Speaking of love

I have recently been reading through Gary Chapman’s ‘The Five Love Languages of Children‘. I had read his earlier book on love languages, so was looking forward to this one. Although I’m not finished reading it yet, I wanted to share some things I have learned and some thoughts it has sparked.

The overriding principle behind the book is that every person – children included – feel love in one of five primary ways (referred to as ‘languages’): physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts and acts of service. Dr Chapman states that:

“Your children can receive love in all of the languages. Still, most children have a primary love language, one that speaks to them more loudly than the others. When you want to effectively meet your children’s need for love, it is crucial to discover their primary love language.”

A kiss from Princess ūüôā

I think this is a true concept. When I stop to think about it, I can see in my kids some very definite ways in which they express and cry out for love. My Princess thrives on touch and words – she loves to give and receive kisses, hugs and strokes, and is always saying, “Mommy – I love you!” out of the blue. My Prince desires quality time more than anything. There’s nothing he loves more than having me or Daddy join in with his games.

If you have children, take a moment to think about what their primary love language might be. It is not always obvious, especially if they are quite young. One of the clues to look out for is ways that they express love. Another thing you can do is ask them, “Do you know I love you? Why?” It may be that you don’t come up with one specific language – that’s fine! But you also might find that when you really think about it, there is one type of expression which resonates with your child more than others. If this is the case, I recommend taking the time to make sure you are showing your child love in this specific way every day.

One of the things about figuring out your child’s love language is that once you identify it, you need to start acting on that information! Some are easier to give than others. For me, it’s much easier to give a hug and say I love you, than to stop what I am doing to play Octonauts – but it is just as important. For others, playing imaginary games may be easy as pie, but if your child needs words of affirmation then this is what you must give primarily. Hard as it may be, it’s worth the effort.

Hilarity trying to get a ‘nice’ smile at our Mother’s day lunch!

About a month ago I noticed that we were having to tell Prince off more than usual. Knowing his need for quality time I decided that it would be a good idea for my husband or I to take him out somewhere alone, to build him up and encourage him. The timing coincided with Mother’s day, so Prince and I went out for a cheap McD’s lunch together. I spent the time really focussing on him – listening to the things he wanted to talk about, and laughing at his jokes. I also took the opportunity to ask him some questions about my parenting, how he felt about things, and asked for his perspective on how I could improve as a Mommy. Although we were only alone for about 45 mins, that less-than-an-hour-cheap-and-greasy lunch made the world of difference to his behaviour. He seemed to have got exactly what he needed. In Dr Chapman’s words, his ‘love-tank’ was filled.

The love language concept is not a guaranteed fix all solution for behaviour problems. However, it is well documented that a lot of negative behaviours occurs as a cry out for love, and so it follows that this can be solved by ensuring your child feels truly loved.

Another theme that has stood out to me in this book is that we need to be willing to sacrifice in order to show our children love in a way they can understand loud and clear. We need to be able to step out of our own comfort zone; we need to make time for our kids in our busy schedules; we need to put effort and thought into the way we express our love. I really like what Gary Chapman says here:

Don’t be a victim of the urgent. In the long run, much of what seems so pressing right now won’t even matter. What you do with your children will matter forever.

It’s not about showing love in ways which are convenient, quick, easy, or come naturally to us. It’s about caring enough to reach out to our kids, and make the effort to say ‘I love you’ in their own language.

There are many important things to do in life, but few are more important than raising our children to know that they are loved unconditionally Рboth by us and, ultimately, by God.


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