One thing I try to do as a parent is to present an issue or a topic with a neutral, fair, two-sided and unbiased view.
“Some people feel this way about blank, but others feel this way about blank… What do you think?”
By phrasing competing thoughts on the issue, letting children analyze the pros and cons, then forming their own opinions, hopefully we are stoking the fires for future critical and independent thinkers.
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this fair and balanced vow has been tough for me to keep.
Valentine’s Day might very well be my least favorite, widely celebrated holiday.
Think about it… who is ever happy on Valentine’s Day? What percentage of the population loves to publicly show their affection for one another on a forced day of directed romanticism?
Single people LOATHE the day. They complain that they are cuddling that night with only their pet. They sadly warm up leftovers, drink a box of wine and finish off the night with a pint of peanut butter cup chocolate swirl ice cream, dreaming about the one that got away…
Married people LOATHE the day even more! They think about the pressure to do something nice for their spouse. Is the gift expensive enough? If I buy my wife chocolates, does that mean she’s going to interpret that as me saying she likes to eat and she’s overweight? Roses are so cliche. Should I get tulips? Where should we go to dinner that night? Will they have some crowded, terrible price fix Valentine’s Day four course meal?
Think about the expectations. How many married or dating couples have ever had fights about the expectations of Valentine’s Day? I’m guessing many.
Couples in the United States spent over $17.6 billion dollars on the holiday in 2012. The average male spent $170 on the holiday. Valentine’s Day is also by far, the most sexist of all holidays. The average woman celebrating Valentine’s Day only spend $85 on their man.
Regardless, let’s say you play all the cards right (that’s a big “if”), get the perfect, unique gift. You find a quaint new restaurant and your reservation holds up and you have a nice meal and some light conversation on this evening and you hit the expectations for each other out of the park on this one fateful night in February.
What does this say about your relationship and your love as a whole?
Nothing. It says nothing. It’s a front. Valentine’s Day is the Quarterback Jamarcus Russell of all holidays. Big arm, great height, elite athleticism, but zero heart, drive, or authenticity.
The next morning on February 15th, Valentine’s day is over and your relationship and love is on the same status as your relationship or love was on February 13th.
Valentine’s Day is simply the worst.
Relationships are more than flowers, chocolates or fancy dinner reservations. Relationships are based on trust, honesty, devotion and a passionate chemistry. Relationships are not bound or broken on one day in February, relationships are built over time, with consistency and respect. Relationships cannot be bought, they are earned.
Cheating on your spouse? Secretly saving money in a savings account separate from the family checking account? Addicted to alcohol or drugs? In need of marriage counseling? FORGET ABOUT IT! IT’S VALENTINE’S DAY! Roses, chocolates and dinner reservations will cure all the ills! Am I right?
Ick. The whole holiday makes me feel icky. And if you research the origins and history of the holiday, those will continue to make you question why it is so widely celebrated worldwide. Drunken Romans, animal sacrifices, executions of martyrs… it’s all no good.
Those are my jaded, biased thoughts on Valentine’s Day. Some may disagree with my opinion, some may agree… but the important question is, what do we teach our children about the holiday?
Veteran’s Day is easy to educate young kids about. New Year’s Day, Memorial Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day… all pretty cut and dry. But Valentine’s Day?
My son recently asked me about my feelings about the holiday and I didn’t go into an in-depth argument about why I think the holiday is icky. I censored my thoughts, because when kids are elementary age, we want to protect them from all the harsh realities of the world. I want him to figure this all out for himself. Perhaps he may be the next romantic poet like William Shakespeare and I would have robbed him of his motivation and drive. I want him to view the world in his own (nearly 6 years old) eyes, in 2015.
– First, I told him Daddy and Mommy don’t celebrate it as much as some other people do. He should not expect to receive gifts like on Christmas or birthdays. If he wished to make a family member or a friend a gift or a card, that we would help him with that. If he wished to schedule a future play date with one of his best friends, we could help him do that as well.
– Next I told him the holiday is about expressing love, and expressing your love for your friends and family is healthy.
– I told him that Daddy thinks Valentine’s Day is about finding the good in people where some people don’t see it.
– Lastly, I told him that Valentine’s Day is a day to spend with those you love.
This Valentine’s Day, we plan to make dinner at home as a family. After dinner, we are thinking of going Snow Tubing at a local ski resort as a reward for recent good behavior and good report cards.
As a family, we are treating the holiday much like any other weekend together, because love is a year-round gig… but we’ll let them figure that all out as they grow older.
Does your family celebrate Valentine’s Day? What do you tell your children about the day? What are your favorite holidays and why?