It’s no surprise to me that our youth can feel unsupported and unloved.
In fact, coming off the week of Valentine’s, I shared in a moment that on the outside may not appear to have much of an impact or affect. However, if explored further, it’s clear that the lasting impression can cause more harm.
I was visiting with a good friend of mine and we were agreeing about our mutual dislike of Valentine’s Day and the connotations that it implies. It happened that our discussion was the day after and his young daughter had experienced quite a bit of heartbreak on the day that is seemingly saved for love.
He shared that when his daughter had arrived home after school that day, she was visibly shaken and distraught. Again, this is the day that we spend so much time, energy and money (over 16 billion in the U.S. alone) just to make sure people feel love. However, there are no rules how you express your love or with whom you choose to express it.
As he inquired about what had happened, she told him that Samantha* had received 13 valentine’s in school and she received none.
None. Zero. Ziltch. Nada.
Not even one single valentine was saved for her on this day of LOVE.
I imagine the heartbreak she must have been experiencing as she shared her valentine’s in class, waiting anxiously in anticipation to see what she might receive in return.
As she came back to see her gifts, she returned to an empty desk. All the while, she found out that Samantha (who, I’m told is a very kind girl) was given 13!
In that moment of realization, my friends daughter, Kate* knew her worth. It didn’t matter that her dad had spent years ‘making sure she knew her worth’. It didn’t matter that her mom hugged and kissed her every day since the day she was born. It didn’t matter that Grandma and Grandpa know that she is stellar. In fact, 10 years of people telling her how amazing she is had no effect on her whatsoever.
What mattered, in that moment is that Samantha had 13 and she had none. In a split second Kate realized that no one thought of her the way she thought of them. In her mind, she wasn’t important enough to be given a valentine. In that moment all of the wonderful things she’d been told over the years were undone. Like a damn being broken open, in came flowing the doubt, lack, fear, sadness, and questioning.
As parents, we do the best we can all of the time. My friend is an incredible parent and he shows kindness, compassion and love to his daughter. He makes sure she knows he’d proud of her.
Our children are susceptible to the same programming that we believe. If we believe that our value lies in what we receive for Valentine’s Day, and it isn’t given to us or shown to us in a way that makes sense, then our value of ourself diminishes.
We are taught every day that our worth is outside of ourselves and although parents do a great job, society is much louder.
Is there hope? Absolutely. There are things we can and need to do for ourselves, our parents, our children, everyone that we come in contact with.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore some of the steps we can take to foster the worth from within rather than waiting on the outside.
In the meantime, what do you think we can do to support this growth?
*of course for privacy reasons, the two names have been changed.