There are some comments that just grow ridiculously long. This is one of those comments. Thankfully, I figured that out before I started typing it as a comment and decided to write a post instead. I hate all that deleting.
Yesterday Andrea posed a question about serving our teens. (But Brenda, you don't have a teen!) I know, I know. I have watched my sister deal with this same thing. Her son is also 7 years older than his next sibling, just like Andrea said. He is 14 this year. Behind him there is a second grader and a preschooler. Since he is the oldest one, he has much more responsibilities than his sisters. My sister has also felt the pressure of ONLY FOUR MORE YEARS until he leaves home. Is he ready? Has she taught him all the things he needs to know? Thinking like that can make you pile more responsiblities on a child. And with good reason.
Andrea's question, though, was how do we still serve our teens (or children) WHILE teaching them to be responsible at the same time?
It got me thinking about a workshop I attended a few years ago on the book The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman. This book is not a Bible study, and it has been very marketed with lots of sequels to the success, but it still had good stuff to say. The main point I got from all of it is that children feel loved in different ways.
"Acts of service" is one of the ways you can "speak" love to your child. Making their bed for them, doing a chore they hate, etc. This is what Andrea was talking about--don't forget that even though they are responsible for more, they still might like it if Mama did some things for them every now and then. If it were me, I would choose chores that they consistently did themselves. That way they wouldn't keep "forgetting" to do a chore hoping that mom will do it for them again!
There are other ways to show love to our children that we need to remember as well. One of the love languges talked about in the book is "gifts." These children keep every little thing, remember who gave it to them, and take care of things--lovingly displaying them in their room. For this child, pick up a new color of nail polish and wrap it in a little gift bag to leave on their bed. Acts like this remind them you love them and were thinking about them. That might not mean a thing to another teen, but if your child's main love language is gifts, then it would.
For me, I'm afraid I have two children with the same love language. (All children feel love in a variety of ways, but the book's premise is that everyone has a "main" language that speaks to them.) My girls both value quality time above all else. They want time with me all to themselves. Being asked to run to the store with me while her sister stays home is a delight to Little Bit. Inviting her to cuddle up with a book and read while little sister is asleep makes Sweetheart's day. If we have been too busy, they feel neglected and they let me know. They need time with me looking into their face, paying complete attention to them every day.
You know, grownups have love languages too. There is also a book for that one. I know for me, I would much rather my husband take me out to eat or help me clean the house than I would like for him to bring me a present. The trick is...figuring out how to show love to each person in your family. Not the way YOU would want love shown to you, but the way that speaks to them the most.
I think this is a very important thing to remember as we go about our days--especially as our children get older--that we do not forget to show love in little ways each day. What special things do you do for those you love?