I just finished reading The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, Ph.D and Ross Campbell, M.D. One of my friends from MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) suggested we read this book as a group and have a discussion group on the topics. The words she used intrigued me, she said, "They really do deserve it" (meaning our families). I borrowed the book from another friend of mine and have stayed up late to finish it in two nights (of course compulsively). I have literally read dozens of parenting books and this was by far the best one yet. There were several parts that brought tears streaming down my face. I would even go as far as to say it is life-changing, but I need more time to see if it has done that and if I will follow through. . .
This book has already brought about changes in my parenting style and made me more aware of how my actions and words affect my children. The basis of the book is that all children (and adults) have a primary love language: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Each child needs all five of these to feel loved, but they tend to favor one the most, which is what you should use to show them how much you love them. I am pretty sure Ethan's language is Gifts and Dylan's language is Quality Time, but I want to do some of the experiments to find out for sure.
The only thing that left me somewhat perplexed is that if Ethan's language is truly Gifts, how do we distinguish between Gifts given to show our love and him being just plain spoiled. We have struggled with him throwing complete tantrums if he doesn't get a certain thing that he wants, or things aren't going his way. We have frequently used taking away items as a consequence for unfavorable behavior. I'll have to do a lot of processing and praying about this one.
Another part that hit home with me was about anger. I can be patient and kind for days and then suddenly have a total angry outburst. Unfortunately, many of my rages have been directed at Ethan because he is very, VERY strong-willed. Still, having parental tantrums by flying into rages and yelling, even spanking at times, is not what I want to model, especially for young boys who will eventually be full of testosterone. What is really eye-opening is when Ethan acts the very same way toward Dylan and I witness it. It's like hearing a tape recording of myself and let me tell you, it is not fun to hear.
There will be more to come about the love languages as I have more time to learn about Ethan and Dylan's love languages, as well as Goofy Hubby's.