Monday, March 9, 2015

Tell me something nice (words of affirmation/motherhood and the 5 love languages)

One day, my husband was making blueberry muffins, and our (then) 4 year old daughter was watching him pour the batter. “Oh, that’s really good pouring, daddy,” she said in her tiny little voice. He thought it was hilarious! What an odd thing for a little girl to say! For me, it was obvious: that girl had been spending lots of time with her mother.
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Way to sit on that pretend train, beautiful!

When I’m feeling happy or loving, words just babble on out of my mouth like a waterfall. That same little girl was my first baby, the one who I’d fawn over, from her “adorable little jammies” to her “sweet sweet dimple,” to her “precious bald head!” I remember holding her on my knee, and patting her on the back until she burped, when I said, “Oh that was a great burp honey!”

For me, love naturally flows out into words. And words of affection, affirmation and encouragement are the potatoes of my soul. Words TELL me I am seen, appreciated, loved. When I talk to my parents on the phone, we still say “I love you” every time before we hang up. It has come to mean even more to me over the years, those words that I know so well, to take them into my ears and my heart again and again.

Do your children ache for words? How would you know?
Note how they respond both to praise and to criticism. A “words” person is likely to take criticism harder than others. Even “helpful advice” about something silly may be taken to heart, particularly if their “love tank” is already low.

Do they bring pictures to you and want to explain every little aspect of their drawing, and do they wait for your comment each time? Do they holler “watch me mama!” on the playground, and do wait for your eyes and your voice before they perform?

Do they hand you a pen and a piece of paper and gently remind you to “write a note for my lunch box like you used to do?” (This happened to me!)

We mothers have to use our words all day long, to respond to questions, to manage everybody, to teach, to break up fights, to stop him from licking this or eating that. It may seem hard that I am asking you to use MORE words to fill up your children. Sometimes at night I tell my husband “I am out of words.” Does that mean I am out of love? It can feel that way. For me, that feeling is a red flag reminding me I need to make time to be filled myself with the love of God through His Word and through other people.

We are not enough! We cannot possibly fill their hearts completely, for all time! But we can, with the help of God, love them with the love He gives us! Our love can be part of the grace that fills them! With our hands and acts and food and words we can be used by God to sustain those that we love the most!

If you need words

Friends, what do you do if you are words person and you find your tank running low? I have to admit this is a challenge for me. Sometimes, giving physical affection leads to a response of physical affection, and that’s great. But does it work that way with words? Or have you, like me, ever encouraged someone with words and received a blank look, and walked away feeling like you’re the only one who speaks Polish around here?

I have a friend who does the craziest thing. She actually says, out loud, to her husband, these words when her “tank” is low:
“Honey, I need you to say nice things about me.”
Can you IMAGINE!? The honesty, the humility that takes! It’s almost.. childlike.

Isn’t it lovely?

Since “words” are in English, shouldn’t this be the easiest of all the love languages?
Well, no. Again, we are all different in this area. If it feels unnatural for you to verbalize your love, challenge yourself to try just ONE sentence, today!

If you love a “words” person

- Praise and encouragement- notice the specifics! (Use both “I love you” and “I love it/like it when you ______.”)

- Write your words so they can be saved and treasured.

-Make a spot for words. A bucket, and envelope taped to a wall, a shared journal- designate a place for words of encouragement so you can write them down as they come to you!

- Steal someone else’s words. Simply saying “this song/poem reminds me of you” will communicate affection loudly (assuming it is true, of course!)

- Use nicknames or pet names for you children (honey, sweetie, etc.) Better yet, use names that your children choose for themselves: like Superman, or Muscleman, or Princess. Playing along with children in this way can help them feel “seen,” appreciated, and loved.

- Thank God for them in their presence, and mention the ways you see them growing. (Thank you Jesus for Peter, and the way he’s learning his alphabet, etc)

- Save the words for later in a journal or letter  (Like "My Gilead")

-Pour out words and snuggles together with a head-to-toe prayer 

What other suggestions do you have?
Do words come naturally to you, or is this language a challenge?

This is post #3 in my series on motherhood and the five love languages.  
Did you miss one?

Physical touch

Visit for a quiz, resources, and book information.

The Five Love Languages books, in their many forms, are also available on Amazon.


  1. Great series, Emily. The 5 love languages are eye openers, and heart openers, aren't they?

  2. Every time I think or read on this topic I learn something new about myself or those around me! A friend of mine said, "If this book were required reading, i think there would be world peace!" Maybe not QUITE... but close! :)


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