Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fill Your Love Tank For Effective Parenting

This is what I probably looked like to my kids yesterday.

This is how I felt yesterday.

I admit it, yesterday was not a good day for me. The cleaning, cooking, washing, mothering etc... just got the better of me. I just felt unappreciated and uncared for. I was mean and just couldn't find the strength to GIVE anymore. Yup, I wanted to be selfish and think of ME for a change. Inside my head I was scheming how to runaway from the house (but I didn't). Sigh! It really was an "ARRRGH!" day. I think many parents out there know what I mean.

My poor kids felt their mommy didn't love them anymore. I even got a note from them saying "Dear Mommy, you don't love your children anymore is it? You only love baby."
Alamak! Well, it was a blessing to get that note coz' then I was able to think and explain to them (in writing) what happened to their mommy. I realized that I was running on an empty "love tank".

Now what is this talk about a "love tank?" It's based on this book called "5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. The 5 love languages mentioned in the book are:
  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Like a car that needs petrol in the tank to function, we need love in our tank to function effectively too. But how a person perceives love can differ from how their love ones perceive it. For example, your husband buys you a high tech vacuum cleaner. He perceives this as showing love because the vacuum cleaner will be a great help in your daily cleaning. However, you don't perceive that gift as love. Love to you is going out for a nice dinner and spending some alone time together. Hence, your love tank remains empty because both husband and wife are talking different "love languages."

So anyway, Monday nights are our Family Home Evening night. And naturally, the lesson was on "how to fill our love tanks." (My DH was snickering when he heard what the topic was, humph!). We wrote down the 5 ways and gave an explanation on what each was. With children you have to give plenty of examples. So, we discussed specific encouraging / complimentary phrases to use and specific acts of service that can be performed. Then we each identified which was our "love language". Jie-jie straight away pointed to "quality time" and "physical touch." KokoD said he wanted "acts of service." But we also know "physical touch" is important to him coz' he is always hugging and kissing me. Daddy and mommy also chose "acts of service."

In summary to my yucky day, here are my parenting tips:
  • You can't be an effective parent on an empty love tank.
  • Be thick skinned and tell your family what you need to get that tank filled. Don't wait for your spouse to guess it right or assume that he/she knows. If you need a day off, just say it. If you feel unappreciated, scream it!
  • Explain to your children how you feel. When I replied their note and told them what I felt, my daughter went "Silly mommy!" Then she tried to do things to make me feel better. She took extra effort to wash her own plate and take care of the baby. So, tell your children you need a little caring from them too. Tell them your "empty tank" needs a re-fueling.
  • When you are having a bad day and feeling disgruntled, it's good to put your feelings down on paper. It gets you thinking more rationally, and it helps to organize your thoughts. It's one way to let the "steam" out and you don't have to scream to do it. Post it on the wall for all to see. That'll get your kids learning to read too. Hahahah.


  1. Hi,
    There's no wrong to show our (mother) madness, down and sadness , is alright to show and share it out with ur love one, or as u said explain to ur kids , why mummy was very down ... Mothers also a human being .Sometimes I feel that way too... somemore u got 3 kids to take k ... it's not easy .
    Anyway, thanks for sharing your parenting tips. i guess it work !!

  2. a&a'smom20 May, 2008 17:44

    Thanks for writting this! Shall remember it when I hagve those days with my boys

  3. good advice. been reminding my self again and again on the behaviour & emotion. i feel that it is part & parcel of parenting. children learn to appreciate each other from the bottom of their heart.

    obviously it works when you tell your children about your sadness & madness.

    so, a big hug to you & thanks for sharing.

  4. I have that book too and I must say that it's really good. Now, I try to make sure that my 2 older girls' love tanks are full before I proceed to do my work.

  5. You are indeed very right and gave us a knock at our heads...it is time to wake up and think of what's goes wrong.... LOVE is VERY important and words too...thanks!

  6. Hi Lian,
    Got to knw about you frm Chin Nee through that flower Lollypop idea. Thanks for the creative idea. I'm a mum of 4 and wish to link u to my blog.Noticed ur blog has almost the same background as mine, too. Nice tips u have in your blog. will visit u more often. Take care dont feel bad. Motherhood is aup and dwn journey. Cheer up.

  7. Yes sometime will get angry if hubby didn't help out. But always good to ask for his favour other than screaming and complain to him why aren't you help out. I think everyone willing to help with we ask them nicely. I told DH to appreciate me by saying TQ after I do him a favour. ;)

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  9. anggie's journel:
    Ya, sometimes have to remind our children that Mommy is also human. They think we are super and indestructible :)

    Yes, must tell your boys that mommy needs pampering too sometimes.

    Thanks for the hug. Yup, it is part and parcel of parenting. Controlling emotions is a difficult thing.

    health freak mommy:
    Really good book. Makes lots of sense.

    bits of life:
    Yup. Love is important and that's why we need to find out what is each family member's love language so there is no miscommunication.

    Glad to have you drop by. Yes, like everything else, parenting is full of ups and downs. Just trying not to stay down too long :)

  10. vickylow:
    Actually I have no problem with DH. It's when I ask the kids nicely and still get nothing... ah, that's when the volcano erupts. Sigh! Must remember they are still KIDS.

  11. How sweet your girl is. You are right. Sometimes you just gotta voice it out. LoL!

  12. I love this post to the core...;p However, to put in practice, you need co-operation from the other half.. If he doesn't know or don't bother after we voice out, our tank will still be EMPTY.. ;p


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