Real Stuff My Dad Says 57: Watch What You Say!

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Hola y bienvenidos a “Cosas de Verdad me Papa Dice”, el podcast donde hablamos de cosas de me padre realmente hace decir.

If you don’t speak Spanish, then it’s pretty obvious that he words (or more specifically the languages) that we use to communicate with one another matter.  They matter a lot!

And, when it comes to communicating to our loved ones, author Gary Chapman wrote about five different “Love Languages” that we use.  But we all don’t instinctively speak the same love languages.  Some are fluent in Acts of Service; some speak and hear Quality Time; others understand Receiving Gifts; still others express their love through Physical Touch; while I and so many other people communicate through Words of Affirmation.

Now, my dad’s predominant love language is Acts of Service – meaning that he expresses his love for people by doing things for them.  Likewise, when people do things for him, that’s how he knows that they love him.  Words don’t mean as much, nor do gifts nor hugs… but help the guy mow his lawn, and you’re bonded!

One example of my dad expressing his love language was when my oldest son was born.  After twenty hours of labor and stress, I came out to the waiting to give yet another update to our family and friends regarding our progress.  I was exhausted and really worried because things just didn’t seem to be going right.  As I delivered the news that things weren’t going well, in the midst of the silence in the waiting room, my dad said, “Can I run to In-N-Out and get you a cheeseburger?”

A cheeseburger??  Really?!  In the middle of all this, and you’re thinking about burgers?

Actually, that was my dad finding some way to step in, do something and help and use his love language to express his love for me.  But, with my love language being Words of Affirmation, it took a little “translating” on my behalf to understand what Dad was communicating.

Now, flash forward to just a couple of weeks ago, at my wife’s grandmother’s memorial service.  I had worked very hard to put together a video/slideshow in honor of her that was playing as friends and family walked in to the church.  My parents were there, and my dad pulled me aside and asked if the slideshow could be slowed down a little.  The photos seemed to move through just a little too quickly.

Now, a rational man would have taken this as a mere inquiry or suggestion from his dad.  But, because Words of Affirmation are so valuable to me (and the opposite side of that equation is equally as damaging) I felt like Dad wasn’t pleased with my work and no matter how many compliments I received from other people, it’s Dad’s words that spoke to my heart.

Before too long, I came to my senses and got over it.

Then, later that evening – after a long, long day – my son came to my wanting to tell me all about his latest Minecraft adventures.  He figured out how to do something new that enabled him to do something else faster…

I didn’t want to discuss it.  Not then.

And I politely blew him off.  “Son, I’m sorry, but I just don’t really care right now and I don’t really want to talk about it right now.”

You would think that I would have learned my lesson from the slideshow, huh?

Apparently I’m not that bright.  Because, just as my dad’s words cut deep into my heart, my words cut even deeper into my son’s that night.  (Yes, I did go make it right with my boy)

The bottom line is, we parents really need to be careful with the words that we say to and around our kids.  If they hear us cuss, then they will learn that cussing is okay in your family.  If they hear us stretching the truth, that becomes the allowed behavior for your household in their minds.  If you watch inappropriate movies, then that’s the type of entertainment they will strive after as they grow older.

Especially if their love language is Words of Affirmation.

Now, the trick as parents is learning what your spouse’s and children’s love languages are and becoming fluent in them – not just your own.

Too many parents (unintentionally) assume that everyone speaks their own love language and that’s the only way they speak and hear their devotion.  These are often parents who have mastered their own love language, but haven’t taken the time to figure out how their kids communicate love and become fluent in their languages.

All this to say:  We owe it to our kids to learn each of their love languages; “speak” their love language to them carefully; learn to hear and understand them when they “speak”; and when you do blow it and lose something in translation, make it right with your kids right away.

As my dad says, life is all about relationships.  And in order to have successful relationships, we need to learn to speak to one another.  Most of the time, we speak to each other non-verbally.  Therefore, we need to learn to communicate appropriately in one another’s love language or risk a “relational communication breakdown”.  To learn all about Chapman’s Five Love Languages, I wholeheartedly recommend reading the book.  You can download it for less than $8!

For more encouraging and engaging podcasts and videos, check out the E-Squared Media Network at www.e2medianetwork.com

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About Jefferson Drexler

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