I’d pretty much never get up. Almost every morning, including this morning, I go against my feelings, get up, do something I think to be good, and before the day is over, I feel good about having done it. Love is not a feeling; it is a way of behaving. Feelings follow behavior; therefore, loving feelings follow loving behavior. Loving actions on my part not only bring me positive feelings about myself, but, if spoken in the love language of the other person, they will stimulate positive feelings inside them.

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