Welcome to a new section I’m incorporating into my blog: Book Banter. In this semi-regular (translation: when I have something to write about) series, I’m going to discuss books related to parenting. No formal reviews, nothing stuffy… just me, chatting about a book I recently read that relates to parenting (and, inadvertently, my life). Hope you like it!
This “week” (month?) we’re talking about the book The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. I casually mentioned the book over coffee with one of my girlfriends and her first response was “What’s a love language?” (Glad you weren’t the only one thinking that? 😛 ) Basically, the authors explain the different ways we understand love, stating that “Every child has a primary language of love, a way in which he or she understands a parent’s love best.” (Chapman, 9) By loving your child through their primary love language, we ensure that they know they are loved, which, in turn, helps them to “grow into a giving, loving, responsible adult.” (9) Of course, the authors also recommend loving your child through all 5 love languages (even as you focus on their primary one), which will subsequently help them to speak all 5 love languages themselves later in life (109-10).
So what are the 5 languages? Physical touch (ex. hugs & kisses); Words of Affirmation (words expressing your love for them, either spoken or written); Quality Time (spending time with them); Gifts (can be “made, found, or purchased” (86), includes gifts that are both needs and wants); and Acts of Service (doing something for them (ex. making them a special breakfast (105)), or helping them to do something (ex. study for a test (106)).
The authors advise that “With an infant, you must express love in all five languages” (111) and that even “Young children are just beginning to learn how to receive and express love in the various languages. This means that they will experiment with actions and responses that are satisfying to them” and may change their dominant love language from one month to the next (111). They also warn that as they grow, a child’s love language may change; particularly as a teenager. (112)
I can confirm the changing love language of young ‘uns…. A month ago I would have proclaimed that Bean was definitely NOT a physical touch love language kid. (Her version of “snuggling” was to lie down close together without touching.) However, this past week she’s started experimenting with that love language. Over the weekend, she offered to brush my hair (heavenly!) and then just this morning, mid-breakfast she announced “Snuggle time!” and curled up into me for a little snuggle (a real one!) in between bites of toast. I’m only too happy to oblige, but considering the only time in the past few years that she’s been snuggly is when she’s either sick or has had a bad dream, you can understand my surprise.
Back to the book: I like that the authors offer suggestions on how to express your love for your children in each of the 5 languages (conveniently organized in a section at the back of each love-language-specific chapter). They also offer advice on how to discipline with the 5 love languages, which might just have some surprising insight for you. There’s even a chapter at the end of the book dealing with the challenges posed by single-parent families. There are other books in the collection if you’re interested (one is specifically about teenagers, if you happen to have one, … and no, I don’t think threenagers count, haha.).
The bottom line for me? Since the book is geared towards parents of children 5 and older, I think that I will get a LOT more out of the book if I re-read it again in a few years. Until then, it’s given me a great overview of the 5 love languages, along with some food for thought.
Chapman, Gary, and Ross Campbell. The 5 Love Languages of Children. 1997. Northfield Publishing, Chicago, 2016.