Review by ELAINE HO
THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES OF CHILDREN
By Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell
Publisher: Northfield Publishing
Parents from a generation ago had it easy, so to speak. Information on child-raising and child psychology were sparse, there were fewer expectations and less to feel guilty about.
If a parent wanted to discipline a child, they’d break out the trusty “rotan” (rattan cane).
If a parent wanted to show a child love, they put food on the table, clean clothes in their drawers and money in the bank for their university education.
Parents of today have much more on their plate, because with all the new information on child development, we should know better. The above is no longer enough to ensure your kids feel loved. Let’s not even talk about the “rotan.”
The premise of this book is eye-opening. We know that everything we do is motivated by love for our children. But, do they feel that love? Unconditionally?
They may know we love them (intellectually), but many do not feel it (emotionally). This disparity is the source of many unpleasant behaviours and the inability to foster closer relationships with our kids.
If we want a Spaniard to understand us, we must speak Spanish. If we want our kids to feel our love, we must speak their “love language.”
This book is an offshoot of Dr Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages series, and is built on both authors’ pedigree of countless seminars and bestselling self-help books on marriage and parent-child relationships. The authors are from Christian backgrounds, so while the book has strong religious influences, the learnings transcend religion and race.
They promise that by being fluent in your child’s “love language,” the unconditional love they feel from this will lead to the desirable side-effect of he/she being more open to learning. Whether it’s at school, when you’re disciplining them, or just life lessons in general, this child will be more receptive and better able to grow into the adults we hope they will be.
Different children will respond to different “love languages,” even among siblings. Luckily, there are only five we need to learn:
- Physical touch;
- Words of affirmation;
- Quality time;
- Acts of service; and
Looks simple. Wait, don’t we speak these already? And, don’t we respond well to all of them? Yes, and yes. But it seems that only one of them can truly touch your child’s heart ... or shatter it, when used negatively.
We’re shown how to identify our child’s “love language,” but because kids under the age of five are unable to verbalise clearly enough for a diagnosis, love for them must be expressed equally in all five languages. On the opposite end, we’re cautioned against letting teenagers know about the concept of “love languages,” because they could use it to manipulate you.
I loved reading this book because the “love languages” are so easy to use. Even when you’re running on empty, or just having a bad day, you can still make your child feel loved. It astounded me to see my son smile at and kiss me, right after I disciplined him for being naughty.
I’ve found myself re-reading the book a second time, armed with a highlighter pen for passages relevant to my own children.
The principles are also easily applied to adult relationships, whether it’s with your partner or your extended family. I knew what my husband’s language was, straight away. It was fun trying to figure out what my own “love language” was, but I was confused after a week of trying, because it seemed to change every day!
Although the book says each person responds best to only one language, I’m convinced that mine are a combination of Gifts and Acts of service, because I’m inordinately happy when my husband brings me a cold can of soda at the end of a rough day with the kids.
I might attend the authors’ seminars to get a proper diagnosis.