The 5 Love Languages of Children | Book Review (and a giveaway)

I’ve always been a little skeptical of self-help books and courses. Granted, there was a time in my twenties when I was all about the self-help books but, much like Bridget Jones plunged her pile of books into the bin, so I (somewhere near my thirtieth birthday) packed all of them into a box. Yes, even “He’s just not that into you” (it may have had something to do with the fact that, when I was reading that, he was actually that into me. Haha).

 

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Anyway, I digress. Earlier this year, my kid had to do a set of worksheets that centred on figuring out her own Love Languages and those of her family . I really enjoyed the experience and it piqued my interest in the whole school of thought. Our individual quiz results that ascertained our particular love languages were pretty interesting – mostly because – as it turns out – my kid and I share the same primary love language.

That’s why I was thrilled when this book got delivered to me – The 5 Love Languages of Children. Since doing those quizzes, I’ve tried to remember my kid’s primary love language more and more when considering my parenting, and I’ve enjoyed keeping that perspective.

Penned by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, The 5 Love Languages of Children focuses on applying the principles of love languages to your parenting and raising children in accordance with their primary love languages. It also includes nifty, short tips on how to deal with particular situations, in a supportive way that aligns with your children’s love languages.

The authors also cover a more-important-than-ever topic – discipline. As a parent, I’m known for being a helicopter-strict-mom (and am unashamedly so!) but I also believe in discipline, not punishment. What’s the difference? That’s easy – discipline, to me, is an act of love that seeks to train a child in the ways of life (and, yes that does include actions being linked to consequences). It is a way to teach, not to punish. I appreciated this book for its approach on discipline, especially in light of the love languages. This line struck home for me:

“Love looks out for the interests of others, so does discipline”.

There are also sections on “Learning and the Love Languages” and a very on-point section on “Speaking the Love Languages in Single Parent Families”.

As a parenting resource, I’d recommend this book a thousand times over. I enjoyed its exploration of applying children’s love languages in a variety of situations and I’m really quite glad I got to read this!

Thanks to the lovely Cherilyn Murphy for arranging me a copy of this great book to review! You can purchase the book here

And here comes the best part – I’ve got two copies of this fantastic book to give away to my lovely readers. To enter, simply leave a comment below, telling me what your favourite childhood memory is. Winners will be chosen from a hat by my kid and I’ll put up a video announcing the winners. Please note that this competition is open only to South African residents. Closing date for this competition is 26 May 2014.

This competition is now closed. The responses I received for this competition were so heartrending. Some made me grin, some made me sob! Thank you for sharing your precious childhood memories with me! 

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The winners are:

Stacey and FabulousMommy!

I’ll be in touch shortly via email to arrange

delivery of your prize!

 

things getting me through this week.

Let’s just pretend that this week is a challenge. And I have not trained, because there is no acceptable training routine for it and no helpful survival tips except “survive it”.

So I’ve turned to a few usual sources to get me through this, head down and propelling myself towards the weekend.

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not exactly this. but hey.

The weekend – why? Usually, my weekends are work time. But this time, not. (and I’m forcing it not to be)> Because we’re doing homely, family stuff this weekend and this makes me happy. Because in the inner recesses of my brain, there’s still a girl who used to do all this stuff alone, and who hadn’t truly shared a home with someone else in a relationship manner, looking forward to a future together, for many, many years. And that girl gets excited when we sit together as a family and plan how we’re going to mix things up a little at home, change some things and recreate our little lovespace. Happiness is a new lounge, or something. I didn’t know this would happen. This is still a surprise to me.

My kid. Because she sets herself life goals and then goes on to achieve them. She ignores obstacles and just carries on, quietly determined. And then she attains her goal and modestly comes to tell me, like an afterthought. She is sometimes anxious, sometimes worries a lot. She is like me. But she has zero doubt in her abilities. She wobbles (we all do), but she has a strong heart and believes that she CAN do the things she sets her heart on. So she does. She teaches me. So much. I had no idea I’d be a mama once. This is still the most exhilarating surprise of my life.

 

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I just love this image. Had to use it.

Support. I am not the type to lean, easily. In fact, there are very few people who truly know what’s going on in my head. But I have someone I can just collapse over onto. I can lean. It takes me a long time to lean, but when I do get there, I can lean. Hard. I never knew that I would ever be able to lean. And now when I do lean, it is strong. I never knew I would be able to, one day, lean.

