Valentine’s Day is approaching. Yes, we’ll soon be celebrating the most beloved and hated holiday in all of tween- and teen-dom. During adolescence, February 14 seems to become THE DAY when your friends, crushes, and relationships prove their love for you. Unlike elementary classrooms, middle schools don’t mandate cards and candy for everyone.
I still remember being in high school and buying a carnation for your favorite people for $1. My palms would sweat every year, hoping someone remembered me while staring at the girl who had 50 flowers. They still hold this same practice at my own kids’ high school, and it’s still a discussion every year.
Yes, some people say Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday, placed on the calendar by Hallmark. But that doesn’t lessen the emotional attachment for many adolescents. This leaves some kids flying with euphoria, while others silently cry themselves to sleep. I’d love to say a larger population of preteens and teens “don’t care.” But even if they claim they don’t, well, they do.
As youth pastors, what should we do, if anything, on this day of hearts and flowers? Should we acknowledge February 14 or let it slide by unnoticed? Consider the following tips…
5 Valentine’s Day Do’s and Don’ts
1. Don’t be cliché.
This doesn’t have to be the only day you talk about love, sex, or relationships. It’s not the only week you should teach about all things love, and how kids don’t need a boyfriend or girlfriend because they have Jesus. Students expect it. Leave it there.
Certainly you can approach the conversation on Valentine’s Day. But it becomes cliché if that’s the only time you approach these topics.
2. Do use Valentine’s Day to remind students where their identity lies.
Kids need constant reminders about where their identity lies. It is stripped down and broken apart daily as they interact with social media, other people, and media in general. Now for “V-DAY,” they feel like they should be lovable by someone, anyone.
Find creative ways to let kids know Jesus genuinely always loves them, just because he made them in his image.
3. Don’t be creepy.
Please avoid sending notes and flowers from you alone to just the girls in the youth group. First, that sends strange mixed signals on so many levels. If you’re a guy leader, it’s creepy. I know you don’t mean it that way. But as a mom of three young women, I’d ask lots of questions if my girls brought a Valentine’s Day rose home with a personalized note from their youth pastor. It’s just too easy to send mixed signals that way.
4. Do be creative.
If you give something out in honor of showing students they are loved, make sure there’s one for everyone. Any notes should be signed by you and all the leaders. Don’t be afraid to get creative with games or a collage made out of candy. You don’t need to ignore the day or go overboard in acknowledging it.
Instead, think outside the box. Find unique ways to let students know that first, Christ loves them. Second, your whole team thinks they’re incredible. Try something you’ve never done before.