Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays of the year. Each February, more than half of American adults celebrate the day of love with gifts, flowers, candy, or special outings. For many it’s a day to spoil a loved one or celebrate feelings for a significant other. For others not in a relationship, it can be a hurtful reminder of a love not yet found. But the most likely group to be downtrodden on Valentine’s Day are teenagers.
With social pressure already high, mixed with a flurry of hormones and uncertainty, many teenagers find Valentine’s Day more stressful than ever. According to studies done over the last few years, teenagers feel Valentine’s Day is overrated or irrelevant with over 53% saying they don’t participate at all. In addition to the traditional expectation of having a special someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with, teenagers are tasked with the added pressures of social media which seems to be an essential part of the days’ celebration. Of teenagers under 15 asked, 21% said that social media was “extremely important” on Valentine’s Day while over 64% said it was “somewhat important.” And while social media and Valentine’s Day go hand in hand for teenagers, it can also take away from the fun with 65% of teens saying social media made them feel stressed or jealous.
So what’s a parent to do around Valentine’s Day and how can you help your teen navigate all the feelings that come with it? Communication.
Valentine’s Day is a great time to talk to your teen about healthy relationships and expectations. Teens need ongoing conversation and a connection with a trusted adult to understand and work through feelings regarding love, dating, and sex.
• Take initiative and don’t assume your teen will always come to you.
• Talk to your teen about the positive aspects of dating.
• Show an interest while still respecting your teen’s privacy when appropriate.
• Touch on peer pressure and ask your teen what their friends and classmates think, make sure they understand it is always ok to say “no” to situations they are not comfortable with.
• Keep the conversation going.
And what to do on the big day? There are lots of ways to make Valentine’s Day fun for teens whether they are celebrating with a significant other or not. Make the day about universal love or kindness for everyone. Do a favor for a neighbor or friend, or volunteer in the community. Have a party where all are welcome, gather friends for a movie night or cookie baking. Or make It a family affair, celebrate together by going out to dinner together, go for a hike, or getting some ice-cream.
Whether your teen loves or hates Valentine’s Day make sure they know they are not alone and Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a stressful affair.