The things I never thought I would never have the opportunity or ability to do, I am doing right now as I type this post. That, right there, reminds me of my purpose. And hells, knowing my purpose, and living it? I did not believe, for the longest time, that I would be able to do this. This is still exciting to me. I am overwhelmed with glee over this.

Learning to say yes. I am on a mission to say yes to things. Last year, I learnt to say no to the things which drained me, which demanded my attention and refused to let me focus. And this year, I am saying yes to new things. I am saying yes to doing stuff that thrills me, inspires me and challenges me. Grateful I can say yes. I just need to teach myself to yes to the right things.

 

the embarrassing things.

On why my cringeworthy moments are worth it. This post is a personal reflection on why – all of a sudden – I am very, very grateful for them.

I have anxiety issues. These are long-stemmed little roses of my life that lead me to plan and schedule things to the letter, always edge on being twenty minutes early for everything (because if I was late, the world will fall down, apparently) and a variety of other little interesting little parts of me that make me who I am.

I am, however, not ashamed of them. People who know me and who are on my team in life know that I will check details, check again, confirm and follow up eighteen times, especially if I have to depend on them to do something (this is why I make spreadsheets of everything – Hat Tip to B :P) . This makes me sometimes annoying (Sheena can tell you this…), but also good to work with. You generally know where you stand with me, and where I’m at with something. It has, unfortunately, though, led me to lose relationships or be forced into letting go of things I did not want to let go of, because I could not lean on them, with certainty. That’s not my point here.

The thing is – as a child, I had them then too. And, very often, they made me afraid to talk. I would be incredibly afraid to ask a question in the classroom and having to do a presentation? I’d usually cry. I am a little better now that I’m 33 and have been made to do it more and more professionally. I’m not great at it but, I can do it.

My anxiety, and you’ll note I called them roses above, not thorns – there’s a reason for that – has created for me a history of potentially spirit crushing moments and a huge set of childhood events that – at the time – made me want the world to open up, swallow me whole, spit me back out again, and then throw me into the ocean. But it didn’t. So, I’ve learnt to live with the cringeworthy moments and – because I’m a parent – I get to use them as stories now.

My daughter is nervous this evening. She starts a new grade tomorrow, and is no longer a small child but a developing, interested-eyes-with-wonder person in her own right. It scares her a little because she feels that she has let go of the securities she attached to being “small” and has become aware that the world judges you. I really, really hate that. She is a sensitive soul, who is far more affected by little incidents than I’ll ever let on. She’s getting better at it though – far better than I ever was. Some of the stuff that absolutely broke my heart in 1988 still affects me to this day. She is no longer affected by something that happened last week. She is building a resilience I do not feel I had growing up. She has a self-confidence that I do not know at all. She is proud of her achievements, and does not try to hide them or blush past them, like I did and still do.

How is she doing this? Because I tell her my stories.

When she is scared about an event, or something coming up, I ask her: “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

So she’ll tell me and – without a doubt – I can refute her worry by telling her about something I went through as a child. Tonight, I told her of my most embarrassing moments (there were many!) in primary school. Including the time I peed my pants in the classroom. Five times. Across three different years. And in two different schools. Surrounded, each time, by a variety of kids who would laugh at me.

She stared at me, surprised. You see, when you’re a kid, you think your parents are superheroes. They can do no wrong, they’ve never been embarrassed, they’ve never been sad and they have no idea what you’re feeling. I like to think that moments like these remind her that I am just human. They enable me to remind her that I made it out okay, in spite of – and because of – my litany of cringeworthy moments.

As we talked it through and she giggled at the thought of me, her mama, the superhero, peeing my pants, I realised.

Somewhere in my heart the little seven year old girl who wanted to die at what happened in the classroom, who wondered so confusingly why this was happening to her, and why couldn’t she just talk like the other kids? That girl lifted her head up and smiled the biggest smile her face could. Somewhere, inside my battered but full heart, that little girl knows that moment had a purpose.

I’ve never been grateful for my litany of cringe before. All of a sudden, I am. 

Dear Daughter, on 2014.

