Culture Teaches Children Love Comes From Outside of the Family

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The economic crisis of 2008 that still continues today has affected the American culture in many ways.  However one of the most overlooked impacts is also one of the most devastating.

It’s no secret that kids are born with a strong craving for love or attention. Ideally this need will be filled by parents, but economic challenges mean many families are forced to get two full-time jobs [1].

Thankfully this need for love is sometimes filled with extended family members who live nearby such as grandparents. However not every family has this luxury, and even when grandparents are present they can’t meet every need.

Over time culture uses this to teach children love is found outside of the family relationship. So the child will look for another authority figure to fill their “leaking love tank [2]


Sadly finding fuel for their love tank outside of the family is a necessity in todays culture, but that by itself isn’t a serious problem [3].  However when their tank becomes dangerously low we begin to experience disastrous results.

A few years ago I met a girl named Rachel (not her real name) in a Bible program. She had a reputation for being “uncontrollable” during class, and all of my attempts to keep her under control failed miserably.

  1. Rewarding good behavior with candy didn’t work
  2. Giving warnings didn’t work
  3. Even the dreaded “naughty chair” had no affect

One day I noticed that whenever one of the women in our group sat down beside Rachel she would almost immediately grab hold of her hand, and suddenly it all made sense.

We were dealing with a girl whose love tank was far too low, and Rachel like many other children ended up turning to peers for filling it [4].

Two weeks later a grandmother began volunteering with us whose only job was to hold Rachel’s hand…we never had another problem

What truly frightens me about children finding love outside of family is most of them will turn to peers like Rachel [5].

Oh at first it may be something harmless like being a class clown, but eventually those comedy routines will not result in laughter [6]. So the child is forced to find another way to gain acceptance.

Over time a low love tank can become something called “Approval Addiction” which means the person cannot live without the acceptance of others [7]

It’s unfortunate that economic challenges keep parents from spending as much time with their children as they would like. But there are still ways to keep your child’s love tank from reaching empty.

The greatest key to this is simple…make sure your own love tank is full

In today’s crazy busy world it’s common to use relationships with others to fill our own love tanks [8]. In many cases this is okay since we are helping one another, but children in their developing years will need more love than an adult.

Coming home emotionally exhausted means that we may end up taking the love of our children and not give any back (without meaning too).  Instead of this we must find a way to return home with a tank overflowing with love that can in turn be poured into that of our children.

There is a countless number of Rachel’s in the world who just want someone to hold their hand, but if we are too busy trying to fill our own love tanks, then we will never notice it.

  1. I completely understand this need for two full-time jobs, however it creates a problem for children in need of love or affection  ↩
  2. This is a phrase used by Les Parrot to describe our need to be loved by others so that we can show love  ↩
  3. Only trusted sources like school teachers are used as sources of love  ↩
  4. by showing off and making them laugh  ↩
  5. unfortunately authority figures like teachers don’t have time to give students personal attention they may desperately need  ↩
  6. take it from someone who prided himself on being a class clown for years  ↩
  7. Dr. Ed Welch describes this in his excellent book “When People are big, and God is small”  ↩
  8. looking for comfort, guidance, encouragement, or a listening ear  ↩

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