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Advise kids on Valentine’s Day

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th February 2006 03:00 AM

TOMORROW is Valentine’s Day. For many people, this day is all about red roses, dinner and lots of excitement. But for others, it may be about tears, confusion and heartbreak.

TOMORROW is Valentine’s Day. For many people, this day is all about red roses, dinner and lots of excitement. But for others, it may be about tears, confusion and heartbreak.

By Titus Serunjogi

TOMORROW is Valentine’s Day. For many people, this day is all about red roses, dinner and lots of excitement. But for others, it may be about tears, confusion and heartbreak.

For a parent, Valentine’s Day may be the only opportunity you can get to chat with your pre-teen children about crushes (a situations where, for example, a 12-year-old feels he is so much in love with the girl next-door that he will go against all odds for her.)

True, it can seem unnerving for a parent to discuss love with an 11-year old. But Steven Langa, the executive director of The Family Network says: “It is best to prepare your child for dating early. At 18 years, your child will be thinking you are old-fashioned and so would rather pick advice from friends. Yet many peer groups insist that it is only during sexual intercourse that a couple can show devotion for each other.”

So, parents use Valentine’s Day to talk to your children about love and sex. Here is how to do it:

  • “First, you must appreciate that childhood crushes are normal, harmless and even healthy,” says Paul Nyende, a community psychologist and lecturer at Makerere University.
    “They are indeed a form of role-playing that prepares children for dating and courtship,” he adds.

  • The children will need conversational ‘openings’ from you before they can talk freely about crushes. Begin by telling them how you feel about Valentine’s Day, then open up about your first crush; then share both the best and worst memories about your childhood love-life. Then the kids will freely share their ideas with you, unless you have always been harsh on them.

  • “Don’t belittle or condemn your child’s idea of romantic love,” says Langa. “such insensitivity may critically damage your relationship.” A sure put off line would be: ‘Oh come on, you are only 12. There’s plenty of time for that.’

  • You can keep the conversation going by feigning a gentle and unsuspicious curiosity. A verbatim of this kind, can go on well: “You really like Jane?… what do you like about her?” When the child goes on to say something like: “I don’t know. It is kind of weird,” then the parent may ask: “What’s weird about him?”

  • Always be ready to comfort a confused or heartbroken child. Girls who do not receive valentine’s gifts may lapse into depression and lose self-esteem. But a parent has to show the child that valentine’s gifts are not a measure of ones self-worth or popularity.

  • Find a way of showing your children that love means so much more than a red rose and dinner.
    “Everyone grows up imitating whatever they have seen their parents doing,” says Nyende. “If daddy and mummy have always celebrated Valentine’s Day by exchanging expensive gifts and staying out till late, it is likely that the children will want to do the same,” he says.

  • Tell them about how our society sells sex, and how advertisers use it to market their Valentine’s Day products. Teach your children how to avoid being taken in by those messages.

  • However, deep this chat may go, you still don’t have intentions of shoving your 12-year olds into a romantic relationship.


  • So, you should not let them go out independently on Valentine’s night, say to the cinema. Rather, if your daughter insists that she wants to spend the day with her boyfriend (read: crush), Langa recommends that you invite the boy and his parents over to your home.

    Advise kids on Valentine’s Day

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