THERE are different languages of love. Some show it through words, affection, or by providing for material needs, while some don’t say anything at all.
Love is not a one-size-fits-all and it can be as difficult as it is as natural because not everyone who loves can have the capability to show it.
And just like any other relationship, that between a parent and a child can be complicated too.
Growing up as the youngest of four, I have never felt that I lacked attention from my parents. In this sense, I consider myself lucky for I have never doubted their love for me. But for other children, that isn’t always the case.
I realized this while I was at my parents’ house, thinking about all five of our dogs and how much we love all of them equally, but that the youngest always got the most attention. But that didn’t make us love our older dogs less than we used to. It’s just that there is always space in our heart to love one more.
My parents’ language of love has always been to provide for our school needs and to make our life as comfortable as possible with the presence of helpers, etc. They made sure we went to the best schools even though money was tight. They were never the type to say “I love you” or shower us with hugs, kisses and praises whenever we achieved something in school. They are not sweet and words intended to discipline can sometimes wound.
But where words and affection fail, working hard never does. So they continue to work hard to provide for our needs. And that is how they show their love - through providing.
A parent-child relationship is a different journey for everyone and parents find it difficult to understand and adjust to how you are changing as you grow older.
Usually, the eldest teaches parents how to be parents, and the child is forced to mature quickly. It’s a two-way journey and it’s not always an easy one.
If you have a parent who has a different language of love, here’s a guide that I’ve learned in my adulthood. I hope that it will be helpful.
- Don’t punish them for something that they are not capable of doing. Lovey-dovey words just don’t work for them.
- Don’t expect them to apologize, but take their decision to continue to provide for your needs as their form of apology.
- Don’t expect them to shower you with words of praises when you have an achievement. They want to keep you humble and they don’t want to be emotional. They are proud of you even if they don’t tell you.
- Don’t forget that they have feelings, they just don’t like to show it.
- Understand that sometimes they say the opposite of what they mean.
- Understand that a parent will never stop worrying about their own child.
- Forgive your parents for their mistakes. Just as they are always ready to accept you when you come home, no matter what you did while you were away.
- Don’t expect them to tell you in words what you want to hear. They are just not capable of doing so.
- Don’t waste time. Your parents are growing older every single day. Who knows when time will take them away from you?
There is no perfect parent, just as there is no perfect child. But if you open your heart to the love that remains unspoken, it will heal your wounds and bridge the gap between you.
There is a line from the movie “Her” that I’ve always resonated with: The heart is not a box that gets filled up. It expands in size the more you love.
They don’t love the other sibling more, no. They love you all equally. Their incapability of expressing love does not make them incapable of loving. Not saying “I love you” does not mean they don’t love you. In many ways, they are different from you. Just as you are different from them. But that doesn’t make them love you less.
It makes them love you more.