Connect better with your teen by learning their love language

Like, Hello, or Whatever…

Ok, clearly it’s been a long time since I was a teenager and I doubt I ever actually greeted someone like that, but the fact of the matter is, teens have a distinct – let’s say unique – way of communicating.

To be fair, it really is a talent to be able to say so much with as little as a roll of the eye 🙂 🙂

Yes, I just used a smiley face as punctuation. That’s another thing to get used to: Punctuation faces and emojis count as language. I have seen full conversations using only emojis.

Teens really are clever! Who knew that the evolution of language would go from ancient symbols on slate tablets to digital symbols on electronic tablets.

While you may be struggling to decipher what your tween or teen is typing these days (and do you even want to know), one thing you will want to decode is their love language. Knowing how your teen receives love will help you connect with them and make them feel safe and wanted. Knowing how they express love will help reassure you that underneath all that sass they’ve been dishing out lately, they do still have a big soft sport for you.

In case you missed it, last week’s post covered “The 5 Love languages” aka the 5 ways that couples express love and gratitude for each other. We learned that two people who love each other very much often speak a different love language resulting in that love getting lost in translation leaving both parties feeling lackluster in their connection.

Here’s a recap of author Gary Chapman’s 5 “Love Languages”:

Physical touch (hugs, kisses, intimacy)
Words of Affirmation (compliments, verbal recognition)
Quality Time (spending enjoyable time together)
Acts of Service (doing things for your partner)
Giving Gifts (presents and tokens of affection)

But did you know the concept of love languages can be adapted to help improve your relationship with your kids too?

Here’s a story:

Growing up, I often felt like I didn’t fit in to my family. The term “Black Sheep” was tossed around more than a few times. While I now embrace my uniqueness, it was hard growing up to see myself through my parents eyes and wonder whether they approved of me. I always knew they were proud of me because they said it so often. I had a concept that they loved me (again because they said it so often, and because my parents were very affectionate with me with hugs). But the truth is, despite all this, I still grew up feeling unlovable. I got the sense my parents loved me and were proud of me…but didn’t like me very much.

My self esteem suffered and so did my relationship with them.

The thing is, my parents were – and still are – lovely! They are great parents, but we didn’t speak each other’s languages effectively. I needed to spend time with them where I felt they truly enjoyed me. I needed to hear that I was special. As much as I wondered whether I mattered, they also wondered whether I cared about them. It breaks my heart to think back on how hard they tried to support me and make me feel good, only to feel as if I rejected them.

Dynamics like this, even in the healthiest most loving households, can lead to families where everyone feels rejected, lonely and uncertain about how to approach each other.

These are families that walk on eggshells around each other, teens that fight your every word, and parents that cry at night thinking about what went wrong and how to get back on track.

These are families that love deeply and therefore feel the pain more intensely. These are families that careRemember, the pain and frustration you feel regarding your teen and the rebellion you get in return are all symptoms of a family that still matters to each other and that wants to fight to get better.

Families that don’t feel these things are families that have given up. So count yourself as lucky if you are still having fights and tears at night.

So how do you get back to hugs again?

Start by discovering your and your teen’s love languages by taking this quiz here.

(Just so you know, we don’t receive anything by sharing that link).

Once you discover how your teen receives love, you can start offering them love in a way that they will understand. They will feel closer and more connected with you because they will feel understood. When teens feel like they matter/they belong, they feel safer. Teens that feel safe with you are more likely to go to you when things get really tough for them (which is what all parents who have “out of control” teens really want and need). Teens that don’t feel safe, accepted, or appreciated (all ways of feeling loved) are more likely to turn away from their parents, leaving parents feeling like they have “lost” their teen.

As a bonus, doing this quiz with your teen helps you discover the way your teen shows love. That knowledge will be lifesaving when you are at the end of your rope because it will help you see the way your kid still shows you that they need you. You will start to notice their love more and more everyday, and thus feel reassured that their heart is still beating strong for you too <3

(You bet I am ending this post with a punctuation heart).