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This book was a real eye opener. As with most things, you may read some things and think “Oh yeah, that’s obvious.” The basic concept is that we all have different ways of communicating love and different preferences – different ways we show it and want to receive it. So, if you are a person who likes to give and receive hugs and someone is trying to show you love by giving you gifts, because that is their primary love language, you won’t necessarily value those gifts the way the giver expects and perhaps won’t feel them as love.

The authors have identified 5 love languages – the ways in which people prefer to give and receive love.

    1. Physical touch
    2. Words of affirmation
    3. Quality time
    4. Gifts
    5. Acts of service

The titles of these languages are simple but you need to explore the chapters fully to understand the breadth of their meaning.

So far, so good – you may feel like you could have guessed that about someone but the reality is the divorce courts are full of people who aren’t getting this right and much of the anti-social behaviour in young people can be addressed by learning the lessons in this book. Believe me I’ve tried it.

So back to behaviour. The authors assert that feeling loved and secure is a foundation for anyone and of course this is especially true for children and teens whose worlds are constantly changing, expanding and bringing new challenges. Once you have this foundation you are better able to cope with whatever life throws at you. Without it you may be overwhelmed, over-react and indulge in all kinds of negative behaviour. I am not one to allow myself or anyone else to evade responsibility for their actions but it is clear that if you want the best for your loved ones you will want to ensure they feel the love you want to give them.

How do we ensure our children feel secure and loved? You may think you are already doing this and you may be putting a lot of effort into it, but is it working? It can boil down to the old concept of the difference between the message sent and the message received. You may do something to show your love but if the recipient prefers to be loved in a different way you could be missing the mark. Further even when you show love in their preferred language if you admonish or punish them using the same language it will hit home harder than you can imagine and undo the positive loving messages you have been sending. For example, punishing a “hugger” by physically shunning them will cut them to the core and undo the loving hugs you may have been giving them. They may feel that your love is conditional and phoney, only available when they bend to your will.

Of course, I am only giving you a flavour of the book here; it explains the different languages, how to identify what peoples preferred languages are, including your own, and then offers ways to modify your own behaviour to ensure your loved ones feel (receive) the love you want to show them. There are plenty of cases studies and practical examples of people in situations where behavioural issues were traced to this miscommunication and things improved by adjusting the ways in which love was shown.

I’d be surprised if anyone ever regretted reading this book but I know some people will wish they had read it sooner.

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