TALLAHASSEE, FL - Not everyone share in the excitement for the Valentine's Day Holiday.
Family Therapist Jane Marks explains how parents navigate what their teenagers may be feeling around this time in this week's Teen Talk.
Teens and Valentines
Question: For teenagers at Valentine's Day it is typically a mixed bag. I have three teens two of which look forward to Valentine's Day and the other who finds it a totally miserable experience. How can I approach this with enthusiasm for both sets of teens?
Answer: What is interesting about this question is that new research shows that teenagers by and large do not identify Valentine's Day as one of the most positive days they look forward to. In fact, research indicates that they find it very overrated and in some cases find it irrelevant. Because social media is such a big part of their lives they feel that Valentine's Day can be positive but mostly very hurtful and so it is not with great enthusiasm that some teens look forward to it. However, here are some strategies to make Valentine's Day a very positive experience for both those that look forward to it and those that find it a less than relevant experience.
1. MAKING VALENTINE'S DAY A DAY OF GENEROSITY AND FOR REFRAMING THE EXPERIENCE. Encourage your teen to give a gift of the heart to someone who least expects it. For example, the person who works in the lunchroom, or who cleans, who is responsible for taking attendance at school or who is more likely to be in positions where they must be guarded, these are the surprises that people feel most surprised by because they never expected a Valentine of this nature.
2. INSTEAD OF CELEBRATING VALENTINE'S DAY IN A TYPICAL WAY, PARENTS AND TEENS CAN CHOOSE TO GO TO A MOVIE, A SPORTING EVENT OR CONCERT. Making a dinner together, going to a coffee shop for the first time, tie dying shirts, making a painting as a family which may start a new tradition for this experience.
3. MAKE VALENTINE'S ABOUT LOVE, ACTION AND HUMAN CONNECTION. Certainly with teens taking action may be spending the evening baking cookies and taking them to a pediatric unit or an oncology unit or to game day at an assisted living facility. Give the gift of volunteering your time. In almost any city there are multiple opportunities to volunteer your time on Valentine's Day. So, you not only give of your time but you give of your heart.
4. SECRET GESTURES ARE ALSO VERY POWERFUL AND HAVE MULTIPLE RIPPLE EFFECTS. These would include secretly doing small gestures for your neighbors. For example, if you have an elderly neighbor, buying a rake and putting a red bow and saying for three times this year I will come and rake your yard. The recipient looks forward to it and you look forward to the gift in self.
5. TEENS, PARTICULARLY THE CURMUDGEONS, IT'S NICE TO GIVE A CONTINUING GIFT THAT HAS EFFECTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. For example, a feed love bag, every eco-friendly bag sold will provide approximately 30 days of ARV treatments through the global fund and 30 school meals through the United Nations.
6. UNIQUE VALENTINE'S GIFTS FOR TEENS WOULD BE UNEXPECTED ITEMS LIKE PINK OR RED BICYCLE HELMETS OR OVER KNEE SOCKS, OR A PIECE OF CUSTOM JEWELRY FOR GIRLS AND FOR BOYS ISSUES AS FAR AS MIXED CD'S OF MUSIC THAT THEY LOVE. Homemade cookies, a photo album with shots taken over the last four months that you find particularly funny, handmade artwork of something they love or something they created themselves. A coupon jar, fill a coupon jar with creative ideas that you find that will be meaningful for them. For example, an athlete, to go and get a foot massage for a period of time.
7. FLOWERS, TONS OF CHOCOLATE, THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE AND WONDERFUL CARDS ARE ALWAYS NICE OPTIONS EVEN FOR THOSE WHO LEAST EXPECT IT. Flowers, a single flower as opposed to two dozen. A stuffed animal, a tiny one as opposed to the big giant one from Walmart. These are great gifts that your teen will least expect.
8. AN OLD-FASHIONED CONCEPT OF SPENDING AS LITTLE MONEY BUT THOUGHTFULNESS IS REALLY A PART THAT COMES INTO PLAY ON VALENTINE'S DAY. The old-fashioned message in a bottle where you create messages for your teens or your teens create messages for the people they are crushing on, and that can make it a special experience.
9. UNIQUE GIFTS FOR THE GUYS IN YOUR LIFE WOULD BE A GAME NIGHT, OR HEADPHONES, BACKPACKS AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT GREETING CARDS, INSTEAD OF FROM HALLMARK, MAKE IT FROM URBAN OUTFITTERS.
10. A REALLY WONDERFUL VALENTINE'S GIFT IS THE NEW WALLETS, THE RMD WALLETS FOR BOTH GUYS AND GIRLS WHERE THEIR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION WILL NOT BE LIFTED.
11. PERSONALIZED GIFTS WITH YOUR TEENS' NAME ON IT OR YOUR NAME ON IT. Anything hands on is very effective for teens. And remember Valentine's Day is about generosity and love and one of the things we talked about years ago, was that there was an attempt to make Valentine's Day a day of not just time honored love but a day of action, so let's get out there teens and parents and make this Valentine's Day a day of warmth and love and action and wonderful connections.