Valentine’s Day is over and the stores are selling all the leftover chocolate for half off. Or 75% off, whichever. I’m writing this post in the aftermath of the holiday because for one, I have pictures to share and two, I want to talk about how parents influence their kids, even when they don’t mean to. My Valentine’s Day cynicism is the perfect example of that.
For any of you who read my blog and have read my past posts on Valentine’s Day I am a bit of a cynic. It’s not that I don’t believe in love (though my thoughts on that are quite complicated) but that Valentine’s Day puts too much pressure on couples, especially married couples with kids. However, around Valentine’s Day I get a bit extra cynical and it has affected my boys. Because of them I have learned to curb my Valentine’s Day cynicism.
For the past few years I have verbally expressed my dislike for Valentine’s Day and romance. I did this without realizing that young ears were listening and young minds were being influenced by their mama’s negative opinions. My Valentine’s Day cynicism was rubbing off on my favorite and most precious people on the planet.
Take Adam for instance. He loves celebrating all holidays. Or at the very least getting excited about them and making everyone aware of said holiday. Hanukkah is one such day. We don’t celebrate this holiday but rest assured that Adam makes it known when it arrives every year. His knack for knowing these things is incredible to me. Even smaller days that most people don’t even know exist. So when Valentine’s Day comes around he wants to celebrate with as much enthusiasm as we do with Christmas and Halloween.
Only one problem with that. He heard me tell someone else how much I dislike the holiday so now every year he gets upset and has adopted the same attitude towards it. My Valentine’s Day cynicism rubbed off on my sweet, funny, happy-go-lucky boy.
Have you ever said things to someone else that you never intended for your kids to hear but they heard it anyway? Yeah, it’s happened to me. This goes beyond Valentine’s Day though. I have developed a very negative outlook on romantic relationships and love. I have been a bit more outspoken about it than I probably should have considering little ears were listening.
This is Conner. He swears up and down he will never get married and never fall in love. Now anyone reading this is probably thinking he’s just a kid and doesn’t know yet. You’re right. He is just a kid but I see in some of his mannerisms and remarks he makes that make me aware of my mistake. Both his father and I have repeatedly said over the past 6 years that we will never remarry.
Over the years he has developed the same attitude and I don’t like it. Not one bit. While I understand as a parent I do have the most influence over my kids, I also encourage them to find their own way. Their dad and I both encourage our boys to have their own opinions and beliefs. But here I am with a child who sees something he barely understands the same way I do. It’s not fair to him. I don’t want my boy to go out into the world with this cynicism about love and relationships.
So My ex and I had a conversation about this and we thought, “Hey, why not turn this day into a fun family day?” We both decided in order to change our children’s way of thinking about this holiday and about love and relationships, the best way to start would be Valentine’s Day.
We are in agreement that yes, we are both products of divorce and we were never really shown what a healthy relationship looks like. We know that while our marriage failed we have worked very hard to have a healthy co-parent relationship and friendship. We also agree that just because we aren’t together doesn’t mean we’ve doomed our kids to a lifetime of negative relationships.
So to fight our own Valentine’s Day cynicism and to help fight for our kids, we planned a fun night with our boys. I made them cupcakes and chocolate gift bags with their favorite candy inside. Then we took the boys to this new arcade that just opened up at the mall.
As it turns out Valentine’s Day wasn’t so bad after all. It all depends on how you choose to celebrate it (or not). We didn’t need a whole bunch of extravagant gestures. All we needed was an evening at the arcade then we ordered some take out afterwards. It was a great night for all of us!
What do you think about how much influence you have over your kids? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks so much for reading!
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