A friend’s request for books in handling teenagers on social media has one of her friends advised her to read The Five Languages of Love. Today, in the Straits Times’ forum page, a teenager remark how she comes to term about the ways her family shows love https://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/spore-families-show-warmth-differently.
I didn’t grow up in a demonstrative family as well. Perhaps it’s the western influence, but we have now openly embraced hugs with the younger generation. A practice now in my family is for my young nephews and niece to hug everyone when we meet and when we say goodbye. I often wonder how long this will last, would this still be the case when they grow up to be awkward teenagers and adults? I needn’t worry, for when my sister visited recently with her teenage children from Germany, I see my young adult sons hugging their seventeen-year-old cousin, Natascha, endearing to my eyes. My sister’s twelve-year-old son, Patrick, is a natural toucher and loves to cuddle up with anyone. He surprised me recently when at a picnic in Marina Barrage, as I invited my three nephews to lie down to admire the many kites flying in the sky above, he leaned over and said, Ah Yee, give me a kiss, and proceeded to plant a kiss on my lips before lying down beside me. I felt like Sleeping Beauty! 🤣
Last night was my sister’s final night in Singapore and as we bade farewells to my brother’s family after our dinner, the kids ran around hugging everyone, my sister remarked with amusement, so this is the weekly goodbye hugs.
During a recent gathering with my cousins, one cousin remembered how he was made to kiss our grandfather on the cheek before we leave after a visit, which he did so with much reluctance. I remember my father making me do that too and how I hated doing it, the awkwardness of kissing this elderly man I see very infrequently, who had never once engaged me in any conversation or activity. Isn’t it amazing the shared memory I have with my cousins after so many years and only now know?
I didn’t want to subject the young generation to this same awkward hugs but I am glad they were happy to hug everyone, even making sure to check they haven’t missed out anyone.
Incidentally, The Five Languages of Love are acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts and physical touch. To many’s misperceptions, receiving gifts is often rated highly when children are involved, as absentee parents compensate love by buying gifts for their children when research has shown that quality time and touch is more important. In other cases, acts of services, which is one language of love, is often taken for granted and not appreciated by the recipients, especially with children. Thus the mismatch and the miscommunication of love.
So with all my sons, nieces and nephews, my siblings and I try to act out in all the five languages of love, hoping that at least one language of love will be received and acknowledged. Thus we also try to spend quality together, like doing a picnic at the Marina Barrage recently. Even though the weather was scorching and I hate crowd, I supported the event wholeheartedly. There was a whimper of boredom (he wants the mobile phone) yet in the end, as we admired the flypast parade and the fireworks, or even just watching the kites, I know they will cherish this picnic when they grow up. One language of love received.