FRIDAY, FEB. 10: Next week retailers will be buzzing with business as loved ones look for the perfect gift or floral arrangement to express their love to someone they admire.

Restaurants will play soft music and light candles to entice romantic couples. Love will be in the air.

When we think of the word ‘love’, for many of us, thoughts are conjured up of romance and those things we sometimes categorize as ‘mushy stuff’.

Rarely is Valentine’s Day, in my experience, a time that we reflect upon the love we have for our children and our youth in general. In fact, when do we take the time to show our young people that we love them anyway? What examples of love do they have to follow?

Depending on the age of the young person, the very sound of the word ‘love’ will spark a reaction. The very young squint their eyes and scowl and think it’s ‘yucky’. They just don’t want to talk about it. 

Adolescents confuse it with sex and some image of romance that they’ve learned from their peers and on television. Teens are reminded of their fuzzy emotions as they meander their way through relationships with those of the opposite sex.

What exactly is love? One of many sources I searched defined love as “a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend”.

If this is true, is it possible to detach the meaning of love as the youth know it from its romantic and sexual connotations? Is it possible to teach our children how to love by simply teaching them how to care for others first and foremost?

I believe that if we can help our young people to respect and appreciate others just for who they are, to value other humans, then the level or intensity of their love for those to whom they become closest as they get older will develop accordingly – and in a healthy way.

Thus, they will grasp the full meaning of the words, “I love you.” They will also discern the difference between the ‘mushy’ emotions, the uncomfortable feelings and those that are genuine.

Young people can feel or sense when adults love them. They may not always show their appreciation for it but they learn through behaviours shown toward them who ‘has their back’ when they need support the most.

Contrary to popular belief, showering young people with material things gives them a false sense of love and a firm sense of selfishness. They must not confuse an adult’s love for them with gifts that are meant to make them feel happy in return.

As adults, sometimes tough love has to be exercised — the concept whereby consequences are administered in a harsher than normal fashion to reinforce the point to the young person that says, “I love you enough to make a hard decision for your own benefit — which you may not necessarily appreciate now, but you will later in life.” 

Young people also need to hear the words, “I love you” on a regular basis. With adults as their models, young people will learn to love. If we want our young people to behave with love we must first teach them how to love.  Let’s remember to show our love to our children on Valentine’s Day and every day.

 

Shawnette Somner is the host of Generations, which airs on DeFontes’ Broadcasting Company’s 1450AM Gold, 7.30-9pm every Monday. E-mail generations4youth@yahoo.com. Call in live during the show on 295-1450. The topic on Monday, February 13: Love for parents. Love for our children.