By Guest Blogger, Shannon Blair
Beef jerky? Ties with poker-playing dogs? A gazillion mugs?
Nope. The Beatles gave us the answer to this puzzle in 1967. Then, in 1992, Dr. Gary Chapman taught us the answer isn’t so simple.
Love is best expressed in not just one way–but rather five–according to the #1 New York Times Bestseller The 5 Love Languages®.
1) Words of Affirmation
2) Acts of Service
3) Receiving Gifts
4) Quality Time
5) Physical Touch
Approaching Father’s Day from this same lens can help our children think of creative ways to show Dad appreciation; furthermore, they can consider others’ feelings in addition to their own in the process. Instilling compassion while finding memorable ways to honor Dad this year = Win Win!
(a favorite tradition in our family since Jay could talk and Nora could coo, Love Languages #1 & #3 for the man we call “Daddo”–check!)
(A multi-generational guys’ outing to the ballpark hit it big in ‘16 & was a big score for Love Language #4; however, we have to be flexible in a time of social distance. See these tips below for doable ideas during this “now normal”.)
So how can we help our children–from the tiniest to the teen-iest–translate these 5 love languages on Sunday, June 21st?
Here are some examples inspired by Dr. Chapman’s and Dr. Campbell’s 2012 The 5 Love Languages of Children:
Words of Affirmation – Interview them all about Dad, and preserve their responses on paper or in a video.
Acts of Service – Letting Dad sleep in without noise is always appreciated. Try a nature walk or extra cartoon time while he snoozes.
Receiving Gifts – We tend to delay our own gratification due to expenses for formula, diapers, preschool, and little ones’ needs, so treat him to something big or small that’s been sitting on an Amazon wish list too long.
Quality Time – Send Dad on an outing with pals or for some alone time to focus on a hobby. Time for ourselves and friends can be hard to find during this season of parenting. Guilt-free golf, anyone?
Physical Touch – Think naptime or storytime together–complete with blankies and plenty of snuggles–ideally in a hammock.
Words of Affirmation – Give them wipeable markers and sticky notes to decorate Dad’s bathroom and car so that he’ll see all the things they love about him first when glancing in the mirror.
Acts of Service – Little kids make big messes. Have them tidy up the areas Dad finds most frustrating as a surprise, and challenge them to keep it that way all week.
Receiving Gifts – One word, okay three: arts and crafts. While it seems these homemade treasures will never end, one day they will. Encourage creations that are functional and just his style (ex: a coin catchall made from felt and pipe cleaners in his favorite colors, a cartoon strip featuring Dad as the superhero, etc.).
Quality Time – Help the kids select a recipe to prepare with Dad inspired by what he likes most, such as this simple homemade hot sauce. Then celebrate the day outdoors with a cookout.
Physical Touch – Get Dad and kiddos engaged in physical activities that require close proximity and loads of high-fiving (EX: going for a bike ride, tossing the football, hiking a trail, shooting hoops, obstacle courses).
Words of Affirmation – Have them send Dad a text each hour for 10 hours based on a top 10 list of things they appreciate about him.
Acts of Service – If Dad often gripes about screens, have them agree to store devices out of sight for 24 hours to spend the day focused on hang time with him.
Receiving Gifts – Give kids a budget and help them “shop” online or in store for Dad based on what they know he likes. Bonus: mini financial literacy lesson
Quality Time – Find something Dad and they would both like to learn–and a way for them to start exploring together–in real life or online. Think YouTube or MasterClass (ex: guitar lessons, a fly fishing excursion, research on the next family vacation, a woodworking project, etc.).
Physical Touch – Make time for them to simply sit on the couch side-by-side for Dad’s favorite movie and some popcorn (and possibly some old family videos if they’ll tolerate it)!
This year, I challenge us all to think about what love language the dads in our lives really speak–and to then springboard from that discovery to ask, “Does Dad really want another pair of socks with our faces on them this year?”
If the answer is “receiving gifts” and “yes”, then let’s go for it! If not, we may want to take some more time (which we all have a lot of right now) to brainstorm other possibilities.
At the end of the day though, this list covers all 5 bases–and never strikes out with Dad.
1) Saying, “Thank you for all you do. I love you.”
2) Serving him breakfast in bed (or better yet–just loads of bacon in bed).
3) Making a homemade card or writing a heartfelt letter.
4) Doing whatever he likes to do, together.
5) Giving “warm hugs” to quote the wise philosopher Olaf.
Shannon Blair is wife to Sam and mom to Jay (10), Nora (7), and Tater (78 in dog years). When not teaching writing at Central Piedmont Community College, she can be found getting muddy in the garden, wreaking havoc in the kitchen, running and then un-running with a local craft brew, struggling to achieve Crow pose, reading, or trying to figure out which story to tell next. Stop on by and see how she can help you tell your stories too at pinkpenwriting.com.