Hey Kids, I Don’t Need a Special Day to Say I Love You

If your child is like many across the United States, they celebrated Valentine’s Day in school recently. The tradition of sending valentines was originally dedicated to lovers or would-be suitors, but now, people seem exchange greetings with just about everyone they know in what many view as a manufactured holiday by the greeting card industry. There is a strong push to exchange cards with classmates. When you were a child, you likely gave out valentines to classmates selectively. Then, in response to some children being like Charlie Brown without a single valentine, a rule was made that if one hands out valentines, they have one for each class member. Today, many schools have gone so far as to make the practice mandatory. I’m not writing today to enter the discussion of whether or not these classroom exchanges are appropriate. The spillover from classroom card exchanges is significant enough to be addressed, however. You can use this holiday as a window of opportunity to discuss consideration of others’ feelings. There are probably few people who haven’t seen A Charlie Brown Valentine at least once since it debuted in 2002. In case you’re one of those few, it depicts Charlie Brown and his cohorts as they deal with what it means to “like” someone on Valentine’s Day. More than one child has hurt feelings as a result. Neither you nor your child want to pretend that they have romantic interests in someone they don’t and you don’t want them to pretend to be friends with someone they don’t like. However, that doesn’t mean you want to callously disregard the feelings of other children, either. This is a great starting point for you to open a conversation with child about how they might handle similar scenarios.
  • What do you say when someone you view as a friend asks if you “like” him/her?
  • How would you react if you have a crush on someone and they don’t seem to know you’re alive?
  • Is it possible that you could be like the Little Red Haired Girl, completely oblivious to the adoration of another?
  • If so, what are some ways you might handle that situation?
Depending on the age of your child, you might share some of your own experiences. It’s important to remember that the conversation is really about getting your child to open up and think about their feelings as well as the feelings of others. Your experiences may be appropriate if they help your child open up or feel more normal. If your child is struggling with the concept of recognizing how another child might feel, this could be a great time to remind them to tap into his Internal Guidance System (IGS). At times, this struggling can indicate that you’re being too literal or narrowly focused on the question. By using your own IGS, you can open up to the bigger picture. Another conversation point with your child can be how and when you tell your family members that you love them. Love goes without saying, right? But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said. Neither does it mean that you should only tell your loved ones that you love them on special holidays like Valentine’s Day. Whether or not you choose to celebrate the St. Valentine’s tradition on Feb. 14 is up to you. Do you give your family members cards? Do you expect candy or flowers? All of these items are ways that you can demonstrate your affection for another person no matter what day of the year. While the gifts may feel good, simple words and actions often feel even better. Some people aren’t skilled at expressing their feelings. For them, small gifts on special days may make letting you know that you’re loved easier. For some, it may feel like a lot of pressure. Being able to express your feelings is a skill that can take practice. Go ahead, practice with your child. Practice with your co-parent in front of your child so long as it’s within reason. Demonstrate that it’s okay to let people know you love them. Let them see that they don’t have to be a greeting card writer and that simple words are just as sweet. Being sincere and thoughtful about expressing themselves is more valuable than a card purchased at the last minute. And don’t wait until next Valentine’s Day to start – now is as good a time as any.

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