Valentine’s Day can be hard for teens. While some teens get flowers and gifts delivered to them in school, Valentine’s Day sends mixed messages to non-dating teens. Even dating teens can be in unhealthy or toxic relationships.
This holiday provides good conversations for you and your teen. How can you help your teen survive the Valentine’s Day?
Nine Ways to Engage with Your Teen
Be sensitive to them. Valentine’s Day may not be a big deal for your teen. But if it is, be sensitive. Eighth graders through sophomores are emotionally and socially wired and things are magnified for them. If your teen doesn’t have a romantic interest, Valentine’s Day can be hard for them.
Genuinely affirm them. Teens think romantic relationships fill a void in their lives. Teenagers are fragile, needing affirmation and love. Encourage your teens with positive affirmations. When teens receive affirmation and confidence from people they love, they aren’t so needy for the attention of a boy or girl.
Write them a note. Send a note of affirmation to your teen on Valentine’s Day expressing the qualities you appreciate about them. Part of the Valentine’s Day “hoopla” is feeling special, loved, and affirmed. Be the person to do that for your teen.
Take your teen out on a date. Dads, daughters need you. Make a point to take your daughter on a date for Valentine’s Day and make her feel special. You’re still the most important man in her life, even if she has a boyfriend. Moms, do the same for your son. As a mom of three teen boys, they appreciate this, too.
Give perspective to romantic relationships in the life of your teen. Most teens won’t marry the person they date in high school, but they make crucial decisions about character, values, sex, and priorities in these relationships. Help your teen see the long-term effects of unhealthy or toxic relationships in high school. Help them see that being single on Valentine’s Day isn’t the worst thing compared to the long-terms goals for their life.
Talk about love and lust. This is a hot topic when I talk to kids about healthy relationships in schools. With the rise of pornography, kids are truly confused about love and lust. Have an honest talk with them about their perspective, the culture of their peers, and the impact porn has on relationships.
Talk about sexting and boundaries. Valentine’s Day may be the pressure point for teens in relationships to share photos with their dating partner. A recent article cited 2/3 of girls surveyed had been asked for nude photos. In my work with local schools, junior high kids report that it’s a problem at their level. Talk to your kids honestly about the pressures, about personal boundaries, and implications of photos shared or photos requested. Reports from local teens also are that a photo shared is NOT a photo kept. If your teen tells you they’ve shared a photo, don’t shame them. Support them and walk forward. (Photos shared under the age of 18 are considered child pornography).
Listen. Opening a conversation with kids about love, lust, sex, or relationships on Valentine’s Day may take different directions. One of the greatest gifts you can give your teen is to listen, not lecture. Your teen needs safe, secure spaces where they can talk about the fast-pace of life, images, and messages around them. Surprise them by being a safe person in their world that will listen, see them, and hear them. That’s the best Valentine’s Day gift you can give them.
Be aware of unhealthy and abusive warnings in teen relationships. February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month and I’m speaking in three area schools on the topic. All parents should be educated on it. For information on Teen Dating Violence, visit Love is Respect for resources.
I’d love to hear how you support your teen on Valentine’s Day! Comment below and share!
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