The Language of Love
I bought my assistant a tattoo.
Wherever you fall on the richter scale of Tatooville, chances are, you've never heard of someone buying one as a reward for an employee.
Me, as a lily white homeschool mom of two who would never mark my body (gasp!) bought my assistant, an alternative, emo girl, tattoo loving video game playing chick, a tattoo as a bonus for an extraordinary job well done at work.
Why? You ask.
I learned long ago, that when it comes to selfishly loving and serving people -- that it doesn't matter what you want, as long as you appeal to what they want.
What makes the other person happy?
In the book The Five Love Languages, the author talks about relating to your spouse or lover in the way they prefer. This means stepping out of your box for a moment. Do you like gifts? I do. And it would seem natural to think that everyone else does too. But some people don't like material gifts. They prefer time instead, or affection. Others bristle at the thought of lovey dovey touchy feely oneness, and would prefer instead for you to just sit and listen.
Each one of us has a different love language. A lot of it is based on the way we grew up and the experiences and models we had. Sometimes, it's just based on our DNA, and intrinsic desire.
When it comes to living your life, desire matters. When it comes to raising your kids, it matters even more.
When I studied abnormal psychology for a semester at Harvard, the professor gave us an example from child psychologists about children who grow up to excel in their professions as adults. Children also learn better when they are internally motivated. So if your daughter has a natural love for art, she might be more inclined to learn in an artistic setting, whereas someone with an intrinsic desire to learn about science, finds that much easier.
What's the point?
The point is, I could have bought my assistant a gift certificate to a steakhouse, like I would have liked, but it wouldn't do much in the way of showing my appreciation for her job well done. That dinner certificate might sit in the drawer for a year or more, until it expired.
There's a lot to be said for serving others, and rewarding your kids, through intrinsic desire.
One mom I know, a fitness expert, is completely against any form of sugar. She rewards her kids with soccer balls and fitness memberships. When they come to my house though, they binge on junk food before I can get them ushered out of the pantry. If there's a box of Oreos around, it's gone within five minutes of their arrival.
I'm not suggesting we compromise our own values. But I can tell you right now, that rewarding a kid like that with an Oreo or two would bring in a lot of straight A's on the report card!
Sometimes we have to stop and think outside of ourselves. Your husband might love sports, and it might be a point of tension between you two. But maybe, just maybe it's time to book those basketball game tickets and take him as a surprise!
Are you giving back to the ones you love, the way they want you to give?
Tammy Kling is a life coach, advocate for the homeless, and international author of 29 books including The Compass. She's the mom of two boys, an avid trail and mountain runner, blogger, and adventure travel writer.