The Ten Love Tanks
Birth Thru Age 14 and Love Tanks There are ten love tanks that we need to refill often to keep ourselves healthy and happy in life. I highly recommend a book called, “How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have” by John Gray, the author of the Mars-Venus books that teach us relationship skills. How we act as adults depends on how much love we felt we received as children. We can give this love we might not have got then to ourselves now by simply filling those tanks that have never received that love.
From conception to birth, the child is connected to God‘s energy inside the womb. This energy does everything for us and is our first relationship with God. By age two we become disconnected from this energy and tend to forget that God is always there to take care of us and help us. All healing takes place from this divine energy.
From birth to age seven begins the birth crisis. This is a dreamy state of development in which we have no ability to know who we are or what we deserve except from the way our parents treat us. We grow as babies through our parent’s loving support.
Children learn one of two basic attitudes: “I have needs and I have the power to get them met.” or “I have needs and I am powerless to get them met.”
We then move through our life feeling powerful or powerless. If a child grows up too fast they miss important stages of development. When we feel powerless to get what we need to know, we also do not have the ability to even know what we need or want.
It is hard to define what our needs are or to feel worthy or entitled to receive those needs being met. Yet the more we receive what we need, the more we feel we are entitled to receive. Without a clear sense of what we do need, we sometimes try so hard to receive love that we give up our ourselves We become overly dependent on others.
We become needy and this drives others away. This tends to make us overly dependent upon ourselves. There needs to be a healthy balance of dependence upon God first of all, then some dependence upon ourselves and others in life. It is not necessary to push away valuable support offered by others. We can form close relationships in which we can feel comfortable by simply learning to fill our ten love tanks.
From age seven to fourteen is the silent crisis. If during our first 14 years, we do not feel safe to resist changes and work through our feelings, we do not form a clear sense of who we are or what we like. Emotional outbursts are common in this stage and are healthy for emotional growth. Parents should not punish children for these but use time outs, one minute per year age of the child, where they are sent to a room to vent their anger and frustration where they cannot upset others with their tantrum. When a parent does not lose control in response to a child’s tantrum, the child will learn how to have strong feelings while staying in control. Healthy adults can also have tantrums but they also have learned how to nurture themselves without dumping their negativity on others.
When we blame others for our problems and our unhappiness, we need to fill love tank #1. To break free of blame we must understand our feelings the way a parent would do for a child. We have to keep the first 3 tanks full without having to regress and behave like two year olds.
Keeping the first 3 love tanks full is our basis for feeling secure and safe. If we have been neglected in these areas, we won’t feel worthy of support and may not even know what we deserve. On some level we feel it might all be taken away. We think we have to be good or act in a certain way to deserve love. This is too much pressure for a little child. Children need to be loved unconditionally.
When our love needs are met in this stage of life, we are able to touch and taste the joy of being connected to our true selves. If we felt loved and nurtured in childhood, we automatically are able to love ourselves as adults. Without it, we never tend to measure up to our standards.
Children’s greatest needs up to age 14 is to feel safe and to feel unconditional love. They need to have permission to make lots of mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. A parent’s job is to manage the child’s life and protect them from negative influences as this learning process occurs. This should be a time of fun and free expression.
Too much emphasis on perfection can interfere with a child’s natural development. When we are too serious and work oriented as adults it is because those expectations of us began at such an early age. Too much emphasis on doing family chores, working hard, and making sacrifices for the family. Ideally, it would be a time of joining with others who care about you, a time of innocence and unconditional forgiveness. A child will conclude, “If what I did was bad, then I am bad.” “If bad things happen to me, then I must be bad.” Most adults still have not learned this distinction because as children they did not have parents who knew the difference.
When correcting children, it is better to use the term, “out of control” instead of “bad” behavior wise, because there is no negative association with who the child is. By using time outs the child has time to regain his control. Regular time outs will allow a child to stay connected to their feelings but realize they must also be able to control those feelings. Punishment never works. 90% of male prisoners are men, 90% of clients in counseling are women.
Men who are punished as children and do not develop healthy love tanks act out that mistreatment on others.
Women tend to act it out on themselves. Punishment causes us to gradually desensitize our feelings and lose our desire to please our parents.
