Have you ever read any of the Five Love Languages books by Gary Chapman? If not, I highly recommend them. The first one I read was The Five Love Languages. I wound up giving that as a wedding gift a few times.
Then, I read The Five Love Languages of Children. At the time the I originally read it, Brianna was the only one who was old enough to really determine her love language (around 5 years old). I’ve recently been thinking about the love languages with regards to my children, now that they are each old enough to have really noticeable ways of expressing and receiving love.
If you’ve never read the book, essentially, according to Dr. Chapman, each of us has a primary and secondary method of showing love to others. The five love languages are:
- Acts of Service
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Words of Affirmation
Because this “language” is the way we express love to others, it’s also the way we perceive love. So, if we show love in one way, but our spouse or child perceives it in another, we may be allowing his or her “love tank,” as Dr. Chapman calls it, to become empty. For example, my love languages are gifts and acts of service; Brian’s are physical touch (surprise, surprise for a man, right?) and words of affirmation.
When we were dating, I used to send him little cards all the time. While he thought they were sweet, they really did nothing towards making him feel loved. Holding his hand, giving him a back rub, or telling him, specifically, how awesome I thought he was (and still do!) would have meant a lot more to him.
So, anyway, I’ve been thinking about my kids’ love languages lately. Josh’s are easy: physical touch and quality time. I’ve mentioned before that I can tell when I haven’t been spending enough time with him. I’ve also been experimenting with the idea that he may need me to hug him longer, as suggested in Jennifer Fink’s post, Hug Your Boys. My personal research has been almost comical. At first, Josh won’t react much. Then, after a minute, he’ll hug me back and say, “I love you, Mom.” I’m speaking his language.
Megan’s love languages were a little more difficult to figure out. I knew it wasn’t quality time, because she’s perfectly content to spend lots of time off on her own. I thought it might be gifts, because she’s always making us little pictures and things. I think that is her secondary language, but I finally realized what her primary language is: words of affirmation. Those little paper things she’s always making for us? Nine times out of ten, she’s written something on them and it’s usually something along the lines of, “I love everything you do for me. You are the best mom ever.”
I guess her secondary language could be acts of service, because of the “everything you do for me” remarks, but I know her primary language is words of affirmation because she lights up like a candle when you give her praise. Conversely, if I praise someone else, I’m very likely to get some version of, “What about me?” from her.
Brianna’s is a little harder to figure out and I’d love to read one of the love language books that I haven’t yet read: The Five Love Languages of Teenagers. She has always been my quality time girl, but I’m not seeing that as much these days She does still regularly ask to watch a movie with Dad, so I know it’s still there. That’s their “together time.”
I definitely think acts of service is in there somewhere. If the kids go away for the weekend and I do that deep “mom-cleaning” on their rooms — you know, the kind of cleaning that involves garbage bags and trips to Goodwill — rather than come home upset that some of her stuff might be missing, she always thanks me for making their room look nice. The other day, she offered to vacuum the entire house, out of the blue, and asked for nothing in return.
I love the insight that the Love Language books give me into my kids’ behaviors and needs. It’s nice, when I can tell that they need to have their “love tanks” filled up, to have some concrete ideas on how to best express my love for them in a way that they will easily receive it.
Have you read any of the books in the series? What are your love languages? What about your kids?