Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Five Love Languages of Parenting

The first time I heard about "Love Languages," I was still single. It did magic in my relationship with my girlfriend (now my wife). I learned in due course that the same languages are used in parenting.
The Filipino Family. Photo from the collection of "dantehipolito" at Flickr ...
The Filipino Family. Photo from the collection of "dantehipolito" at Flickr ...

The Five Love Languages was a book written by Gary Chapman. It is available in National Bookstore, Power Books or Fully Booked. What a gift to people serious about parenting!
The Five Fuel Tanks

The concept is simple. Think of each person as a car having five fuel tanks. Only one or two of these tanks really fire up the car's engine. The rest just tickles it.
Now, pay close attention. If you fill the wrong tank, that car's dead. It doesn't matter how you overfill the wrong tank, you're still not filling the right fuel tank. The car will still be dead. Period.

Doesn't this happen in parenting relationships? or in any relationship for that matter?

The five fuel tanks correspond to our five "love tanks." (Those familiar with Stephen Covey would remember his term "emotional bank account." This thing works almost along the same line).

The Five Love Tanks

The love tanks of a person, says Gary Chapman, are as follows:
  1. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION - Your child feels loved when he/she hears verbal expression of such love or appreciation.
  2. RECEIVING GIFTS - Your child feels loved when he/she receives something material, big or small.
  3. PHYSICAL TOUCH - Your child feels loved when you touch him/her (hug, tap, caress, etc.)
  4. QUALITY TIME - Your child feels loved when you spend spend time with him/her (stroll, watch movie, etc.)
  5. ACTS OF SERVICE - Your child feels loved when you serve him/her with anything (food, milk, carry him/her, etc.)

Check out your own love language by visiting Gary Chapman's 30-second assessment.

Speak Love Through Our Child's Love Language

By default, we express love through our own love language. Then we expect our child to love us in return through that same route.

BUT ... it doesn't work that way.

What works in parenting is, we communicate love through our child's love language, not ours. Later in life, we then can guide our children to communicate love back to us through our love language.

My wife and I know that's our son's love language is Acts of Service because of how he expresses affection.

When we leave at night to attend community gatherings, he always tells us to bring water and remind us to ask for food if we get hungry. At one time, he placed some pastries in a box and handed the box to us as our "baon." That was his way of saying, "I LOVE YOU."

My own love language is Physical Touch.

No matter how tightly I hug my son, what matters most to him is when I do something for him: unpeel a banana for him, carry him when he's not feeling well, hand him a glass of water, etc. I unpeeled a banana for him this morning, and he felt really good.

My hug was a dud.

Get the picture?

Had I not known about love languages, I would have hurt my son by appearing to be indifferent. Worse, I see fathers who berate their sons for being "maarte" or something. Such wounds can last a lifetime.

Now that we know about the five love languages of parenting, let's make full use of it. Make the most of whatever time you've got at home by expressing love through the love language that your loved ones understand.

To me, that is the ultimate parenting skill that parents, especially fathers, should master.

May your son model on you rightly.


1 comment:

  1. this is a good read. my first time to learn about this and will start to read the languages of each of my children. thanks!


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