Oct 2, 2013

Learn Your Child's Love Languages

A few weeks ago I posted about parenting transitions -- those times when we find that the things that have worked for us in relating to and helping our children just don't seem to have the same effect.  I shared a list of books I've read or am currently reading to help me through such a time.

Something I have done that has helped me understand my oldest (and most difficult) child is to find out his love language.  Not sure what that means?  Quick explanation:

The concept comes from the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  My husband and I read were required to read this book as part of our pre-marital counseling, and the concepts have really stuck with me.  The premise is that not everyone receives or feels love in the same ways.  For example, I really feel loved when my husband helps me with the things I need to do -- laundry, cooking, ferrying children around, taking care of the car.  Chapman calls these acts of service.  However, my husband feels loved in different ways --when I give him thoughtful gifts, or with physical contact (bow chicka bow bow!).

The same idea is true for our children. Chapman outlines five different love languages.  They are:

* Words of Affirmation
* Acts of Service 
* Receiving Gifts
* Quality Time
* Physical Touch

With the help of a handy and fun online tool, you and your children (and your spouse!) can find out each other's love languages and then set about loving each other better!  

With my fifteen-year-old, I had him take the survey but not tell me the results.  Then I took the same survey and tried to answer as I predicted he would answer.  Guess what? Turns out I know him pretty well!  His top love language is Quality Time, and second is Receiving Gifts.  It was so helpful for me to read this and then to think about ways in which my husband and I can really show him that we love him so that he FEELS it!  I think it also spoke to my son that I wanted to take the time to know more about him.  (As an aside, I have also discovered a sixth love language that applies to this same son, and it is called Foods That Are Delicious and In Large Quantities.  I'm trying to be more intentional in my baking and cooking, as I think this will speak to others in my family, as well!)

I think this Love Language survey is a really useful tool for families.  Last week I told our high school counselor about it, and she said she planned to use it with her students, to help them understand themselves and their own parents and siblings.  

If you want to try out the tool, go here.  It's free and the website has lots of other good information that you may find helpful.  Have fun with it!


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