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The Key To Your Child’s Heart

October 17, 2019

The Key To Your Child’s Heart

Gary Smalley was one of my favorite teachers and writers. Actually, just one of my favorite people. I got to be around him and interact with him a few times and always felt he believed in me more than I believed in myself. I think he was this way with most people he connected with. I was sad when I learned that he had gone home to be with Christ, but thankful that he was finally released from the many physical things that had been holding him back and making his life very difficult for several years. His gain was heaven. How could I be sad for that? But His gain was our loss.

He wrote a book many years ago entitled The Key to Your Child’s Heart. It was a short book, but it carried a very powerful message. On a thumbnail, his message was that the key to your child’s heart is them hearing that you love them in language they understand. Simple, right? Simple, but not easy. If you’ve been trying to tell your kid that you love them, but not connecting, the simple-but-not-easy advice I’ll offer here (by the way, none of this is original with me) could breathe new life into your relationship with them, and give them the one thing they most need. I’ll tell you the one thing they most need later.

Here’s what usually happens: a parent tells their kid(s) that they love them in terms that they (the parent) understand.  and then when the kid doesn’t respond, the parent gest frustrated because they’re not responding. 

You see the problem with this immediately.  It doesn’t work!  Your kid isn’t you.  You get what you’re saying.  Completely and instantaneously.  You’re speaking your language.  So you expect your kid to get it.  But what if your kid doesn’t speak your language?  You get your meaning effortlessly, but what if your kid just doesn’t connect with it, even if they try to (which they probably won’t do)?

When this happens, most people eventually react out of their frustration.  They’ll say it again, usually just like they said it the first time.  Maybe the kid was distracted and just didn’t hear you.  So you give it another shot.  When the kid still doesn’t get it, you repeat it again, this time with a little more intensity.  Still no connection.  So you move into full “you’ll hear me and you’ll understand” mode.  What started out as an attempt to say “I love you,” can become a really ugly memory for both you and your kid(s) of you saying, “I love you, you idiot!  Why aren’t you getting this?!”

I don’t have any pixie dust to toss on this, so I can’t just make the problem go away.  But I have a suggestion that has helped millions of parents begin getting this life-changing message of love across to their kids.  It’s a message that gives a kid the one thing he or she most needs.

A very wise man named Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages, back in 1992. Our three daughters were all in high school and college by the time I came across it. My wife, Debbie, and I both wish we had known what Dr. Chapman wrote in his book when our girls were little. It would have made us way more effective parents, and it would have been so much better for the girls. I’m so thankful that by God’s grace they all three got that we loved them, but not without struggles.

Dr. Chapman’s thesis is that there are five ways people give and receive love. These are called Five Love Languages. It’s hard to imagine, but these five languages really do cover the subject. They cover it for you, your spouse, your kids. Even your boss.

All of us have a primary love language. Most of us have a secondary one, too. In fact, most of us have a little bit of each one of the five, but they’re not all equally strong for and in us.

So here are the five:
Quality Time,
Giving & Receiving Gifts,
Words of Affirmation,
Physical Touch,
Acts of Service.

The question to ask yourself is, “How do I most often show love to my wife, my kids, etc.? Of these five things, which one am I most likely to do when I want to show love?” Here’s another question: “Which of these captures what I most appreciate when someone does something from one of these categories for me?”

Usually you’ll get a pretty good idea of which your primary love language is by answering these questions about yourself. It’s a little harder to answer them for your spouse and kids. Do the best you can by thinking about them as you answer these same questions.

Then after you’ve spent some time thinking about this, get on the Internet and go to this website: You can fill out an inventory for yourself, each of your kids and for your spouse. The results I’ve gotten every time I’ve done it are accurate. So go ahead. Click it up. I’ll wait.

After you do the online inventories, I have a feeling you’ll want to read the book. Actually, Dr. Chapman has written a variety of Love Language books. You saw them when you clicked up the website I gave you. You can buy these in audio format, too. I highly recommend that if you have any kind of commute to and from your work, you buy the audio book and listen to it back and forth.

I’ll come back to the Five Love Languages in my next post with some practical ways to utilize what I think you’ll learn about yourself and your kids. When you leverage your understanding of your kids’s, your spouse’s, and your own love language, you can address the single greatest need your kids have. What they most need is…

I’ll tell you next time.

From → Marriage

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