by Christie Perkins
I’m a nonfiction junkie. I love reading self help books and text books. Yep, I’m a full on geek. And I also like a light clean romance book. You know the kind, the kind where the discovery of real love is realized…not just that state of the twitterpation station of life.
So with my atypical spectrum of book likes, my friend gave me the perfect book: The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. A perfect mix of knowledge and how to discover and express real love to your kids and family. Not just to be infatuated with our fabulous (and crazy driving destination) families but how to show them that we love them.
So geek it up with me.
Families need a little more love, a little more connections with one another, and a lot more work. So, no matter your situation: divorced, separated, happily married, existing in the same room with a legalized paper that indicates your married, single, with kids… or without, take a look at what Gary and Ross have to say. I’ll get to the details of that in a minute. But, I have tried a few of these simple techniques and have found a little more cohesion in our family. I liked the results.
Because no family is exempt from attack and every family is worth saving, no matter, no what!
Family Perfection Comes 1st By Acknowledging Your Own Strengths
So my family is far from perfect. What family is? I know. You totally just pictured a family in your head, right? They are probably a shiny, happy family that’s glowing… and it’s probably snowing and their hair flowing and blowing and somehow it never gets matted down in this blizzard.
But you probably only think that they are perfect because they have some family aspect mastered that you don’t. But what you don’t realize is that they are probably looking at you saying the same thing about how you have something mastered that they don’t. I believe that every family has their strength.
Yep, even yours.
I’m sure of it. Some families are good at spending time together, or working, or playing, or talking together, or supporting one another. Some are good at prayers or having family night, or getting others over for an invite. Some families are good at noticing and acknowledging one another, or sticking to schedules, or ignoring the house and sticking to the floor because the family is more important than the house.
Each family has a strength. And I can think of of ton of those that I want to master.
But, it is often hard to see our own strengths. We only can see the strengths of others and somehow in our mind we think diminishes our own family. But it’s not true. Acknowledge your strengths not your weaknesses builds a family.
Heavenly Father put the modge podge personalities of your family together for a reason: to help one another. He knew exactly what we needed from one another. But, I think too often it is easy to only see our weaknesses.
They seem to surface more quickly than the strengths… and weaknesses are louder somehow.
So I have just one “Captain Obvious” statement when it comes to families: Acknowledge your strength and use it; discover your weakness and improve it. Work on one weakness at a time until you master it. You will be more successful that way.
Even though I want to adopt all positive family plans, I realistically can’t. I do have big eyes (but stubby little eyelashes). It’s better to take little bites.
So just choose one little thing. But be consistent. It may take a month, a year, and a lot of tears but you can do it.
Ok. So I just had to give that little insert before giving my thought on the 5 Love Languages. Families are important. No matter your situation you can do a lot for your family and I believe it starts with showing them that we love them. They need a safe haven where they feel loved. And this book was an important key to me and my family. I want to share what they taught me and how implementing just a piece of this can help.
If you’re zoning out just scroll through and choose one area you know you want to work on.
Love Language Book Report
I’m a geek so here’s my self inflicted book report… seriously, people like me need a life. (Yeah, I’m totally convincing you to keep reading with these visions of far-fetched renditions of me keep popping in your head. Oh well, I’ll get over it.)
I’m sure you’ve heard of the love languages before. So if you have, here’s a good review. I found that even though they say it is for children it can be applied to adults.
So, what I didn’t realize was that children need all five love languages spoken to them. Often as adults we tend to gravitate to one or two but the children need all five. That simple fact changed a lot for me. I was lacking in many departments.
Also, if you notice that a child responds to one love language better, don’t assume that he will always need just that one love language… they can change.
So here’s a quick-ish overview of the 5 love languages. I have a lot more I want to be doing- thank you wish list. I hope you feel just as inspired as I did by these 5 areas. If not, read the book because that’s what worked for me.
Physical Touch: According to the book, “Physical touch is one of love’s strongest voices. It shouts, ‘I love you!'” If a child doesn’t want to be touched you need to honor their feelings. Some people just don’t hug. However, there are other ways around it. Instead of hugging them you can tap their knee or give them a knuckle pound. There are other ways to squeeze in the physical touch without hugging.
