Read: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
Reflect: This past weekend we learned the importance of knowing our child’s love language. It wasn’t until I was sitting across from my then 17-year-old son at Sharp Adolescent Drug Rehabilitation Center that I first learned his love language during an exercise suggested by his counselor. Prior to this, I fell victim to a combination of trying to give him everything I didn’t have growing up and “guilt parenting” where I spoiled him with material things to compensate for lengthy absences from my numerous military deployments. The result: he was experience rich and relationship poor.
Becoming aware of his love language allowed me to engage with him on a more meaningful level and our relationship started to improve. I learned to stop blaming myself for the time I missed out on and maximize our quality time when I was at home.
His mental illness, coupled with drug abuse, presented intense challenges. As a result, my temptation was to disengage from him and his rebellious behavior. Through wise counsel, prayer, and the help and support of organizations such as NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness) I learned that making sure that he understood he was loved was the most important way to support him.
Engaging with God empowered and taught me to love our addicted son and allowed me to grow from this difficult season. Though my son continues to struggle today, I trust God’s good plans for him and the seeds that have been planted.
React: What is your child’s love language? Spend time this week engaging with them on their level.
Pray: God thank you for both the blessing and the burden of parenting. Help us to be intentional in learning our children’s love language so that we can engage with them and develop a loving, fruitful relationship. May your Holy Spirit teach us to parent beyond our capacity and train up our kids in the way you would have them go.