Dear Daughter,

And so we’re leaving this year behind. This is the year where you grasped knowledge by its feet and pulled. You learnt, and expanded and tingled at the promise of the things you were reading, learning and enquiring. You tugged at knowledge strings and they relented, bringing wave upon wave of things to learn your way.

You learnt to ask why, and have a reasonable expectation of the type of answer you would accept. There’s no more fooling you with a “because I said so” or “because I don’t know”. Now you’re pushing towards answers, that fulfill your need to learn, and your need to assimilate information. You’re leaning towards understanding things on your own terms.

You’ve learnt to break down concepts into segments that you can hold in your hand. That’s something that only came to me faaaaaar later in life, and I like to think you’ve realised that nothing is unmanageable, so long as you focus.

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I’ve tried not to be a tiger mom but, sometimes, I see the merit in it. Gulp. If I had my way, darling, I’d have you still doing water play in the sand pit and examining bugs. But the world and your brain are far beyond my wants now. It’s all about you as you grow, and are excited by the opportunities it brings you.

Keep reading. You’re in a love affair with reading. Long may this love reign. Long may this mutually beneficial relationship feed you. It is mutually beneficial – the words were created to be read, and you are fulfilling their creation by reading. Through it, you’re fulfilling your own needs to enjoy and experience and love and cuddle up with a book. Keep cuddling up with those words – it will steel you more than you ever know, as you navigate life.

You’re no longer a small child. You are a soul that’s reaching out into the world, to tickle its feet and coax it into playing with you. Whilst my heart feels weak just contemplating it, I hope that I’ve given you a strong grounding, and that, as you play, you will stand up for yourself, and enjoy the experiences that life gives you. Grab those experiences, baby, and come tell me all about them. Despite what you will say at some point in your life towards me (probably), you will always have a place with me. Whatever happens, your mama has your back. And I have no fear in kicking anything that does not make you smile that smile. You know the one 😛

I’m so bouncingly proud of you. Your smile is the trampoline of my life.

Love,

Mama.

On The Very Start of Raising a Woman

Dear Daughterchild,

Last night, in the midst of a noisy storm, you cuddled up to me and fell asleep, little sleeping breaths blowing on to my neck. You’re far taller than you used to be, and your toes reach almost to my toes now too. Soon, I think, I’ll be forced into wearing platform shoes just so I can see over your head.

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This was you, once.

Where did the time go, darling? You have hobbies now, like taking photographs and writing stories (both make me grin). You have opinions and the ability to make choices, which you do, on your own.

You disagree with me sometimes, and take a moment to explain your feelings. You choose your own path on certain things, and are unafraid to tell me how you feel.

Last night, before we clambered into bed for a sweet snooze, we spoke for ages on how you felt about your life and the things you’d prefer not to have in it, and the things that make you so happy you could pop.

I realised, inbetween our little explanations of things, that I hope the lessons I’ve imparted to you (sometimes, I know, the wrong way around), stick with you. As the butterfly you are, just starting to stretch your wings, I hope I’ve given you a good flightpath to test out your wingspan.

So much of your life learning is now beyond my control. As other things take over your time, like your hobbies, friends and school, I realise I’m in that weird state of letting go…and I realise now that I’m not ready. But…that’s not important. You are.

You’re excited for a big life, an adventure and a lot of learning. You’re thrilled by the idea of things to do, people to meet and the possibilities that lead you to understand new things.

But, as you cuddled into me last night, and I wondered how the time has gone so quickly, I realised…that you could be 6 foot tall and I’d still see you as my baby. The funny little girl who once threw Smarties in the air and shouted “Mom, Smartie-rain!” You’re still the little cherub who couldn’t understand why gumboots need to be put on the correct feet, otherwise you’ll topple over.

But as I look into your eyes this morning, and you ask me where you can find the new tube of toothpaste and if I have remembered to get all the pieces together for your holiday project, and if I know when kittens open their eyes after they’re born…I realise, I’m not raising a baby anymore. Sometimes I want to yell “Go Back!” but… I’m not cuddling a toddler, or coaxing a preschooler into her sandals. I’m not even beaming over with pride on your first day of school, as you pose for photos in your too-big uniform. I have begun raising a woman.

It is the very start of raising a woman, but I am no longer raising a girlchild with pigtails and My Little Pony dreams. The very beginnings of your transformation from sweet girl into strong woman have begun.

