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Preparing for The Talk, Through Finding the Talkable Moments

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As much as my Mother adored me, (and she did), it was never easy for me to talk with her about things that were deeply personal to me. That’s on me. For some reason, when it came to topics concerning my body, I held her at arm’s length, so to speak.

Which is why, I’m not surprised to find that my daughter, by nature, is very much like I was. But which is also why I determined that from an early age, I was not going to take the easy way out and just avoid communication with her in regard to private matters, like her body. I decided that I had to find a way to make that conversation more comfortable for her than it had been for me.

But how does a Mom do that?

When I was first married, I learned that according to  Dr. Gary Chapman’s book on The Five Love Languages, husbands and wives tend to communicate their love for each other in different ways, and that each tended to do the things for the other, that they would want done for them. The book said that there are five different basic types of love languages, or ways that people prefer to have love communicated to them.  And they are:

1) Words of affirmation – TELL me that you love me, with words that show your appreciation for me.
2) Quality Time – Show me that you love me by spending time with me, regularly, and focusing only on me.
3) Receiving Gifts – Show me your love through the effort and thought you put into choosing or making something special just for me.
4) Acts of Service – Show me that you love me by helping me accomplish all that I need to get done, or by doing something for me that will make my life easier.
5) Physical Touch – Show me that you love me by an embrace, a kiss, a cuddle, holding my hand or some type of physical touch.

An even more surprising concept to me was that love languages weren’t just about couples. Love languages also apply to the children we are raising. Each child has at least a primary and a secondary love language: a way that they hear love better than in any other way.

And the tricky part is that we tend to try to communicate love out of our own primary and secondary love languages. But what if our child has very different love languages? That can make for a frustrated Mom, and a child who feels unloved, even though she is not.

So, the first part of me working toward having a better relationship with my daughter than I had with my own mother, was to try to identify her primary and secondary love languages. What most made her face light up? What did she seem to crave from me?

My girl seems to love receiving gifts. When she gets a little surprise from me or from a friend that someone has picked out for her, her face lights up. (The negative side of this, of course, is that it is PAINFUL for her to part with things, because these things have meaning to her. Hence, one room in our home has stuffed animals that are fairly bulging out of the cracks around the doorframe. But that’s another post.)

Kotex sent me this adorable bag as gift to my daughter, so that she’s ready for her period wherever she goes.
To the girl who has Receiving Gifts as a secondary love language? SCORE!!!

She also seems to really enjoy spending quality time with me. Our very best conversations happen on the way in the car, driving her to and from dance class. Or, when I take her shopping, which dovetails nicely with receiving gifts. So I invest time and energy into those two things: taking her places with just the two of us (Quality Time), and giving her little gifts that I’ve chosen just for her. Because I’ve seen BIG payoffs in our relationship from those types of activities.

But what if those aren’t the things that would really speak to your daughter? I asked a group of my friends who are moms themselves, for suggestions on ways that they bond with their daughters, and here are just a few of the wonderful ideas they had:

Words of affirmation don’t have to be just the spoken word, like saying, “I love you” or “I’m proud of you”. One mom noticed that her daughter loves to leave her love notes, so now, in turn, she leaves love notes for her daughter, saying words that affirm her daughter. A couple of moms mentioned that even while they knew that hearing words of affirmation was a primary language for their daughters, they still from time to time had a hard time communicating with their girls verbally, so here are some creative ways they handled that problem. One mom has had great success with texting her daughter. While the mom really enjoys talking,  her daughter needed fewer words, so texting has been the perfect way for this mom and daughter to connect emotionally. Pretty cool, huh? One mom decided that she and her daughter needed more time to reflect before they responded to each other, so she has started a journal that they each can write in, where they can share the important things that they want to say to each other. Again, I think this is a stroke of genius.

Quality time can be as simple as taking one child at a time with you when you need to run an errand. Or, it can be that moment when you come in to give a goodnight kiss to the child. Kids very often love to delay bedtime by choosing that opportunity to bare their souls! It’s the smart mom who seizes the moment, and lets the rest of the world fall away, when her child’s heart is ripe and ready to talk. Asking what was the best part of her day, or what was the worst part of her day, or asking how you can pray for her are all ways that you might enter into your daughter’s world, and catch a glimpse of the inner workings of her heart. (And she’ll just think she’s getting out of going to bed on time! Win/win!!!) Some other suggestions, other than talking at bedtime, for quality time with your girl: sing together, play music together, listen to each other’s music. Read the same work of fiction, just for fun, and talk about your thoughts on the story. Watch a movie or a TV show together, and discuss the things you liked and disliked.

Receiving gifts: for those people to whom a gift means love, the expense of the gift really doesn’t matter. The fact that they were thought of, and that someone made the effort to choose something especially for them: this is what truly counts. A pack of my daughter’s favorite gum or a lip gloss flavored like her favorite soda pop can mean love to my girl. Once I went on a women’s retreat where the women did a craft project, and I designed my craft to be a gift for my daughter. You would have thought I had given her the moon, instead of a painted tile. And because I know she is passionate about stuffed animals, the girl has a room that…wait…I’ve already talked about that.

Acts of service: kids who speak this language truly do appreciate a helping hand. The fact that you will stop what you are doing to make their life easier means the world to them. Some moms find that helping their kid organize their rooms, or set up their weekly schedule for attacking schoolwork means so much. Teaching them to knit, or to cook, or helping them learn a skill they need for whatever sport they’re involved in could all be acts of service.

Physical Touch: these are the kids who are snuggle bugs, who just can’t seem to get enough of being close to you. To them, love is a back scratch, or a sweet kiss, or a monster hug. You know what to do best for your cuddle bunny!

Communicating to your daughter on a regular basis through her love language will help pave the way for you to comfortably have the talks that you’ll want to have with her in regard to her changing body and monthly cycle. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and relationships don’t just happen overnight. For our daughters, it takes patience, and faithful sowing before you reap the harvest that you’re longing for: a relationship that will have earned you the right to speak into your daughter’s life regarding things that are a little more private.

Nail file, hair elastics, lip gloss, adhesive bandage, mini-pad and maxi-pads: she’s ready…just in case.

And when you’re ready to have the talk,  Kotex has some marvelous resources on their website that you might want to take advantage of. Here’s the link to help you prepare for the talk: check it out! There you’ll find a calendar with facts about puberty, questions your daughter may ask (and answers!), ways in which you might start the conversation with your daughter, and more. If your teen or tween has questions she’d like to research on her own, Kotex has a website designed especially for teens! Invite her to give it a try.

If Love Languages are for real, have you figured out your daughter’s love languages?

I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.