Adults who are people-pleasers were never successful in pleasing their parents or family members. When parents make it easy for their children to please them, the child’s self-esteem can be healthy and grow. They need you to listen and understand them. They need unconditional caring. Help them form friendships with other children and give them opportunities to be with other children. If a parent gives too much support a child will push them away because they must do certain things for themselves. A big part of growing up in the 7-14 stage is working with them through social issues and challenges that come up in life.
Ages 14-21 The Hormones Crisis Around puberty boys and girls get large doses of hormones that create many new changes in their bodies. Girls’ self-esteem changes, and boys’ behavior changes. It is during this cycle of life that love tank four comes into being, Peer support.
If the 3 earlier tanks have been filled properly it will be easier to adjust to this new cycle, but these years are still hard to get through. They make a shift from their parents to their peers. Having fun is no longer a priority. They want to do things their way. School work and group activities takes on more appeal now. They can be swayed by wanting to join gangs now. Mentors of groups are appealing now to this age group, especially if strong role models are not available at home. It is normal for teenagers to look outside their home to find out who they are and what they can do. They learn from others and then come back to the family and show them what they can do. This is a time when self-confidence is building. They need to discover what they are good at and excel in that field. It is very important that parents do not alienate their teens during this time. Where we were managers during the birth to 14 years, we now have to become consultants.
Managers can control but consultants can only give advice when asked and then the clients can choose to do what they want to do. You are still needed as a loving understanding parent but they just don’t need you as much as before. If you give up telling your children what to do then they will learn to come to you and ask. Instead of telling them what to do, ask them, “What do you think?” They will stay connected to you more if you listen to them and continue to ask them questions.
Be careful not to tell them what to do or to give out too much advice though. The proper growth will take place just by sharing with other peers who have similar interests and goals. Just be there to guide them now gently.
What are the ten love tanks and how can we fill them?
The Ten Love Tanks
For more information on this, please buy John Gray’s book, “How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have.”
1. Love and support of God – To fill this tank you need to have regular contact with God in prayer, or meditation, or by reading His Word.
2. Love and support from parents – Adults do not need parents to give them this love – seeing a counselor is like hiring a parent – You must learn how to listen to your inner needs, understand your inner child, and give yourself the unconditional love your inner child needs. When we are not managing our emotional experiences in life in a loving, peaceful manner this is the tank that we need to fill.
3. Love and support from family, friends, and having fun – When your life is too serious and you are not having fun this is the tank that needs filling – Fill it by developing and enjoying friendships and by just having a good time. Watch a funny movie and laugh. Do something you enjoy doing. Have fun. These first three love tanks are necessary for the birth to age 14 years. If your love tanks from these years went lacking then your life will be messed up now. Learn how to give yourself the love your inner child needs and fill these tanks yourself and become healthy and happy forever. The next two love tanks appear during the age 14-21 years.
4. Peer Support – To fill this tank you need to be in a club or support group of some kind. Have a favorite sports team. Participate in activities at church. By awakening this energy you will have renewed energy and vitality.
5. Self-Love – To fill up this tank you have to make sure that you come first in your life. Be true to yourself. Know yourself. Be in charge of your life. Say no to things that do not make you happy. Experiment with life. Behave differently. Give yourself freedom to do things you normally would not do. Go someplace you will never go again and enjoy yourself even if people think you are acting foolishly, they will not know you. Stay in touch with what you want out of life and go for it. Take a few minutes out of every day to fill this love tank. Plan your day to do the things you enjoy doing. The remaining love tanks are filled as adults.
6. Relationships, partnerships, and romance – To fill up this love tank, you need to make sure you are sharing yourself with someone – you depend on that person and they depend on you – This can be done in a loving, committed, sexual relationship if you are an adult. To share intimacy you grow together in love over time that will only grow deeper with the years. There needs to be loving give and take. Relationships cannot be healthy if there is only one person giving and the other is taking. Soul mates are not perfect but they are perfect for you as partners.
7. Giving unconditional love to someone who is depending on you – To continue to develop past the age of 35 we must create opportunities to give unconditionally. We need to take care of our children, a pet, or a plant but the key word here is to be responsible.
8. Giving back to your community – Do volunteer work. To fill this tank look for ways to give back some of the things you have received in life—time and money. But do not neglect your own family while doing this.
9. Giving back to the world – Broaden your horizons. Volunteer to help a political candidate you endorse. Run for office yourself. Get involved in a world cause to fill this tank.
10. Serving God – As we fill this last tank, we are in tune to God’s will for us. Seek out His will for your life. Surrender your will to His will to fill this tank.