The following chapter focuses mostly on what are commonly referred to as “love languages.” Gary Chapman was the one that initially laid out this theory in his book “The Five Love Languages.” The book sets out five general ways that people show love to each other. Gary Ezzo uses these “love languages” to lay out five ways that parents can show love to their partners and their children.
All of the “languages” are fairly straightforward so I will lay them out in a bullet point, briefly speak on them, and move forward.
- Words of Encouragement
- Kind or encouraging words used to show love.
- Acts of Service
- Doing something for a person with an action to show them love.
- Showing love by giving gifts to others.
- Quality Time
- Spending time with others in order to demonstrate love.
- Physical Touch and Closeness
- Using physical proximity and touch in order to show love.
While I’ve seen criticism of the “Five Love Languages” before I don’t intend to do that here. Garry seems to be genuinely laying out, in a simplified manner, ways for parents to show and receive love. My main critique of this section is that Gary Ezzo uses examples for these love languages in very gender coded type of ways. For instance Gary uses the example of a wife cleaning the house for her husband to demonstrate “acts of service,” and then uses an example of the husband fixing a leaky faucet for the same love language.
This chapter discusses Gary Ezzo’s eight mandates for fathers. This is odd in the fact that the Ezzo’s only address fathers, and skips completely over mother specific content. I feel that this is more than likely due to that fact that fathers are often seen as needing more instruction when it comes to parenting, and mothers are often viewed as having a natural maternal instinct. (I feel this assumption is entirely justified as I read through the mandates Ezzo places on fathers).
The first mandate Gary Ezzo places on fathers is to “Cultivate a sense of family identity.” I agree much of this like the emphasis on family trust and loyalty. But I do highly disagree with Ezzo’s statement that, “To speed up the process of bringing cohesiveness to your family, dad, you must be assertive in leading your family.” Pretty much directly stating that strong male leadership is necessary for a cohesive family.
The second mandate is to “Demonstrate an ongoing love for your wife.” Gary feels it’s necessary for children to see their father demonstrate love towards his wife. I have no contention at all with this point.
Third is the mandate to “Understand your child’s private world.” This is worded odd, but Gary explains that this is respecting your child when they are vulnerable and open with you.
“Give your child the freedom to fail,” is the forth mandate. And while I have no criticism for this point. Children 100% need the space and support to fail and make mistakes and to feel safe when they do make mistakes. I do, however, take issue with a quote within this section. It’s condescending towards the “secular” world (anyone outside of the Christian sphere). And a good example of the Us vs. Them type of logic I grew up with.
“When our children failed, ether in an achievement or a relationship, Ann Marie and I attempted to help them find the secret blessing. We often said, ‘Do you realize the number of adults who have not learned the lesson the Lord allowed you to learn today? Do you realize how many people live foolishly because they lack the wisdom you now possess?'”p76
Moving on to the fifth mandate, “Encourage your child.” Within this section Gary speaks about how fathers need to take time to encourage and uplift their children. And how doing this can build trust between the father and child. I fully support this idea. Parents need to spend time with their children showing them love and encouragement.
My quote to nitpick is below. The bar set forward for fathers is so low. Just read the quote it speaks for itself. I think it also illustrates my initial thought in the chapter introduction on how father’s are often perceived.
“We also recommend that father sign family Christmas and birthday cards. There is something very special about knowing Dad took the time to endorse the warm thoughts enclosed in the envelope. Children don’t usually question Mom’s commitment to the family, but such gestures confirm Dad’s devotion.p78
On to the sixth point, “Guard your tongue and your tone.” This section discusses being sensitive to your children’s feelings. Encouraging fathers to watch their abrasive tones or criticisms when their child shows joy or excitement.
The seventh mandate is to “Routinely embrace your child.” I think this section lacks nuance as he makes wide promises on benefits of hugging. Even pushing fathers to “not back away physically” as their daughters begin to age. This is very much something that is going to change on a person to person basis. Some kids love and need touch and others will not enjoy it in the least. In my mind kids should have a say in this. Ask them if they want love demonstrated in this way and if not then please respect that.
Cringey quotes then on to the next mandate.
“There is something very special about dad’s arms. Mom’s arms are comforting, but dad’s arms are secure.”p80
“For daughters, especially those beginning to blossom into womanhood (eleven to thirteen years of age), a father’s embrace is even more critical. Many dads unconsciously begin to back away physically when their daughters reach this stage in life. This is most painful for the girl who not only has to cope with her changing body, but also the devastating loss of dad’s physical affection. Dads, there is still a little girl yearning for the security of dad’s arms inside that maturing little body. Your daughter is still your little girl. She still needs hugs and kisses. If you fail to communicate your love through your touch, you will leave behind a yearning heart that can be taken captive by anyone willing to give it attention. Don’t leave your child open to the affections of the wrong person.”p80
The last portion of that quote is the worst in my mind. I know their are so many problems here, but I really want to keep moving along with the text.
The last mandate is to “Build trust on god’s word.” In this brief section Gary once again points back to scripture telling fathers to be “spiritual leaders” within the household. And encouraging them to share the message of the bible and salvation to their children.
Overall this was a fairly innocuous section of the book. One that I honestly wish my own father has spent more time with. While there were problematic areas nothing as severe as in previous chapters jumped out at me. Learning about how to show love and trust to your child is something every parent should strive for. I believe this should apply to both genders and not just father specific language.