I am at the very start of raising a woman.

Tips for surviving the school holidays

Yes, I know, late to the party because the school holidays are over like dungarees are in fashion. But, here’s five things I learnt this school holidays (which meant I did not end up like her, below):

 

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(not me. haha)

 

1. Plan playdates. Don’t make one for every day, but try for every second day. Oh, and rotate the hell out of each other’s houses. That way, you’ll only end up having to clean up a mess/overcome lunch chaos probably once or twice. Oh, and when your kids go to other people’s houses, make sure they take something with them. You wouldn’t visit a friend empty-handed, and neither should your kid.

2. Plan downtime. Yes, this means television, your kid sleeping in, colouring in, playing on the computer, reading up a storm.  This is what the holidays are for. Try and alternate a “busy day” and a “downtime day”. But, please – schedule the heck out of the holidays – this gets boredom kicked firmly in the whatsits.

3. Also, I am NOT a craft-mom. I cannot glue-stick-sew-create my way out of a discarded eggbox, but I do have a healthy stack of stuff that can be repurposed. Save it up and use it over the holidays. And yes, eggboxes can make nice flowers. Just be prepared to have them decorate your home for a while.

4. If you’re begged into going shopping, go to the bookstore. Those will be worthwhile purchases, and – almost every bookstore is clearing stock out before the year-end rush, so books are cheaper right now!

5. The scariest part of holidays, for me, is extending bedtime. Because there is no school the next day, I get the “but mom, it’s holidays” talk. So I do extend bedtime. By two hours, maximum. No more. By then, we’re all played out, snoozing and I need to start work. Oh but that beautiful silence lets me concentrate and create!

 

 

3 things.

If I only ever get to teach my child three things, they will be:

1) You are infinitely, incomparably and gigantically loved, exactly as you are. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, and no matter how you feel about it.

2) Have good friends. It will take a long time, and a number of trials (I hope they are few!) before you realise who these people truly are. I hope that journey is easy for you, and I hope that you choose wisely.

3) You do not know everything. Neither do I. Always be open to learning.

On parenting.

Someone, once, a very long time ago, called me an unfit mother. They tried REALLY hard to have me misjudged, misinterpreted and socially maligned. They failed. Badly. Heh. I (assisted by a little piece of paper) proved them very, very wrong. They were absolutely unfair in what they tried to do to my life. They did not succeed, and every single day, I remember that battle. In fact, I wrote about it once and I’ve pulled this out of the archives.

That battle ended over three years ago, but the scars of it live with me every day. Every day that I live, every day that I am a mother, and every day that I am myself, I win that battle over and over and over again. In my head, it used to be about victory. Nowadays, it’s about living life. My sense of ginormous victory over that situation is well and truly over, and now I just feel that the battle served to strengthen me. It forged me into the person and mother I am today – fiercely protective and wholly devoted. Wholly devoted, to the point of being boring, I fear, because all I truly love to talk about is my amazing kid. I’m totally okay with being that boring.

That battle had a large influence on who I am today. It created for me a true sense of motherhood. I would even go so far to say that it made me into the parent I am today.

So, yes, I may not have everything right. Maybe I am too nice about things. Maybe I favour creative expression over stoicism. Perhaps I am indulgent, and maybe I am a lot of things. Let me just say this – I’m okay with it.

Nobody has to agree with my parenting, because they’re not doing it. I am. Certain people have a right to express how they feel about it, but how I assimilate that into my life, is up to me. I don’t accept criticism from people who have no effect on my life. And I defy anyone to question my love for my kid. If you must judge me, then judge me. I’ve been judged before and I turned out just fine. What I do know, at the heart of everything, is that children need love and boundaries. And we have those in our life. Moreover, we have forged and fed those together. My kid will never apologise for being herself, of that much I can tell you. I spent way too many years of my life doing it, and she will never have to bow down to some judgement like that. So, yes, we’ll be eating ice cream at 7pm, or wearing our pyjamas backwards whilst dancing around the lounge. We’re busy creating memories that way. And, as I know all too well, when your parents are gone from you, those memories are all you have. I want my daughter to live the rest of her life with incredible ones.

