Author: Gary Chapman
Genre: Parenting, Non-Fiction
Publisher: Northfield Publishing
Publication Date: April 2000
First Line: "I think it's safe to say that the task of parenting teenagers today is more perplexing than it has been in any previous generation."
Book Description from GoodReads: Socially, mentally, and spiritually, teenagers face a variety of pressures and stresses each day. Despite these peer pressures; it is still parents who can influence teens the most. Get equipped to be a better parent as The Five Love Languages of Teenagers explores the world in which teenagers live, explains the developmental changes, and give tools to help you identify and appropriately communicate in your teen's love language.
Get practical tips on loving your teen effectively and explore key issues in your teen's life including anger and independence. Finally, learn how to set boundaries that are enforced with discipline and consequences, and discover useful ways for the difficult task of loving when your teen fails. Get ready to discover how the principles of the five love languages can really work in the lives of your teens and family. Over 400,000 copies sold!
My Review: As you can see from my reading history on GoodReads or here on the blog I'm not a big non-fiction reader so it should come as no shock that I didn't happen upon this book by myself. I learned of it from a friend of mine who had read another book in the series and she had quite positive reviews of it. I had never heard of or read any of Chapman's previous "Love Languages" books but the premise intrigued me.
As many of you know I have one teen and two tweens at home. Let's just say that the household hormones runneth over. Over the past couple of years as Boy 1 entered teendom I've noticed differences in how we interact with each other and they're not always as positive as I would like. So I was eager to see if this book could give me a clearer view of what being a teen in 2013 is like for my son.
Overall, I enjoyed this light read, learned a little and was reminded about a lot of parenting tools that I already had in my parenting arsenal. It reminded me of what it's like to be a teen -- how they feel, think etc and helped me to put some of my feelings/reactions into perspective (like not to feel hurt or put out when my teen wants/needs time to himself and doesn't necessarily want to hang with dear old mom). Deep down I knew that but a little reminder was needed.
The notion of Chapman's five love languages is an interesting concept. As I read the book I started to look at my kids differently. Each of my kids have different 'love languages' so I tried, over the past few weeks, to figure out how to reach each them with their unique love languages. Boy 1 is not one for hugs (never has been). To reach him I had to stop using so much Physical Love (one of my main love languages) -- hugs, hair ruffling, kisses on the cheek -- and start using Words of Affirmation to get through to him. He responded to me better and you know what? He's actually become more OK with my occasional hugs. Who knew, right?
Now Boy 2 is a different ball of wax all together. Boy 2 truly speaks the love language of Physical Touch with his love of snuggling, hugging 'just cuz' and how he likes to sit close to Brad and I even while just watching TV. It's always been easy for Boy 2 and I to show love because we kind of come from the same love language page, so to speak.
Missy Moo's love language is definitely Quality Time. She adores having Brad or I to herself for some one-on-one time. Three different kids, three different ways to show them that I love them. So, by not showing each of my kids love using their own love language I may not have been imparting my love clearly to them. That was an 'a-ha' moment for me. Ultimately, by focusing on what my kids need/want from me I do feel that we have had a much calmer household over the past few weeks.
Throughout the book Chapman clearly describes the mindset of teens, how they may be feeling and what they need in order to feel loved during a very emotional and stressful age. He uses a fairly strong Christian base to his teachings with several Biblical/Christian references being made throughout the book. A couple of times it almost took on a preachy vibe but overall I don't think non-Christians will mind the references.
Is this the most concise parenting book I’ve read? No. I did find the book overly long for the amount of information that was provided and feel it could have been cut down quite a bit without losing the information given. And while there is good information provided, many of the parenting techniques aren't anything new but can be used to remind parents of things that they knew all along but needed a refresher in.
One of the 'refreshers' that I needed was quite simple but made me do a mental forehead smack when I read it.
You can't parent a teen the same way you parented them when they were a child.
The rules change. The boy who did as he was told as a child is now arguing and pushing boundaries at every turn because he wants to become his own person. Pushing away from Mom and Dad is what's supposed to happen as teens learn to 'go it alone' more and more without Mom and Dad hovering over them to ensure that nothing bad happens. That said, rules and boundaries are just as important now as they were when he was younger.
Rules, consequences and boundaries must be set in advance and be clear and consistent so everyone knows what's expected and what will happen if boundaries are crossed. This involves a lot of communication and respect all around. I liked the fact that this book doesn't sugar coat things and encourages parents to allow their kids to feel the consequences of their actions. Mom and Dad don't need to ride in on a white horse to save the day if Junior's decision ends badly. The teens, after making their own decisions, have to face the consequences, good or bad, just as they will when they're adults.
I take away from this book a few new tidbits of parenting wisdom to make my parenting arsenal that much stronger. Encouraging independence is something that Brad and I have always done with our kids but as Boy 1 begins to push farther than my comfort zone is comfortable with I can look back at this book and realize that it's OK for me to let go of the reigns (just a little). Allow him to stumble, make decisions (even when I don't agree) and begin to pull away from Brad and I to become his own person. Hard to do but oh so necessary because in the end creating independent, self-sufficient, caring and compassionate adults who know they are loved is the end result of parenting.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars