When we think about celebrating Valentine?s Day, most of us think of our sweetheart, our spouse, our partner. We hunt for the romantic, the gifts or gestures that reconfirm our love. And, that?s all good. But the day is about more than flowers and candy in heart-shaped boxes, especially …
When we think about celebrating Valentine?s Day, most of us think of our sweetheart, our spouse, our partner. We hunt for the romantic, the gifts or gestures that reconfirm our love. And, that?s all good. But the day is about more than flowers and candy in heart-shaped boxes, especially if you have children.
Yes, it is your and your partner?s day and how you treat each other speaks loudly to your offspring. They are watching and absorbing your ways of recognizing your bond. The way you celebrate and how inclusive you are of your children teaches them how they should — and will — act toward those they love in the future.
On Valentine?s Day
Being warm and loving to your grownup Valentine is as important as expressing love for your little sweethearts. Here are ideas, some from my book, Little Things Long Remembered, for creating a super special Valentine?s Day in your house and demonstrating thoughtfulness, caring, and sensitivity to your family. They are ideas that are wonderful to continue year round.
- Wake everyone up with a Happy Valentine?s Day greeting and ask your children to be your Valentine. It doesn?t matter if older offspring think you are silly.
- Get in the spirit by wearing something red.
- Hang a red or pink paper heart on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror with the words: Love YOU! Add your husband?s and your children?s names if you have time.
- Give an extra long Valentine hug as all go off to school or work.
- Ask your children to help you decide what they think their father would like. Maybe, it?s coupons for ?Boys Night Out ," with the promise of no complaining from you. Other fun ideas: ?Your choice of the next 4 rental movies,? ?Organizing your papers, books, or tool,? ?I?ll clean out your car,? or, ?This coupon is good for four back rubs.?
- Have them help you wrap that special surprise (if you decide to exchange gifts to mark the day).
- Give your children a small, token gift as well. Could be a heart-shaped rock, a small package of candy hearts, a bookmark with a Valentine message, a deck of cards (that you use to play a game with them).
- Leave a trail of chocolate kisses or candy hearts for your child to follow to find their surprise.
- Be excited about preparing a special Valentine?s dinner, and cook it with your children?s assistance.
- If you?re going out with your ?sweetheart,? make or do something with your children beforehand. Read a book together or play a game so they feel important, too.
- Give each of your children a Valentine?s card from both of you to underscore you are a unit (mom and dad). For added emphasis, deliver your cards at the same time you give one to your husband. You could put cards at their places at the breakfast or dinner table.
- Add a few candy hearts or chocolate kisses in their empty cereal bowl or in their lunch box.
- Cut bread into heart shapes and make French toast for breakfast.
- Put a valentine, in with your child?s school lunch — it can be something as simple as a note scribbled in red ink on a napkin.
- Draw red hearts on paper napkins putting one at each place at the dinner table.
- Think red (and pink) when you prepare dinner-apples,red onion, red grapes, strawberries or raspberries, strawberry ice cream.
- Start a Valentine?s Day cake tradition. Buy heart-shaped baking pans to use each year. You can also use a paper heart pattern on a round cake to cut out a heart. Short cut: stop at the bakery.
- Make heart-shaped pancakes ? it?s okay if they don?t come out perfectly formed! The kids will love them anyway.
- Give the dog or cat a special treat, too. Or, add a red bow to their collar or leash.
On the 364 other days
When we add children into the Valentine?s Day mix, sitting down with them and making Valentines to give to their friends may be the smallest part. How thoughtful, warm and loving you are to your grownup Valentine and your children the rest of the year makes a lasting, lifelong impression.
- Say I love you every day to your partner so the children hear you.
- Be supportive through everyone?s ups and downs.
- Pay close attention when your children are talking to you.
- Make time to be alone with your partner, and time alone to do something with each child.
- Apologize to partner and children if you?ve forgotten something they asked you to do.
- Always thank your family helpers as you would someone you hired to do a task.
- Stop what you?re doing to give special hugs and kisses?
On Valentine?s Day, just double these up. The day is not all about sweets — it?s about being sweet and loving everyday. Your young sweethearts-in-training will certainly get the message.
Social psychologist and parenting expert, Susan Newman, specializes in issues impacting family life. She is the author of 13 books including The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It?and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever (McGraw-Hill), the now classic, Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day and Little Things Mean a Lot: Creating Happy Memories with Your Grandchildren (Random House/Crown); and Parenting an Only Child: The Joys and Challenges of Raising Your One and Only, among others. For more details, go to www.thebookofno.com or www.susannewmanphd.com Sweethearts in Training: Teach Your Child About Love Through Example by Susan Newman, Ph.D., author of Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day