Last week my son turned 12. Birthdays are kinda a big deal at the Posthuma house. Always have been always will be. In fact, I remember our oldest daughter’s first birthday. My husband and I planned a great party for her. That first birthday started the tradition of mom and dad working together to make birthdays special and it is something we LOVE to do together.
This year was no different. In fact, this year my son had three separate occasions to be celebrated (this doesn’t always happen). First family and family-friends dinner, second his actual birthday and finally a sleepover with his best friend.
There are many ways you can celebrate a person. One of the most effective ways is by using the Five Love Languages:
1) Words of affirmation
2) Quality time
3) Acts of service
4) Physical touch
Most people have 1 or 2 primary languages in which they receive love. However, research shows they aren’t determined in children until after age eight. Therefore, kids need to be shown love in all of the above. What better way to make sure your child feels loved than by incorporating each of these into their birthday celebration?
This is how we celebrated our son using all five love languages:
1) Words of affirmation – each year at the family/family-friends dinner (birthday boy or girl gets to choose the meal) we set aside time to share what we appreciate about the birthday boy or girl and how we have seen them grow over the past year. Anyone who wants to share is invited to. Some of the things shared for our son this year were, “You have made your faith your own”, “You are such a gentleman that likes to help”, “You have good manners and handle yourself well when talking on the phone”, “You are maturing and taking on more responsibilities”.
2) Quality time – no matter how old kids get, they need lots and lots of quality time with their parents. My son’s birthday was on a Thursday this year, which is a very busy day for my husband. However, he cancelled both his early morning and evening appointments to be home to spend the morning and evening with my son. Our daughter went to youth group that night, but he got to stay home and spend quality time with just his mom and dad. Part of the quality time spent included an act of service.
3) Acts of service – this year one of our gifts to our son was spending over two hours working with him to clean his room. This was no small task. In fact, this was quite a big deal for me, because usually I can’t stay in his room too long before I feel like I am going to have a mild panic attack. However, 5 big black trash bags later that were donated or tossed in the trash, we helped him get his room in great shape. Even though the gift of cleaning his room didn’t seem like a great gift to begin with, he greatly appreciated the time and service we gave him. In fact, when we were done, my son literally presented me with a medal because I had survived a major room clean with my patience intact.
4) Physical touch – there is lots of physical touch in our family. On birthday mornings, we go into the birthday boy or girl’s room and wake them up by singing them “Happy Birthday” and giving them hugs and kisses.
5) Gifts – birthday gifts are a given! However, it is amazing to me how they can become of secondary importance. What is remembered, isn’t the gifts, it’s how special they felt and the presence of important people in their life that gets remembered.
Birthdays are an important part of our family traditions. We make a big deal about birthdays because it’s a way to show how happy we are that our children were born, that we love them and are so grateful they are a part of our family. This lets them know that their life has value and importance. Also, it allows them to be the main focus for a few days. This shows them that even with parents who both serve in ministry, they are our first and greatest priority.
The next time one of your kid’s birthday rolls around I encourage you to make it a big deal with your own family traditions (or borrow one of ours). Our children are one of God’s greatest gifts to us and that is something to be celebrated!
Your Friend in Ministry,