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Valentine’s Day?

Embrace Love Found in Our Families, Friends, Partners, and Communities!

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We begin this week with Valentine’s Day. It can be a day that unhinges many mentally. Some will be absorbed in the dopamine euphoria of extending love and being loved while others will spiral into despair, feeling alone, rejected or they might lock into a cycle of analysis of love expectations not met. Is it an addiction? Take a look.

As Dr. William Glasser stated one of our basic human needs is love and belonging. The angst and heartache when this need is not met runs deep with individuals and ultimately affects our communities.  As Mother Teresa states: 

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.”

– From “A Simple Path: Mother Teresa

The lack of developmental maturity puts many children at risk to lose perspective on this celebrated day of love and connection. I remember when in elementary school in the ’60s filled with anticipation to see how many Valentine cards I would receive and from who. It was a day that one’s acceptance and popularity were affirmed. Today the standard rule in classrooms is that if Valentine Cards are shared that they are shared with the entire class. Although the shift towards inclusivity and empathy has helped make this day one of sharing, caring and friendship, our culture by virtue of our marketing and social media still preys on the insecurity of our youth. 

As adults, it is important that we guide our children in garnering a positive understanding of Valentine’s Day. We can help our youth see that Valentine’s Day is about all our relationships founded in connecting and relationship building, namely our families, friends, partners and communities. Maybe the day calls upon us to problem solve and look for strategies to remove relationship barriers.

One of my closest friends and my creative muse, Leslie Bell, has authored Happy Bunny and the Marshmallow Dragon, a picture book that might inspire discussions on how to build a relationship. It features Happy Bunny who heads out in search of friendship. Upon meeting what seems like an unlikely friend, Happy Bunny figures out a way he and the dragon can safely communicate. Here is a link to my recent reading of this perfect story for Valentine’s Day.

Maybe our challenge is to teach our youth that Valentine’s Day is about shifting perspective from receiving love and affirmation to giving love and support to others? It’s about reaching out and communicating with others. Let’s expand our expression of love to others beyond our romantic partners and family to include friends and those in our communities.

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