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Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilities

Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilities

by Gary Chapman, Jolene Philo


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"With a frank and honest observation on how disability can unravel family unity, this book inspires and equips us to live out our faith as we interact with those we love."

-Joni Eareckson Tada, founder & CEO, Joni and Friends

Between the worry, the doctor’s appointments, and the thousand small challenges of everyday life, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. The idea of showing abundant love to every member of your family can feel like a daunting task. Jolene Philo has been there. And in this wise, warm, practical guide, she and Dr. Gary Chapman show you how the 5 love languages can help strengthen your marriage and family life—whatever your needs. Sharing dozens of stories from parents of children with special needs children, they teach you how to:

  • protect your marriage amidst the stress
  • discover and speak the love language of your child—even if they’re nonverbal
  • accommodate the love languages for children with special needs and disabilities
  • show love to every member of your family when you have limited time, money, and energy

Having a special needs child shouldn’t mean sacrificing a full family life. Learn to share love abundantly no matter your circumstances.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802418623
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Publication date: 08/06/2019
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 548,838
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

GARY CHAPMAN—author, speaker, counselor—has a passion for people and for helping them form lasting relationships. He is the #1 bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages series and director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. Gary travels the world presenting seminars, and his radio programs air on more than 400 stations. For more information visit his website at

JOLENE PHILO, M.Ed, is the author of five resource books for the special needs community: A Different Dream for My Child, Different Dream Parenting, The Caregiver's Notebook, and Does My Child Have PTSD?. She co-authored Every Child Welcome: A Ministry Handbook for Including Kids with Special Needs with Katie Wetherbee. During her twenty-five-year career as an educator, Jolene collaborated with special education teachers to mainstream children in her elementary classroom. She left education in 2003 to become a writer and speaker. She and her husband Hiram have two adult children and three grandchildren. They make their home in Polk City, Iowa.

Table of Contents

About the Authors 11

Foreword 13

Introduction 17

A Note to Family and Friends 21

1 How a Baby with Special Needs Changed the Way We Love 23

2 Special Needs Parenting and the Challenges of Loving 47

3 Communication and Connection: Sharing Love with Your Spouse 59

4 Love Is a Child's First Language 75

5 Loving Your Child with Special Needs: Words of Affirmation and Quality Time 89

6 Loving Your Child with Special Needs: Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch 99

7 Sharing Love with Siblings 111

8 How Extended Family and Friends Can Support Caregiving Families 123

9 Communicating about the Love Languages with Professionals 133

10 Voices of Experience 145

Epilogue: Keeping Love Alive in Special Needs Families 153

Appendix 155

Recommended Resources 163

Acknowledgments 169

Notes 171

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families

I am thrilled that this much-needed book, Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families, has ended up in your hands. The pages are filled with real people sharing their firsthand experiences within this community. These stories enlighten us on how to thrive in our special and sometimes complicated families. Chapman and Philo insightfully explain key biblical truths such as “hesed.” This book teaches practical ways to intentionally weave the five love language principles into our hearts to support this lifelong “hesed” commitment. I am so excited to share this book with our Church of the Highlands families!
–Susan Pannell, Highlands Haven Director, Church of the Highlands

This book by Dr. Gary Chapman and Jolene Philo reminds us that every person is unique and has different needs. The five love languages provides a simple framework to understand that and respond to those we love. By sharing details specific to the lives of parents raising children with disabilities, it helps parents of individuals with disabilities realize they are not alone. There is also information that will help parents and families navigate life loving each other and raising and launching their sons and daughters with disabilities.
–Anne Masters, MA, FAAIDD, Director, Pastoral Ministry with Persons with Disabilities
Archdiocese of Newark

Gary and Jolene’s new book, Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families, lights the way for parents to find each other in the complex journey of raising a family when a child is diagnosed with a disability. The five love languages provides tender support to a spouse who’s managing practical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of raising a child with a disability and can be applied to other relationships—with the child, siblings, and extended family. Professionals will gain insights to better support families. Parents will appreciate the ease in which the love languages can become part of self-care and growth as they raise their families.
–Shelly Christensen, MA, FAAIDD, parent of a child with a disability and author of From Longing to Belonging—A Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions in Your Faith Community

Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families is a true treasure for special needs families! It addresses not only our marital relationships but also how we relate to our children with disabilities and their siblings. This book is a resource to be referenced time and time again, providing valuable tools for ordinary families in extraordinary situations!
–Arielle Hobbs, founder of The Lion League, a nonprofit organization supporting students with disabilities in elementary, middle, and high school

Wow! We wish we had this book when our son was young. As parents of a child with special needs, the first thing to suffer was our relationship with each other. The second area that suffered was our relationship with our “typical” son. In a time that carries additional stressors, our relationships with our family don’t need to suffer. The simple yet profound insights offered in this book will equip struggling families to thrive in life’s challenges!
–Jonathan, MA, and Sarah McGuire MA, MS, founders of Hope Anew, which guides families impacted by special needs to Christ-centered hope and healing

As a special-needs sibling and parent, my family has been impacted by disability since the day I was born. This book from Dr. Chapman and Jolene is practical and encouraging, guiding families like mine in how to more effectively show love to each other. I’m thankful for such a comprehensive book that addresses not only how to love our children with disabilities in ways that are meaningful to them, but also our spouses and the typical children in our families. Whether you are new to the special-needs world or are a forty-year veteran like I am, this book will strengthen your family as you learn to give and receive love according to the love language you each speak.
–Sandra Peoples, MDiv, author of Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special-Needs Family

"Learning your child has special needs can trigger so many fears and uncertainties: “What will life be like for my child? For me? What about medical care, education, my child's future?” Perhaps scariest of all, “Will my child be able to know how much I love them?” The answer to the last question is a resounding yes. In Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families, Gary and Jolene teach parents and caregivers how to communicate love in ways their children can understand. Encompassing a wide range of recommendations for children with different special needs, here you can learn how to unlock the love language your child already knows and root your relationship firmly in a foundation of love.
Elrena Evans, author, disability advocate, and editor and content specialists for Evangelicals for Social Action

Eighteen years ago, we were in over our heads, as a young married couple with a toddler and a newborn with special needs. Due to our son’s special needs, it took us months to connect with him in meaningful ways. Oh, I wish we had this book then! Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families combines Dr. Chapman’s five love languages with Jolene’s parental and educational experience to produce a must-have resource for families and ministry leaders.
Joe Butler, MA, founder and CEO of Ability Tree (, an organization coming alongside families impacted by disability through recreation, education, support, and training

Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families is a must-have resource for all parents who have a child with special needs. So often as parents of a child with disabilities, we put our marriages on the back burner, and find ourselves struggling to keep it healthy and thriving. This book will help you discover your personal love language, as well as your mate’s. Equipped with this crucial understanding, you can implement the book’s practical advice on how to love your partner through their love language, in a way only a parent with a child with disabilities would understand. But it doesn’t stop there. It also helps parents figure out the love language of their child with disabilities and the unique ways we can show abundant love to them as we become fluent in their love language. I will be recommending this book to all of my families.
–Amy Kendall, Disabilities Minister at Saddleback Church

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