By Tracy Lamperti,
Psychotherapist, Educator, Consultant
Roses, boxes of chocolates, love notes, kisses, romance and blushing…sound wonderful? Not to everyone. In fact, for teenagers, Valentine’s Day can be one of the most stressful days of the year. They often experience worry, disappointment and even depression on this“special day.”
“Will someone leave me a love note?”
“Will I have someone to hold hands with on the way to class?”
“What if I don’t have a story to tell when my friends are bragging about “how far” they have gone?”
And even worse, “I went ‘too far’ and now he’s (she’s) on to someone else. I think I’ll skip school tomorrow. I’m so embarrassed!”
Even elementary school children have been known to come home sad because they didn’t get as many “Valentines” as their friend.
How Parents Can Save the Day
I am posting this purposely a little more than two weeks before the big day so you have time to think about how you are going to show your son or daughter that you love them more than anyone on this special day!
…because, when our children know and feel that they are loved deeply at home, they can go to school with confidence, even if their inbox isn’t full, and their locker hasn’t been smacked with red lips when no one was
looking, and they don’t have a boy(girl)friend to strut down the halls with, and they didn’t get as many valentines as their friend.
1. Countdown to Valentine’s Day – do something little but special each of the 14 days before the big one. Google “Count Down to Valentine’s Day” and you will get some ideas. Here is one very cute, but also kind of
ambitious idea, http://www.makoodle.com/valentine-countdown/ and some creative free printables, http://www.mommybydaycrafterbynight.com/p/free-printables.html
2. Drive your child to school on the big day. Leave early and stop for a hot chocolate or whatever their pleasure is. Leave early enough to take your time and enjoy a little sit down with your child while they enjoy their Danish, or whatever.
3. Pick your child up from school. Take them out for a jumbo chocolate chip cookie or something else enjoyable. Leave them a card or a coupon in the morning, so that they can think about it at school instead of wondering if they are really important to anyone or not.
4. Rig up their door so when they exit their bedroom, a dozen balloons fall on their head. You get the idea.
Use your imagination.
5. Leave a trail of notes in every spot they will visit before leaving for school, each one acknowledging why you love them so much.
6. Buy them a gift. This one is not on the top of the list, so if you are going to go with it, make the gift not top dollar, but something meaningful that sends the best message of love to your child. Believe it or not, an
inexpensive pair of heart socks will mean a great deal to a child who can lift up their pant leg at school and say, “Do you like the socks my dad gave me this morning."
7. Without fail, and without regard to your child’s age, give them a hug before they depart for the day. If hugging your teenage son or daughter is not typical, lay it right on the table, “Son…I don’t tell you I love you nearly enough. Let me give you a hug before you get out the door.”
8. If your daughter, or son, has a father (or mother) that lives out of the home and they have not already acknowledged Valentine’s Day, find an aunt or an uncle, or maybe a friend or other close person. Enlist their support. Ask them if they would kindly help you show love to your child by doing one of the above.
9. If you have a niece or nephew or child of a friend who has an absent or uninvolved parent, offer your love and support. Ask if you could pick them up from school and take them out to the Hot Chocolate Sparrow.
10. Really get into it! Decorate your house, wear the socks, give your spouse flowers, balloons or chocolate, and make a special dinner and/or dessert.
I welcome an invitation to talk to your parents’ group or youth group about how to help children and teenagers feel confident and reduce their likelihood of sexual experimentation for the purpose of seeking love and connection.
Protected Hearts, A Sexual Integrity Program
Children with involved parents who show love and connection are far less likely to experiment sexually.
Please see, Why Teens Have Sex, by Tracy Lamperti for more information.
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC Psychotherapist, Educator, Consultant
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