The do’s and don’ts of love tank filling as a single parent
By the number of love songs around, you’d think we’d have the answer to, ‘I want to know what love is?’ All humans are born with an innate need to be loved – a hunger for love. Not having this need met fully leaves wounds and scars that take more than time to heal. Studies have shown that where children receive gestures of love – for example physical touch – they are healthier, grow normally, mature emotionally and are even more likely to survive.
So let me introduce you to a concept I’ve found helpful as a single parent, not only to understand the dynamic that was happening in my family around love, but ways to improve it for my benefit and the sake of my children.
It’s easier to draw on a whiteboard than write about, so here is a video explaining it (with lots of hand waving from me and two word substitutions. Apologies for the light reflection on the whiteboard.)
Watch the video ‘Love Tanks and Single Parents’ by clicking here
The effect of single parenting on a child’s love tank
In a single parent family, the potential supply of love to the child is halved. This is compounded by the parent losing vital filling of their love tank from their partner. Basically, the single parent will need to supply more love fuel to compensate for the loss of the other parent but they will have less available fuel to do it.
You will need to be strategic in filling your love tank because there is no partner to help fill you and you may be the only parent filling the child’s tank. Therefore, you need significant others to nourish you, the parent. You need to keep your tank as full as possible.
Filling love tanks
Other people can help supply the children’s tanks. Encourage other family members, mentors, friends to connect with your children and be a source to contribute to filling their love tanks.
Safety warning: be careful who you introduce and encourage to have relationship with your children. As a single parent you are at risk of being targeted by predators – aiming for you or your children. They befriend and groom. Be aware and trust your gut. If you have concerns speak up, check them out or don’t be friends. From personal experience trust your gut and act, even if others excuse the person’s behaviour.
As a Christ follower I have another love tank available to fill all the tanks – both mine and the children’s, and that is God. Unlike human love, His is limitless and not dependent upon our behaviour. It will flow freely to us as a free gift of grace whether we return it or not. As a single parent I tap into God’s love as a way to fill my tank, but also encourage my children to fill their tank straight from God too.
So the diagram of love tanks could look like:
As a single parent you need to:
- keep your tank full
- ensure your love flows down to your child
- ensure your child can receive your love (we will talk about languages of love later)
- encourage/create opportunity for the other parent, if they are around, to contribute to filling the love tank of the child
- develop relationship with others who can fill your child’s tank such as extended family, friends, mentors – but remember – be safe
Putting legs on it
Click here for the worksheet to draw who is filling your love tank and answer the reflection questions.
One Together: How to build a friendship network
One Together: Increasing your support
One Together: Why every single parent shouldn’t parent alone
Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. The Five Love Languages of Children U.S.A: Northfield Publishing, 1997.
Gary Chapman: The 5 love languages profile for children
Ross Campbell (Dr). How to Really Love Your Child. U.S.A: SP Publications, 1992.
Hemfelt, R., Minirth, F., and Meier, P. (1989) Love is a Choice. Thomas Nelson Inc, U.S.A.