Dear Brandon,Looking For Love
I love my dad a lot and I know he loves me too, but he really doesn’t show it much. I always say, “I love you, Dad,” or I give him a big hug in the morning. But, sometimes he doesn’t hug back or say “I love you too,” and when he does say it back, he’s subdued or he just says “Hi.” How do I tell my dad the way I’m feeling without making him feel bad?
Hey Looking For Love,
Okay, first of all, I don’t think you’re making him feel bad! I bet it makes him feel wonderful that you express your love for him. It sounds like he doesn’t show it, but that’s not because you’re making him feel bad.
Some people aren’t good at expressing their feelings. And it’s sort of a generalization, but I think it can be more common in men. I feel like our generation of kids is doing a better job of teaching boys it’s healthy to express emotions, but our parents grew up in another time, so that might be part of it.
Also, my grandma likes to talk about this thing called love languages. It’s basically this idea that different people have different ways they like to express and receive love. Some people are physically affectionate or they like to express their love with words—that sounds like how you express love. Other people like to show their love through actions—doing things for the people they love. Some people even show love by giving gifts to the people they care about.
But sometimes when somebody shows their love in a different way from what the other person wants or expects, it can feel like they don’t care. Something is being “lost in translation.”
So, I totally get wishing your dad were more affectionate, or that he told you he loves you with more enthusiasm. That’s totally fair! But I also wonder if maybe your dad shows his love in another way.
This is something you could talk to your mom about, if your parents are married. If they’re not, talk to another adult who loves your dad, like one of his parents or siblings. They might be able to help you figure out how your dad shows love.
And once you’re able to figure out his way of showing love, it’ll help you appreciate it more. If he gets off work early to make it to your softball game—that can be an expression of love. If he picks up some Skittles when he’s at the store because he remembered they’re your favorite—that can be an expression of love. If he listens when you’re anxious about something—that can be an expression of love.
So, be on the look out for how your Dad shows love for you in a way that you did not expect.
Also, sometimes parents are so stressed out about adult stuff like money, jobs and politics that they get too busy for the everyday stuff. Maybe you can help him slow down. Suggest a game night, a movie marathon or mini-golf, or whatever else might help him relax and help you both connect.
I hope that helps! Maybe some of our readers can tell us how they connect with parents who show love differently than they do. But first, here are the five possible ways people show their love:
- You can show love by giving someone a special gift or present.
- You can show love by giving hugs, high fives and kisses.
- You can show love by spending time and doing special activities with people.
- You can show love by helping your friends or family with something that needs to be done.
- You can show love by saying nice things to a person and giving them compliments.
Which one of these love languages do you use to show someone you care about them? What about your friends or family—how do they show love to you?