I told my husband to not get me anything for Valentine's Day. He was overly generous last year and I said that we should amortize that gift over a few years. I took it a step farther a few weeks ago and said that we really didn't need to do anything for the holiday. Maybe the brutally cold winter froze my heart, but I just wasn't feeling Valentine's Day this year.
Then I changed my mind.
I told my husband that he was welcome to get me a card, maybe flowers or chocolate or something else small if he felt so moved. I'd do the same with him and I also made a conscious decision to flirt like mad with my husband on Valentine's Day.
I changed my mind because I talked with Jo Langford, a therapist and teen sex educator in Seattle, who told me that kids today have no idea how to flirt.
He explained that the idea of wooing someone in whom they have a romantic interest is pretty foreign to kids who are exposed more and more to increasing displays of overt sexuality (and less to the nuances of developing relationships).
Then I remembered that in researching apps and online safety, I've seen several pieces lamenting the lack of dating on college campus because students use apps like Tinder to connect with (photos of) people to whom they feel a physical attraction.
That is trickling down to high schoolers. They live a large portion of their lives online and are seriously overscheduled, leaving precious little time for, or interest in, old-school teenage pursuits like flirting in person.
Add to that a need for instant gratification and kids these days aren't flirting, they're just clicking "like" on photos or worse, sexting.
Sadly, some misguided boys and girls think sending photos of their private parts is a way to express interest in someone.
Do I think that my husband bringing me flowers and a card on Valentine's Day or me leaving him a little surprise or breaking out our wedding playlist for music during family dinner tonight will prevent my kid from sexting?
Nope. Sadly, I don't.
But I do think that witnessing such acts will help give her some idea that those gestures are some of the many options available to her when it comes to showing love and affection. I want her to know that people who like each other can share their feelings in ways that are socially appropriate. I'm going to do some fun things based on a few of our inside jokes both as a couple and a family. She should see that showing someone you "like them like them" can be so very fun.
I also know that me flirting with my husband and vice versa will be either ignored or met with a disgusted "eeewwwwww" from my tween. That's what happened yesterday, anyway, when my husband paid me a compliment and gave me a hug. And that's okay. She doesn't have to like it, she just needs to observe it.
I have to say that my plan melted my cold heart a bit, too.
I'm all about feeling the love this Valentine's Day and I'm hoping that someday far, far into the future (I'm talking really far) that my daughter will have someone who does the little romantic (and appropriate) things that make her feel loved, too.
Although she’d like to be taller and have more time to dive into good books, Shannan is awfully happy with her life in the western suburbs, where she moved after a decade of living on the north side of the city. She blogs about parenting a tween at Tween Us on ChicagoNow and at Families in the Loop.
See more of Shannan 's stories here.