One night after family prayer we were trying to figure out how we be a little more unified as a family. My five year old popped up “just hug and say I love you.” He was spot on. We didn’t do the simple thing of hugging each other very often (yep… spilling out my weaknesses here) until he suggested that we do that. So for the last year after family prayer we do a hug and an ‘I love you’. I’ve been surprised how this little thing has brought a little more love into our home.
However, I have a child who doesn’t like hugging. He gets a knuckle pound, or a doggie pile, or a shoulder tap. The book also suggests playing contact sports with children like this (basketball, football, soccer, etc.).
The book recommends setting a goal to touch your child once a day and work your way up to several touches (hugs, taps, high fives, etc) a day. Very simple, very effective.
Words of Affirmation: “Words of affection and endearment, words of praise and encouragement, words that give positive guidance all say, ‘I care about you’… they nurture the child’s inner sense of self worth and security.” This was very well said in the book.
These are more than just words and it’s more than saying “I love you.” It includes tone of voice and to truly see the good in them. Watch them do something good and tell them. Sometimes we just think how great they are or sometimes we aren’t looking close enough. Find the good that they do and let them know. Build up their self esteem by seeing and acknowledging the good they do, even if it is incredibly small.
Tell them you love them out of the blue. Don’t do it at the times that you are “supposed to” (at bed time, or as they head out to school, or whenever that is for you). Encourage your children in their dreams to become something. Tell them how you think they will be and why.
Be quick to apologize for critical or harsh remarks. Positive communication is important to a child or adult to feel love for one another.
Quality Time: There were several things I really loved about this section. Use positive eye contact, storytelling, mealtimes, overnight trips with one child, do work projects together. D
Don’t just tell them what to do- work alongside them. If you can’t get your child to talk to you, talk about something they like talking about (baseball, reading, golf, lizards, whatever) and eventually and naturally it can lead to discussing other areas that need to be talked about. Time is an important thing that tells your child you love them. Give up your self appointed priorities and make them your priority.
I know parents who are awesome at date nights with their children. This is something I want to do better: date nights with the kiddos. Make sure you give every child some of your quality time. It may take a little more work because you may not have a lot in common but you won’t regret even your smallest efforts.
I love how the book suggests that it’s important to prepare yourself before spending quality time with your child. And sometimes that means you need to unwind first- take a few minutes and relax then hit it hard and enjoy the one you are with.
Gifts: I know people who are very good at this. I’ve been impressed with their thoughtful gifts of love. After reading this section I was excited and inspired to go and buy just a simple little “gift” for each of my children. It’s not something I do very often, except for special occasions. It will be today’s excursion and I can’t wait.
I really like how the book talks about how you should give the gift. “The English word gift comes from the Greek word charis, which means “grace, or an undeserved gift.” It basically explains that gifts as tokens of love shouldn’t be given as payment but rather as a meaningful moment when you think of someone. No special occasion or strings to buy love are attached. It is simply meant to be used to say hey, I’m thinking of you.
There is caution mentioned in this section as gift giving can become a substitute for spending time or being personally involved in their loved ones. So, it can become a challenge to use this act sincerely.
But it can be done.
However meaningful gifts need not be monetarily based. It suggests that gifts can come as wildflowers or special rocks or a special treat. Consider something they have a special interest in and the gift will be meaningful.
Acts of Service: In this section it talks about how service is a pretty typical thing that parents do for their children or spouses. But what I really liked was the emphasis on how we offered that service. Here is what the book had to say:
“Because service is so daily, even the best parents need to stop for an attitude check now and then, to be sure that their acts of service are communicating love.”
Yeah, it’s not really a service if you’re grumbling about it (been there, done that). The how is way more important than the what.
Some of the best acts of service are helping your children or family members with what they cannot do for themselves. Yes, it is easier to sometimes to just do it but allowing them to work alongside a cheerful you will be an act of love that they will not forget. Your attitude communicates love.
Love, love, love this, and it can be so easily forgotten that attitude is an act of love.
A few suggestions for acts of love are to make a list of things your child/(spouse) likes to do and do it with them when they least expect it. Don’t tell your child to do something, join them and make it fun. Work together with your child on a project. There are countless ways to show love by what you do with your children.
Love A Little More
I believe families are under attack. It’s time to fight back with love. It’s the magic potion and we all have a little extra love we can share.
Join with me. Today is the day we are going to save our families by simply showing them that we love them, even if (especially if) they are driving us crazy.
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