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The Love Lab Experiment

by Julienna Viegas-Haws

“Wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike”  Moroni 8:17

After listening to “The Five Love languages of Children” by Gary Chapman I thought: “Thank goodness my kids are still young enough and not too damaged yet by my semi-bad parenting. Of course there is sarcasm in this statement, I do think that I am a better mother than most but not as good as some–that is how I view myself generally too “better than most not as good as some” it boosts my self- esteem.

Reading this book was such an eye and mind opener for me. Not that I had never come across the concepts talked about in the book but the way the author explains and structures these concepts is the clearest I have seen so far. For those reading this article who are not familiar with the “Five Love Languages” concept: Basically, they are five major “love languages” and we all respond to at least one more than the others and that is our major love language.

Here is a summary of the 5 love languages and their brief explanation (taken from the 5 Love Languages Website):

Words of affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

Quality Time

In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful

Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

Physical Touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

After reading these, you should know which one is your “primary” love language. If you are not sure you can always take this TEST and find out.

One who reads this book can never be the same parent again. Of course it takes time to master all the good parenting principles taught but it is never too late to start bettering ourselves as parents.

After listening to the book I decided that I would follow the counsel the author makes at the end to make a short list of requirements to be a better parent. So here is my list (pretty much the same as the author):

1. Keep my children and husband emotional tanks full by speaking the five love languages with them. I also make sure to make my children laugh everyday and tell them that I love them every day, several times a day. My kids love to know and hear that they are the “favorite” child. So I tell my oldest son “You are my favorite big boy”; I tell my only daughter: “You are my favorite daughter” and I tell my youngest boy: “You are my favorite little boy.” And in the end each one is my favorite.

2. Use the most positive ways I can to control my children’s behavior. I very seldom physically discipline my children but they’ll tell you that occasionally they get their ear flicked to get their attention if I have to repeat something too many times and they can’t settle down… I’m working on that… They do spend time in the corner to “think about” better ways to behave when they go out of line…

3. Lovingly discipline my children (ask myself what does this child need and then go about it logically): It’s good to step back and think deeper (at the moment not later) about why the child is acting this way. Not always easy to apply when you are in a hurry…

4. Do my best to manage my own anger appropriately and not dump it on my children. Be pleasant but firm: This is very important because how many times as parents do we over or under-discipline a child according to how we feel at that particular moment? Being objective and consistent is difficult but crucial.

5. Do my best to train my children to manage their anger maturely: It definitely takes being able to manage your own anger before properly teaching a child how to manage theirs.

So this is what I call the “Love Lab Experiment” that I am testing in my home and it  is pretty much a life time experiment. I feel blessed to have a husband who agrees with the experiment. He was actually the one who introduced me to the 5 Love Languages concept. We have now practiced this for about a week or so and the results are truly amazing. Not that we were unloving parents before but there is a huge difference when we speak the love language that speaks loudest to the particular child. Of course all 5 love languages should be used with each member of the family but amazing behavioral changes happen when we know which of the love languages is the most effective for each child.

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