Category: Parenting

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.

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.

The Healing Power of Apologies

In a perfect world, no one would need to apologize. But in an imperfect world apologizes are a necessity. The first step is admitting that you need to apologize. “I owe you an apology,” is a good beginning. Then, express your apology, and admit that your behavior was wrong. Ask them to forgive you. When you sincerely apologize, you will most likely receive forgiveness. When you fail to apologize you leave an emotional barrier between you and the other person. When is the last time you apologized to your spouse? Or, your child? If it has been more than a week, you probably need to say,  “I owe you an apology.” Time doesn’t heal hurts; apologies do.

I was Wrong

I remember when my son was about six years old. He accidentally knocked a glass off the table. It fell broken on the floor. I looked at him, and he said, “It did it by itself.” I smiled and said, “Let’s say that a different way: ‘I accidentally knocked the glass off the table.’” He smiled and said, “I accidentally knocked the glass off the table.” He had learned an important lesson:  accept responsibility for your behavior.

I know adults who have never learned that lesson. They are still saying, “It did it by itself.” Here’s an exercise for you: Stand in front of the mirror and say, “I was wrong.  I was wrong.  I was wrong.” Say it until it feels comfortable. Then, use it when you know that your behavior was inappropriate.

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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