Family Chords

12 November 2019

Harmony: “the blending of simultaneous sounds of different pitches or quality”. Harmonies can turn a good song into a great song.

Harmony can be considered as a concept to aim for in family life: Different temperaments, personalities, preferences blended together to become something better than the sum of their parts. All members of the family respected, allowed to be themselves and learning the ‘filler’ of life – how to all get along together. Harmony at home brings flow to life.

A major part of that for us parents/carers is working out how each member of the family tends to show love, and therefore how they want love shown to them. Dr Gary Chapman’s ‘Five Love Languages’, when considered in our parenting, can lead to real insights into seemingly impossible to solve behavioural and relational problems. Ainsley Arment, founder of the Wild + Free community and author of the recently released, ‘Call of the Wild + Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child’s Education’, shares their revelation in learning that their third son’s love language was ‘acts of service’ – not a love expression shared by either her or her husband.

In our home we also have struggled with our eldest seeming to revert to panicky, controlling behaviour at times when he was tired, hungry, stressed, moved through transition times too fast, jealous of his younger sister or when relationships were out of harmony. The insight in realising his love languages were ‘acts of service’ and ‘quality time’, reframes those fractured moments and frustrations into us hearing his calls for love, connection, and harmony. As Ainsley found, complying with those shouted, urgent requests in those moments filled him up, so as to change his behaviour moving forward.

“So we tied his shoes and spread the toothpaste on his brush and made his bed in the morning, and suddenly we had a different boy. He became much more loving and cooperative”.

The relationship between our two children has been greatly improved by explaining the concept of love languages and the different types: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch. Our son now understands that his younger sister isn’t being intentionally irritating insisting he take messily wrapped sticker after sticker from her; she is trying to show love by giving gifts, her love language. He isn’t irrationally jealous of his sister, he just needs more one-on-one, quality time with his parents. My husband needs a hug before we can discuss our differences (usually not my go-to!). And the kids can understand that I really feel valued and loved when they all chip-in around the house.

I’m sure some families can easily reach harmony when their family members speak the same ‘love languages’, but it is possible to learn about our differences, respect the variety of ‘pitches’ and form a deep and harmonious family chord, based around love.

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