Archive for Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentine’s Day a windoww to youngsters’ souls

February 13, 2008

Valentine's Day tries to make romantics out of all of us. It is a time when advertising is full of hearts, flowers, chocolate and jewels.

Everybody is urged to get a little something for their Valentine. I suppose that each of us does have some one or something for which we can show affection by telling them so or by giving them a card or gift. Anyway, that's what merchandisers would like us to do.

On the other hand, that may be too easy. I think one should show love by what we do in day-to-day behavior. Consideration of the needs of the object of our love means more that an occasional gift.

As we are often reminded, there are many meanings of the word "love." One meaning refers to the hormonal passions of love between couples, but there are many other kinds of love out there - love of country, God, of a parent for a child, of friends and pets and so on. However, I think that Valentine's Day emphasizes love between a man and a woman more than any other variety. This aspect of Valentine's Day puts pressure on our young people.

In many ways I think our children are influenced too much to date and find a "true" love early in life. Television, movies, advertising and peer pressure advocate early pairing off. This might have made sense once when life spans were much shorter, but with the advances of modern medicine, most of us expect to live much longer than our ancestors. We humans have a long stretch of time when education and development of our character takes place. It is much more important that children and teenagers complete their own education than spend their energies on another person.

This is why I think adolescents need more attention from their parents than do toddlers. One worries that a two-year old is going to climb up on a steep stairway or eat something poisonous, but teenagers are even more likely to do permanent damage to their lives by getting involved with another person to the complete detriment of their studies. I understand their need to "belong" and be part of the main stream of life, but I think parents need to talk earnestly and often to their adolescent children about choices and their futures. They need to understand that if their love for another is true, it will not go away and will be even more solid if they wait to grow up and develop their minds and characters in the meantime. Parents need to "be there" for their children at this stage of life and not give up and let them get too deeply into relationships that the children will later regret.

There's a lot of pressure and stimulation for youngsters to find "true love" and not just on Valentine's Day. Advertising on television, books, and television shows often center on passionate love. I think that adults need to discuss the situation early and often with teenagers. They need to let them know that they are valuable in themselves and that they don't need to have a girlfriend or boyfriend to validate themselves. It's normal and natural for teenage crushes to occur and parents should understand and not ridicule their offspring for this, but they also need to provide a steady hand in the choices their youngsters make. That's the best Valentine gift of all.

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