Book Review: The 5 Love Languages of Children

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I’m no stranger to reading parenting books; I’ve always said, why not do research on the most important job of your life?  These topics may not be your typical beach read, but I think it’s helpful for one purpose in particular that I’ve been trying to be more mindful of:  mindfulness.  Ha!  But seriously, I have been working towards changing my perspective to living a more mindful life, a more present life, a more intentional life.  Two books I’ve read recently were helpful to me on my journey: Loving My Actual Lifeand Hands Free Mama.  I have blogged about them, here and here.  I think living intentionally is one of those things that you may sort of already do, but maybe not to the fullest.  I think of it as being a painter that doesn’t have access to the full color spectrum.  Now, even though I blog about this stuff, I’m still very early on in my journey.  I still find myself getting sucked into simply going through the motions of life; in the most worrisome sense, being physically near my children but not being overly present.  Realistically, of course, you can’t behave like the preschool teacher of the year all day (and night!) long (or at least I know I can’t!), but as I reflect, I know I could do better.  Old bad habits always seem to creep in.  I guess that’s why I’m drawn to reading through some of these books, because it gives me some research-based concepts and strategies in being a better parent; and, flat out, some of it just reminds me of the “stuff I already know,” but maybe I needed another kick in the butt.

In Loving My Actual Life, the author referenced The 5 Love Languages of Children.  I’ve heard of The 5 Love Languages, but never read it.  The concept of children having 1 of 5 love languages really interested me, because I noticed distinct personalities in my three children.  I think parenting my children is a lot like conducting learning in a classroom; you’re trying to keep everyone engaged in their learning, regardless of their learning styles and abilities.  I see in my three children different types of love languages; that is, the best way they can feel loved by you.

What if your child’s love language isn’t your love language?  Well, like everything else about parenting, you suck it up and do what is best.  Tons of practical advice is given in this book about how (i.e. what behaviors you need to exhibit) to show love via your child’s favored love language.  I can think of parents that have the tough exterior, that wouldn’t give this love language stuff the time of day- that’s really too bad.  Why not try it out for yourself?  Think about your child’s love language, and ask yourself if you believe you are truly meeting it, or if you could do a few extra actions to make sure he/she truly feels your love?

How important is it, really, to be fully addressing your child’s love language?  According to Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, your child will struggle with discipline, learning, and reaching maturity.  They won’t be able to use the full spectrum of colors, going back to the painter image.  On page 129, the authors write,

“Clearly it is crucial that you love your child unconditionally.  You can do this much more effectively if you know and speak all the love languages.  Every child needs this unconditional love to keep his or her emotional love tank full.  Then you will be able to discipline with the best possible results.  First things first, fellow parents.  Practice unconditional love; then discipline.”

So, speaking your child’s primary love language, as well as the other love languages, can help your child not only feel loved, but also be more ready to be disciplined. Which, as the authors explain in the book, is a form of love.  We all know how important discipline is, and what a beast it is to dole out. Also, as the authors also explain (in the second half of the book especially), your own fluency in the love languages will help your child with all of his/her relationships later in life (do you struggle with some of the love languages?  The authors suggest maybe your parents didn’t speak yours well), and even with learning.  This is not shocking, of course, that children who feel loved will do better in school, but it was helpful to read that by being fluent in the love languages, one can ensure their child truly feels their love, enabling success in other areas of life. And isn’t that what parenting is all about, isn’t that our goal?

Book Review So what are these foolish love languages anyway?! Well, the book lists five: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. Just by looking at the list, you may know right away which love language your child/ren primarily speak, or which ones are definite “no’s.” You might be thinking that this is all you need to know, but I urge you to open this book and read about them all!  You might be surprised at what you learn and discover about your children, and yourself!

One thing to note that I have noticed in this book is that it is reminding you that you don’t have to rely on naturally instincts as a parent; on the contrary, you may be lacking a natural ability to show your child your love through their own love language, through no fault of your own (or at the least unintentionally.)  I know, I know, all his inward touchy feely talk is just a little uncomfortable.  But, I’m telling you, the stuff they talk about in this book helped me gain a new perspective in how I can share my love with my kids, and all that that will do for them.  I think reading this book is beneficial, even if you think you know your child’s love language, because you may find ways to improve how you speak your child’s love language. The final section in each chapter focused on a particular love language is a long list of easy things you can do to accommodate ways to speak your child’s love language. So, I think this book is a good balance of theory and practice; the why and the how. This book is a tool to use to guide parents to a more “intentional” parenting- that “mindfulness” I mentioned.

My most challenging child is- you guessed it- my middle one. I like to think she would do well as an only child 🙂 .  I read this book with her in mind- which love language is she?  She seems so needy, which is her primary?  Two pages into the “quality time” chapter, I knew this was absolutely her.  Each love language is given a dedicated chapter, and there is a chapter later in the book that specifically helps parents figure out which love language your child primarily speaks, if you couldn’t figure it out just by reading each love-language chapter.

Of all the love languages, the acts of service chapter, I went in wondering what they meant. Volunteering together??  I was glad to have read it. Keeping in mind that all kids have multiple love languages, I don’t think any of mine have acts of service as their primary, but it was a good exercise for me as a parent to consider what this love language was and how I was handling it. This one is all about helping your kids- so for example, one side of spectrum is never teaching them to cook because you always do it for them, and the other extreme is they have to figure everything out for themselves because you teach them via not being involved. Balance of course is the best way, but where am I good with that and where am I not?  Reminds me how we’ve been working on chores/allowances with the girls, and how I should’ve done that sooner. It is hard to let them help when you know you can do it faster and more thoroughly!  I guess that’s the Italian in me coming out, haha!

I think reading this book was very timely for me, having recently come off Loving My Actual Life.  That book is really mom-based, how can I love my life, get stimulation for me. This book is how can I give to my children what they need. I really struggle with everybody getting enough, with their love bank being full.  Part of it, I think, is that locally in time, the tallest Tallman has been working like a fiend on various worky projects. That should be winding down soon, so I think we need to coordinate ourselves so everybody can get enough of what they need, parents and kids. Do you guys feel that, too? I feel like our family life rides on waves sometimes, sometimes we’re more harmonious than at other times. Everything’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but DH’s work(s) schedule has been demanding, so I think we are all ready for things to simmer down a bit, which luckily is right around the corner 🙂

Anyway, I enjoyed this read, and I do recommend. I think, like many parenting books (and teaching books), a lot of it is stuff you already know, but I think there is plenty that this book offers. The concept of love languages, in itself, was new to me, and all the explanations, meanings, and implications of proper (and improper) usage of the love languages offered me a new perspective. I am taking away new ideas on how I can better show my love to my children, and this book has helped me on my journey towards a more mindful way of living. Drrrrrr.


**Affiliate Disclosure:  this post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link.  Just trying to support my blogging habit! :-P**

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