Do You Know Your Teen's Love Language?

One of the reasons that I pursued a career as a therapist was my desire to help strengthen others' relationships. I love to work with couples and families. Although the majority of the clients I see are teens, one common thread many of the teens have is a lack of feeling loved and accepted by their family. Many times this comes as a shock to their parents because the parents truly do love and care for their teen. So why the discrepancy between the two? One resource that I frequently share with parents is the book by Gary Chapman titled, The 5 Love Languages. Chapman's initial book was meant for married couples, but he has expanded his collection to include love languages for children and teens. The books are also available translated into Spanish.

Chapman's theory is that everyone has a "love language". Much in the same way that I could not communicate love to my child by speaking Spanish if they only understand English, I have to speak my child's love language in order to effectively communicate my love for them. For some, this may seem like common sense. However, I have seen this revolutionize relationships so I believe it is worth sharing.

The 5 love languages he includes are:

  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service

Many of us default to the love language that we most prefer and understand, and the one which is easiest for us to perform. Quality time can be anything from watching a football game together to enjoying a hike together. Physical touch can include high fives and hugs with your children or cuddling and sexual intimacy with your spouse. Words of affirmation are all those sweet compliments that we love to hear, "You look nice today," or, "Your new haircut looks great.", or "Great job on your math test!" Gifts do not have to be expensive or extravagant. They can include flowers picked from outside or a surprise ice cream cone. Acts of service are when you go out of your way to do something nice for another. Maybe you make a favorite meal for your child or take your spouse's car to the car wash.

This may sound so easy; too easy. But you would be surprised at how bad we can be at executing this. Once you know what love language your child or spouse speaks, you can "love" them in the way that they hear and understand you. You can go to www.5lovelangues.com and take a short quiz to determine which of the five you or your loved ones favors most. The website also includes more details in regard to each of the love languages. Many of us enjoy elements from each of the five, but we have one or two that we gravitate to most. I would also recommend reading Chapman's book. It is readily accessible at most book stores as well as online and in most libraries. I have seen it be a great resource in marriages and families.

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