Category: Children

Influencing Teens

Did you know that 70 years ago, teenagers did not exist? That is, as a separate cultural group. Before the industrial age, teens worked on their parents’ farms until they got married. With industrialization, teens had a choice. They could be a weaver, a cobbler, or a machinist. But they still lived with their parents until they got married; usually in the late teens. In the modern world, young people have high school, college, and often graduate school before they get married. So they are with parents much longer. This is good news, because it gives greater opportunity to influence their lives for good. Remember, the quality of your marriage is your greatest means of influence. They will remember your model long after they have forgotten your words.

Q&A: Ready to Remarry?

Q: I was married for 25 years and now divorced for nine. How do I know if I’m ready to remarry?

Gary Chapman: The most common mistake people make is to go into a second marriage thinking that because they’ve fallen in love with someone else they’ve now found the right one and everything is going to be like heaven. The reality is—no matter how long you’ve been divorced—when you remarry you are entering into a whole new world because both of you are coming with a history—a history that often involves children whether young or grown. Those dynamics are very, very difficult to navigate in a remarriage. So I would say you are asking the right question. Be sure to take time to prepare yourself. It’s not a matter of how long you’ve been divorced, it’s a matter of how well you are preparing for a second marriage.

Q&A: My Child is Gay

Q: “My son has recently told us that he is gay. I’m having a very hard time dealing with it. How can I help him with this and still show love?”

Gary Chapman: Disappointment is a common emotion when a parent hears one of their children indicate that he/she is gay. Men and women are made for each other—it is God’s design. Anything other than that is outside of that primary design of God. Now I’m not going to try explain all the ins and outs of homosexuality, but what I will say is this—we love our children no matter what. Express your disappointment and/or your lack of understanding, but make it clear that you love them and that you will continue to love them no matter what. I would also encourage you to ask your child to do some serious reading and/or talk to a counselor to try to understand him/herself better while continuing to affirm your love.

Emotional Scars from Divorce

A man who has been divorced from his wife for three years recently said to me. “If I wrote a book the title would be: Divorce: The Living Hell.” Thousands of individuals can echo his sentiments. The emotional scars that come from divorce are never removed. The hurt that is indelibly printed in the minds of children will never be erased. Our whole society has been deeply infected with the “throw-away” mentality. When you are no longer excited about it, get rid of it. No wonder children are so insecure. No wonder there is so little trust in marriage. I am not suggesting that the road to reconciliation is easy, but rather that it is right and that the results are worth the effort.

A Daughter Needs Her Daddy

A few years ago, I teamed up with Dr. Ross Campbell, a psychiatrist whom I greatly admire, and wrote a book called The5 Love Languages of Children. In that book, Dr. Campbell made the point that “during the preadolescence stage, girls have a particular need for expressions of love from their fathers. At the same time, fathers often withdraw from hugging and kissing their daughters, feeling it is inappropriate at this stage.” In reality, the daughter needs the hugs and kisses of her father; and if he withdraws, she will likely seek physical touch from another male and often in an unwholesome manner. Certainly there is no place for sexual exploitation, but your daughter deeply needs your loving and affirming touches.

The Difference You Can Make For Your Child

Did you hug your child when you sent them off to school this morning? I hope so because your hug may make the difference between emotional security and insecurity throughout the day. A hug when the child returns home may determine whether your child has a quiet evening of positive mental and physical activity or makes a rambunctious effort to get your attention. Home should be a haven, the place where love is secure. Physical touch is one of love’s strongest languages. When a child is young they will sit on your lap while you read a story. As they get older you must use different types of touch: wrestling, playful hitting, bear hugs and high-fives. During the grade school years you are preparing your child for the most difficult part of childhood—adolescence. Loving touch is one of your best tools.

The Importance of Touch

In recent years, many research studies have come to the same conclusion: Babies who are held, hugged, and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact. Physical touch is one of love’s strongest voices. The importance of touching children is not a modern idea. Remember in Mark chapter 10 when the parents brought their children to Jesus and the disciples objected? The scripture says that Jesus “took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them” Why should we do less? I know that there are sexual predators who touch children wrongfully, but we should not allow their distortion to keep us from touching children in a loving and healthy way. All children need affirming touch.

Children Need To Be Touched

When is the last time you touched your child? Studies indicate that many parents touch their children only when it is necessary: when they are dressing or undressing them, putting them in the car, or carrying them to bed. It seems that many parents are unaware of how much their children need to be touched, and yet touch is one of the primary languages of love. The language of touch is not limited to hugging and kissing but includes any kind of physical contact. Even when they are busy, parents can gently touch a child on the back, arm, or shoulder. Perhaps physical touch does not come natural for you. Take the first step: pat your child on the back. Do it for seven days and then try a hug. You may be surprised at your child’s response.

Q&A: Discovering Your Teen’s Love Language

Q: “Gary, do you have a resource for teens to help them discover their love language?”

Gary Chapman: That is an important question because if you don’t know your teenager’s love language, you are not likely to speak it. First of all, observe their behavior—how do they respond to you and how do they respond to other people? Their behavior towards you and others will give you a clue towards as to what their love language is. Secondly, listen to what they complain about. If they often say comments like, “You didn’t bring me anything home from your trip?!” they are telling you that Gifts is most likely their language. Lastly, what do they request of you most often? “Can we take a walk after dinner?” often means a teenager is seeking some Quality Time.

If you do these three things, you can rather easily discover a teenager’s love language.

Q&A: Is there a 5 Love Languages for Children?

Q: At what age do you recommend that a child should read The 5 Love Languages of Children?

A: The book by that title, The 5 Love Languages of Children, is really written for the parent. It’s trying to help the parent learn the concept and apply it to the child—that is discover the love language of the child and learn to speak that language fluently. I did, however, write a book recently called A Perfect Pet for Peyton. It is  written to children—ages 4-12. It’s a storybook with a lot of color, activities, and can even be enhanced with a free  iOS app.  Children love it and want to read it over and over again.

A Perfect Pet for Peyton is a wonderful resource that helps children understand the concept that Mommy has a love language, Daddy has a love language, Brother has a love language, Sister has a love language, and in our family we are learning how to speak each others love language. Additionally, once your child understands these concepts, they will be better equipped to succeed in future relationships.

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