Not that anything overly bad happened - on the surface, in fact, our live looked pretty blessed. We had a healthy baby, we were settling in to our lesser finances a little more comfortably, and our marriage was strong.
But last winter we suddenly found ourselves struggling with one of our children. It was hard and it was often ugly and by the end of most days we were exhausted and depleted and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Through much prayer we were able to get through the worst of it. But as my head cleared in the aftermath, I realized that as parents we had a long way to go in repairing our family dynamic, not just with our one child, but with all of our kids.
I love our kids. I happen to think they are fantastic, smart, funny, kind, and pretty great. They're my favourite kids by far. And I thought I was doing a good enough job letting them know they were loved, until I started to see patterns of behaviour that indicated otherwise.
It was eye-opening to say the least.
To know that each of my children have their own love languages, their own ways of needing to be shown love has indeed been life-changing. Not because I had to do anything drastically different in how I love my kids, but because it has caused me to pay more attention, to be more intentional in filling up my kids' love tanks in ways that are meaningful to them.
One responds best to hugs and other affectionate touch. One responds best to encouraging and affirming words. And yet another to being helped and spending quality time.
I had become lazy in my parenting, I will admit, trying a one-sized-fits-all approach to four very different children. Understanding why that wasn't working and making small changes has made all the difference.
There is less fighting, less stress, and more willingness to cooperate and listen. And not just from the kids, but from me as well.
Not only that, but it has helped me better understand my own love language and that of my husband's, making me more understanding and patient on the days that I feel like being anything but.
And that is a very good thing.