This book describes 5 categories that expressions of love fall into, and calls each of them a “love language”. The authors state that each of us have a “primary love language”, which means we feel most loved when others communicate their love for us in expressions from a specific category.
The authors state that a primary language will probably not emerge before the age of 5. They stress that , both before and after a primary language emerges, it is important to “speak” all 5 languages to those we love, but that it can be very useful to know what is most meaningful to each of our children, so we can be intentional about making sure they always feel loved. The authors spend a lot of time on the importance in a child’s life of feeling loved. (Note the difference between “being” loved and “feeling” loved.)
There are sections on discipline, learning, and anger, and how they relate to whether or not a child feels loved, and to the love languages. I don’t think I entirely agreed with all of the authors’ parenting advice, but they didn’t get deep enough into it for me to feel the need to seriously evaluate it. I did think the part on anger was helpful, though, as I have 4 and 3 year old boys who are experimenting with different ways to express themselves; anger being a recent favorite.
Although never explicitly stated, I think the book serves as a great reminder to make sure I’m spending time getting to know who my children are, instead of relating to them the way I want to be related to (or would have wanted to be related to at their age). I don’t know how common this is among parents, but this is something I have really struggled with.
The book contains many examples of how to express love to others, as well as encouragement to recognize which ones don’t come naturally to us, so we can make sure we don’t neglect them. It also helps us to see how others may have been, or may be, loving us in ways we weren’t, or aren’t, acknowledging.
Although it’s been a while since I read Gary Chapman’s original book, The 5 Love Languages, I’m not sure this book had much beyond what was included in the original, except for a few insights into children’s anger. If you haven’t read either book, I would recommend reading the original love languages book. Its application to children is clear.
Overall, I think the love languages concept is very valuable.