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Two Ways to Spend Thirty Minutes

I’ve mentioned in the past that
I’m a fan of the whole Love Languages theory – that
there are five “languages” of love you might speak, and
each person “hears” better in one or two languages. For
the record, my languages are “acts of service” and
“gifts”, and Brian’s are “quality
time” and “physical affection”.

Notice there’s no overlap.

From what I’ve read, children don’t really start to
solidify their love languages until they’re around five or
so, which means it’s important to tell your child you love
her in more than just your own language. So while I might think
it’s important to show my child I love her by cleaning her
room, she might “hear” that better by getting some
small gift from me.

I see strikingly different language
leanings in Maddie and Cora, which is of great interest to me.
I’m pretty certain that Maddie’s languages are
“gifts” and “quality time”, which means she
snagged one from each parent. Cora’s still developing but I
see a strong tendency in her towards “physical
affection” (remember the year of separation anxiety? Remember
the still-active ‘hair snuggle’ thing?) and
“words of affirmation”.

All kids need to feel loved by their parents, and will soak it up
however you do it. But I have recently noticed that Maddie and Cora
do indeed respond a bit differently to me if I tweak my delivery of
the message just a bit. Allow me to demonstrate:

Let’s say that I promise one of the girls half an hour of my
undivided attention. No emails, no errands, no kitchen clean-up.
This in itself would be heaven and we can do ANYTHING and call it
well-spent. But an ideal situation for Maddie would be a bit
different than an ideal one for Cora.

In Maddie’s case, she would absolutely adore half an hour
with me playing games. Quirkle, Old Maid, Clue, Candyland –
you name it, she will love it. She gets quality time with me,
interacting and laughing and basking in our conversation.

Now Cora likes a good game of Candyland as much as anyone else. And
she loves putting puzzles together with an adult. But I’ve
found that if her emotional cup is empty, the best way to fill it
is with thirty minutes of – let’s say rough-housing.
Not in a boyish, someone’s-going-to-get-hurt kind of way. But
I will lie on my back and “fly” her on my feet, or
we’ll tickle each other to death, or snuggle then jump and
run and be caught – anything that keeps her in close physical
contact – and at the end of our time together she is one
contented puppy.

Both girls love reading a book with me, but for Maddie it’s
about the quality time spent reading and discussing the book, while
with Cora she’s soaking up the physical snuggle. See the

I’m not saying I throw out all other ways of showing my love
to the girls. But having the Cliff’s Notes to their hearts
doesn’t hurt, either.


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