VALENTINE’S DAY – LOVE & FRIENDSHIP
Valentines Day is right around the corner. You can use this as a teachable moment for your children. It usually means some sort of exchange of little cards at school or with friends, and perhaps some challenges with friendships or lack of friendships. There is an undercurrent (or perhaps something more in-your-face) of pairing up. So often, this is a time when pre-teens may worry about whether they will ever be liked, accepted or wanted by someone of the opposite sex. (Belonging and acceptance are foundational needs for every human being.)
As a parent you can set the tone for Valentine’s Day. Here are some things you can talk about while you are addressing Valentines cards or doing that cute craft project. (There are some downloads and ideas at http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/holidays/valentines-day-cards-and-activities.)
- · Discuss the legend of St. Valentine, for whom this holiday was named. According to www.history.com he was a Catholic monk who was martyred in Rome. Claudius the Cruel (what a name!) had forbidden engagements and marriages, wanting to get more young men to join his army. Valentine felt that was wrong and continued to secretly perform weddings. He was beheaded for it. He is said to have left a note for a young friend signed, “From Your Valentine.”
- · Talk about the love of God – He is the author of all love. (1 John 4:7) Because of His love, He gave us Jesus. (1 John 3:16) He wants us to love one another. (1 John 3:11) If someone does not love others, he cannot claim to be a Christian. (1 John 4:8)
- · Children and teenagers need to learn how to be a good friend before they worry about falling in love. Friendship is the foundation for a good marriage. Dr. James Dobson wrote long ago that friendship was the missing ingredient for so many young men and women’s relationships.
We used to tell our kids’ friends (and their parents!) that our children were not old enough to be boyfriends or girlfriends. They could only be friends until they grew up more. (What IS it with parents trying to pair their kids up for life at the age of 9 or 10 or 12? Yikes!) If they learn how to be a good friend, then they are ready for learning about courtship and romance. If they are pairing up at 12, what will they escalate to at 16? Slow things down, for Pete's sake!
So, what does it take to be a good friend? A friend knows you and likes you for who you are, not for what you can do for him. They aren’t trying to make you into something you are not. She is a good listener, able to have a give-and-take conversation, not dominating all your time together. She shares her thoughts and ideas, but gives you time to express yours. A friend likes many of the same things you do. They value most of the same things you do. They are honest without being rude about their feelings. Their actions and their words match. They do not gossip about you or about others. Mature friends are willing to work on disagreements and conflicts. Good friends are not too busy to spend time with you, especially when you need them in a hard season. (Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) Of course, this is a growing, developing thing for young children. They cannot expect their young friends to be fully-formed in these areas. Pick one area to work on with your family, then in 6 months, tackle another. Talk to them about what they like in their friends. Draw them out about their friendships. Teach them how to choose good friends.
I love to buy candy hearts for our kids. My husband takes our single daughter out on a date, so she will not feel forlorn in this season. I buy a little box of chocolates for my husband. Some families put loving notes in lunch boxes for their kids. This is a wonderful time to do something special for that single parent friend as well. Enjoy this season and spread your love around!
For more parenting help go to www.IntentionalParenting.us or consider my book, Intentional Parenting: A Guide for Christian Parents. There is also a Small Group guide with discussion questions for couples or groups.