Category: Family

Differences with Your Teenager

Do you ever get frustrated with your teenager? The teenager has a strong pull toward independence and is going through radical physical and emotional changes. They are greatly influenced by their peers. In fact, we often speak of ‘teenage culture’. That culture focuses on music, dress, language, and behavior. This has often created a great divide between teens and parents. So, at a time when the teen most needs moral and spiritual guidance, parents are often rejected. Don’t allow your differences to keep you from loving your teen. Love keeps the door open for your positive influence. Learn your teens’ love language and speak it daily. They never outgrow their need for love.

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: 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.

Pat Your Back

Physical touch is one of the fundamental languages of love. If it happens to be the primary love language of your child or your spouse it is exceedingly important that you speak it regularly. Much of the miss-behavior of children grows out of an empty love tank. The same is true of adults. Perhaps you are not a ‘toucher’. You did not grow up in a touchy-feely family. The good news is that you can learn to speak this love language. Begin by patting yourself on the back. Then do the same to your spouse or child. Put one hand on top of the other hand. Then put your hand on top of your child’s hand. Touches lead to hugs and hugs lead to kisses. Soon you will be proficient in speaking the love language of physical touch.

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.

Q&A: Cultural Connection

Q: “My boyfriend and I are engaged, though we are from very different cultures. What areas should we address before getting married?”

Gary Chapman: This is an excellent question and I wish more people were asking it. Cultures are different and the more diverse the culture the greater the potential for conflict in a marriage. I would suggest such practical things such as spending time in your respective families and observe how they “do life”, traditions, expectations, and points of difference. Also, learn about each other’s culture. Discuss these things with each other and identify the potential areas of conflict. Be honest, yet open to one another’s point of view and heritage. Please note: I’m not saying you shouldn’t get married across cultural lines, but rather you just shouldn’t do it blindly.

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.

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: Family Before Spouse?

Q: “I’m wondering about the concept of “leaving and cleaving. I’m engaged and members of my family are saying that family comes before my husband. What is your take on this?”

Gary Chapman: The scriptures are very clear that when we get married we are to leave our parents and cleave to our spouse. That doesn’t mean we desert our parents. We must certainly honor them after we get married, but our main allegiance is to our husband or to our wife. Failure to reconcile with this and to clarify this before you get married will cause problems after you get married. If you and your fiancé don’t agree on this, it would be good for you both to sit down with a counselor or pastor to help clarify this Biblical teaching of leaving and cleaving. If you don’t, it will likely raise it’s head again after you get married. Far better to deal it it and clarify it before you tie the knot, then to try to deal with the consequences afterwards.

Q&A: Different Christian Backgrounds

Q: My fiancé and I have very different ways of defining how to live as a ‘Christian’.  How can we come together on this?

Gary Chapman: When you say “different ways of defining how to live as a Christian,” it may be that one of you grew up in a home that had certain things that were considered to be Christian—if you do this and don’t do that then you were in right standing. The other may have had a different experience—raised in a different type of family or attended a fellowship that did not emphasize the dos and don’ts as much as a personally relationship with God. Therefore, I think it’s important to start by sharing your journey with each other. Marriage has to do with oneness and coming together. Talk about it. Take turns sharing your perceptions. Then, try to understand each others perspective so that you can find a meeting place.

 

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