Do you have any recommendations for celebrating Valentine’s Day? I’d like my child to be able to enjoy the experience, but I don’t want to reinforce our culture’s misguided ideas about romance.
Answer: You’re wise to recognise that Valentine’s Day has the potential to promote wrong ideas about love. But there’s no reason why you can’t get beyond the glitter of cards, flowers, and boxes of chocolate to help your child understand love’s real meaning. Here are some suggestions of things you might do to encourage a proper perspective on the subject:
- List the characteristics that distinguish true love from infatuation. Place the lists side by side and have your child decide which set of qualities she wants seen in her life.
- Talk about the signs or evidence of true love: How do you know when two people really love one another? Have your child provide specific examples from relationships she respects. Discuss her reasons for feeling this way.
- Take a critical look at television, movies, music, and even greeting cards with your child and help her discern the messages they communicate. Are they promoting infatuation or real love? Shallow feelings or genuine intimacy? Mere physical chemistry or a deep, selfless commitment to the relationship? You’d be surprised what a valuable exercise this might turn out to be.
All things considered, this holiday can be a great time to help children – teens in particular – consider the larger issues of love and the importance of choosing a spouse wisely. Emotions and chemistry aren’t necessarily wrong – after all, who wants a passionless marriage without any spark? But if romance is only an emotional “buzz,” it’s not love at all. Flowers, cards, and chocolates can be wonderful expressions of affection, but it’s important that children learn to keep these things in their proper place.
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