by Dr. Gary Chapman
"I don't ever do anything right." Those are not the words of a child, but of a 35 year old single daughter who has never felt loved by her mother. "I could never please my Mom," she said. "Whatever I did it was never good enough for her. I just wish that once I could hear her say, 'I'm proud of you.'"
This daughter's love language is "word of affirmation," but she never received them from her mother. Does the mother love the daughter? My guess is 'yes'. How tragic that she never learned to communicate her love in a language her daughter could understand. Dr.Ross Campbell and I wrote the book:The 5 Love Languages of Children with the prayer that it would help thousands of parents learn to effectively love their children.
Do They Feel Loved?
Almost all parents love their children, but not all children feel loved. Often the difference lies in the way parents talk to their children. Words of affection, praise and encouragement communicate "I love you." They fall like gentle rain on the soul of the child. They nurture the child's inner sense of worth and security.
Conversely, cutting words, spoken out of anger, can hurt a child's self-esteem and create doubts about his abilities. Children think we deeply believe what we say. The Hebrew proverb did not overstate the reality when it said, "The tongue has the power of life and death." Words are spoken quickly, but are not soon forgotten. A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime.
Love Has a Tone
Long before children understand the meaning of words, children receive emotional messages. The tone of voice, the gentleness of mood, communicate emotional warmth. All parents speak to their infants, and what the baby understands is the look on the face and the affectionate sounds, combined with physical closeness.
Young children don't understand the meaning of the words, "I love you." They can't see love as they can see a toy or a book. But they begin to associate the words "I love you" with the hugs and tender touches you give them as you say the words. It's the tone of voice that they hear and they associate it with the words, "I love you." Affirming words communicate love even before the child understands the words.