Because I am so violently aware of how it feels to be judged as a parent, it saddens me no end when I hear of situations where people judge parents. Yes, there are some disgusting excuses for parents out there – just read today’s paper for some prime examples.

But, there are also parents (specifically mothers) who unfairly live their lives under the barrage of judgement. Just last night at dinner, I heard another table’s occupants doing exactly that – judging another mother. A mother who is now dead. It took all my power not to launch myself over the table and smack those people at that table in the mouth. Interestingly, I noted that their children were not the ones sitting and playing quietly. One would think that if they were so “perfect” in their parenting, their children would be little angels, right? Right…

Anyway, enough of my soapbox. A conversation spurred up these emotions in me, and that’s how it rolls.

I love my daughter, through and through. Nobody can ever tell me otherwise. That’s enough for me.

On standing up for yourself.

Dear Cameron, on standing up for yourself.

You came home today hurt. You’d fought with a friend. It had not been pleasant, and your little heart was hurting. My mild and mannered child, distraught over this unpleasant interaction.

We lay on the floor and talked it through, like we do our every day. You cried and told me how sad you were, and I held you, wishing I could make the whole world go away and play nicely.

You’re five, nearly six, yet, your tenacity and personality is already well-formed and rounded off with a large serving of independence. You’ve had much change to adjust to, and you’ve rolled with it as we’ve moved homes, changed schools, changed routines and started some things afresh. Of all the things I am about you, my love and pride know no boundaries.

Fighting with people you care about is heart-wrenching. Whilst this interaction, in the bigger picture of life, is minute and will be forgotten soon enough, to you…to you it is the world today.

My heart ached for you, in ways that both resonated and rushed to protect. I’ve been that kid, Cam. I was that kid growing up, most of the way through and for a long while after. I’ve felt that hurt and I got through it eventually. It made me stronger. It enabled me to take on life’s challenges and to laugh off the jibing of people. Thankfully, nowadays, none of them matter to me. One day, this won’t matter to you either. That I can absolutely promise you.

But, for now, I want to applaud you, my brave little girl. You told me your story, cried and we went through the steps of what one is supposed to do when a friend is mean to you. I’m satisfied that you did everything in your power to try and resolve the situation. As much as a five-year old could. We talked and we’ve taken this situation up and then…then your tenacity and ability to want to see a problem through on your own awes me…

You say:

“mama, it’s okay, i will try again tomorrow to be friends. i will try and sort it out and carry on”.

My sweet Cam. My sweet and wonderful Cam. You astound me. You astound me so much with your commitment to wanting to resolve a situation, no matter how small in life, on your own. You simply awe me, my precious girl.

I want to tell you something. Something that my mom told me when I too was little, and tackling some hurt that I had as a teenager. I quote this for you straight from my mama’s letter to me, because it lives on our fridge and I read it every day. It says:

Knocks of all kind come at you, from unexpected angles and unexpected people, at any time of your life.

Make of yourself an inner fortress, which nothing and noone can penetrate. Do this by whatever means necessary…personally carry it out. Resolve that nobody and nothing can penetrate your inner calmness…Be very sure that the knocks and stumbles that you are finding hard to deal with now in your young life are preparing you for the “maybe” harder ones in your life to come. See them as a testing ground. You will overcome them…

Now, I realise that that’s a ginormous life lesson to learn for you, at five. But, when I see how you deal with these little life-knocks, and how you’ve resolved to try to sort out the situation on your own, I am proud. In your actions and words, I see my mommy and my daddy, and baby, mama cries because they would be so proud of you. They are so, so proud of you. I promise you that. I know it like I know how your head feels against my chest. I know it like I know you.

Life’s knocks come and go, I promise. And EveGranny was a very wise lady, wasn’t she? We are very blessed to have her as our own.

My precious daughter. The other night, you came to me and said you missed EveGranny, that you think it would be nice if you could tell her all about your new school, and she could visit us at our new house. I cuddled you and reminded you how much she loved you, and how proud she was of you and your cousins. And, remember when we spoke about genetics and how everybody inherits characteristics from their mom and dad and grandparents?…

(yes, readers, Cam uses words like characteristics, awesome, right? right!)

Well, my sweet Cam, that tenacity that you have. That desire to want to see a problem through? You got that. You got that from EveGranny.

With love and mamapride that has no bounds,

Mama.