Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘quality time’

Opening the windows: getting intentional about quality time

five thoughtful minutesIf you’ve ever studied or assessed Love Languages (as we have), you’ll know that one of the five ways people show and feel love is quality time: intentional moments spent focused on the people we love and care about. Long before the girls were born, I remember listening to a Focus on the Family talk on parenting. The speaker (whose name I can’t remember, sadly), explained that moments of connection with a child’s soul are precious and rare gifts to parents. These moments need to be anticipated and watched for. They become more rare the less frequently they’re actualised, and more prolific the more they’re engaged.

He described how a parent might be doing something completely arbitrary, such as making supper or washing the dishes. Your child wombles in, seemingly aimlessly, and strikes up a light conversation. All of a sudden, like a chink of sunlight through stormy, brooding clouds, the child reveals a sliver of his treasured soul – if you’re watching for it. Before you know it, the clouds have closed again. The dusk is back, the moment has passed. You’ve missed it.

But if you’re watching, always attentive to these windows into the innocence and depth within your darling, you have the most incredible opportunity presented to you. You have the inestimable privilege of connecting with another human being, of moulding a life. Of having an impact.

Wow.

That talk really spoke to me, and I determined that, if I ever had children, I would always be on the look-out for these moments.

Since then, I have gotten this wrong so very many times, and parents reading this can no doubt attest to the same in their lives. For one thing, until three years ago I worked outside the home, and hardly saw them at all. Now, I know that a lot of working parents, with kids in school, see their kids as much as possible and have a rich and interactive relationship with them. I am a workaholic and missed many opportunities this way. Even now, I work full time and am not as available to them as I’d like.

But I am available. That’s what counts.

I know that more time with my darling daughters would be wonderful for all of us. But I also know that the time we have together counts. I watch keenly for those brief glimpses they allow me into the deeper recesses of themselves. I sometimes miss valuable treasure, but I have the privilege of being able to drop everything when I see an opportunity, and focus those few minutes on the child who needs me.

It’s a blessing!

So if you need to work full time, and you’re contemplating home education, and you can’t work out how to give everyone the time they need, perhaps this is the solution for you as well. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t get hung up on watching the clock, measuring the physical minutes you allocate each role you play.

Rather, focus on the task at hand, but keep your radar tuned in to pick up those brief and startling rays of light from the magical  places inside your child. When you see the shimmer, don’t miss it. Figure out the best way to approach your child (and give yourself time to get this right), then patiently and kindly peek in through the window. Take a look at the precious gift of a growing person so generously, trustingly displayed to you. Admire it. Adore it. And gently, carefully, prayerfully, mould it just a little towards the wondrous potential you see lying within.

You’ll find that five thoughtful minutes can be worth a dayful of thoughtless hours. Enjoy them!

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The Language(s) of Love.

The 5 Love Languages is the theme and title of a popular and useful book by Dr Gary Chapman.

The 5 Love Languages is the theme and title of a popular and useful book by Dr Gary Chapman.

A lot has been written and said over the years about the so-called “Love Languages” as identified and recorded by Dr Gary Chapman in various of his books. The essential premise is that there are five distinct Love Languages, namely:

  • Words of encouragement;
  • Acts of services;
  • Physical touch and closeness;
  • Quality time; and
  • Gifts.

Each person has a unique way of expressing love, and of receiving love. If, for instance, you’re the type of person who expresses love with words of encouragement, and you couldn’t care less about touch because you happen to be tactile defensive, and you marry a spouse who expresses love through physical touch and closeness and can hardly articulate a coherent phrase, you both have a problem. He (or she) will keep trying to cuddle you, which makes you want to run screaming and makes him (or her) feel under-appreciated. You, on the other hand, will keep saying nice, kind things to encourage him (or her), but the words have no meaning and your spouse begins to feel completely unloved, as you feel less and less valued. Over time, you both seem to “fall out of love” (in extreme cases), when a simple check list could have solved your problems.

The solution is to find out the other person’s love language, express love to them in their language, and learn to recognise their expressions of love as exactly that. Over time, as you both put effort into this, your love languages grow and mature, and you are each able to give and receive love in a variety of ways.

However, the fundamentals are virtually hard-wired from birth, and clearly identifiable by around age 6. A recent discussion with a friend of mine highlighted the fact that I’d barely given any thought to my children’s love languages, so I decided to take action.

Gary Chapman’s website has great assessments to give you an idea of your own love language, and the languages of those closest to you. The kids’ assessment is particularly good as it turns the process into a fun mystery game. I started out by guessing their love languages: Physical Touch & Quality Time for DD#1, and Acts of Service or Gifts for DD#2. Then we played. The results were fascinating, and enlightening.

For DD#1 (who is 9 and thus both more mature and more able to articulate), I was spot on (well, almost). Her score was:

7 Quality Time
5 Physical Touch
4 Receiving Gifts
2 Words of Affirmation
2 Acts of Service

So she love spending time together, and hugs and cuddles. Neglecting her the way my work has forced me to recently is not ideal, and sending her to school wreaks havoc with her emotions.

For DD#2 (who, it must be said, is remarkably articulate for a 6 year old), I was a little off the mark. Her results were:

6 Receiving Gifts
5 Physical Touch
5 Quality Time
4 Acts of Service
0 Words of Affirmation

So while acts of service mean a lot more to her than words of encouragement, or than they do to DD#1, they’re certainly not the most important thing.

Interestingly, DH loves physical touch and quality time, and I love gifts and quality time. At least we all agree on our 2nd most important one!

Get all the assessments online by clicking here.

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