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The Valentine's Day Loser

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Here's how to help your child cope with receiving fewer valentines than others.

Sad girl looking at valentine's card

Dr. Wendy Walsh: In elementary school, the ritual has evolved into a race by mothers to purchase enough valentines for the entire class and force a young hand to inscribe them all. I should tell you at this point that I have never done the above. If my kids want to give a card, they make one themselves. If not, then no biggie. The popular mass-distribution method is simply too much work for me -- and too much bowing to a Hallmark holiday that holds little meaning in my life. However, there are mothers who take this valentine business very seriously. And my children's homemade valentines are eclipsed by the cute professionally printed cards and goodie bags filled with chocolates and toys.

I am grateful to you moms who have your s--t together. But you should know that since my kids make their own, they usually lose steam by the tenth one -- and their not-so-close friends get the short end of the deal. So blame me if your kid is the one who receives not-so- many valentine cards.

Now, let me put on my Doctor of Psychology hat and give you a few pointers on how assuage the injuries my children may unknowingly inflict:

First, know that every emotional experience is a teaching opportunity and a gift. A childhood free from disappointments will leave our kids seriously lacking in coping skills. As with any feeling of sadness or loss, your first line of defense is empathy. Acknowledge and validate the sad feelings. Don't say, "Cheer up! It's only a stupid valentine card." Instead, you might try something like, "Wow. That's a hard feeling to have. Come snuggle with me, my little valentine, and let's talk about it." Then, while you attempt to just sit with your child and understand more about his or her feelings, resist the urge to fix this problem. This isn't the time for a mini-lecture on how to be a better friend or to suit up as protector-Mom and promise to annihilate the enemy kids.

This is a time to soothe, console and remind your child of how lovable he or she is. In my case, I might also use my cynical self to devalue the whole concept of Valentine's Day, but that's me and my bias. As I write this, I stopped to ask my 6-year-old what she would like me to do if she should get only a few valentine cards. In perfect childhood genius, she said, "If I get no valentines, then you need to get me a lot more playdates." Got it, kid. Whip up a social life, Mom.

next: Happy Birthday, Judy Blume
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jerri February 12, 2010, 5:04 AM

It was $3 for a box of 30 cards that came with a sucker, it took my 7year old about 30mins to write her name and the names of the childern in her class. I don’t think that means I have my s#@% together, and I don’t think it was that hard for her to make a card for a kid that spent the same amount of time to make one for her, even if they aren’t good friends.

Aprilcot26 February 12, 2010, 6:18 AM

Many teachers won’t let students pass out Valentines unless they have enough for the whole class.

lisaw February 12, 2010, 6:37 AM

I’m a teacher. I tell my students if they don’t want to give out Valentine’s the to whole class its okay, but then they will hand them out before school or after school. If they wish to distribute them in class they must have enough for everyone. Its very easy for Valentine’s to become a chance to hurt others feelings or deliberately leave a classmate out. Homemade Valentine’s are great, but my students who give them out still manage to make enough for everyone. While receiving fewer Valentine’s is a teachable moment; reminding your child to make all their Valentine’s so they will not exclude others or hurt anyones feeling is also a teachable moment.

kjo February 12, 2010, 7:24 AM

The Valentines Day Loser. Nice. This must be a reference to the writers own offspring. Surely she is not assuming it the ‘unfortunate’ child who is not ‘worthy’ of her precious princesses time and effort and/or the parents precious pocket change. Mean people raise mean people.

Krista February 12, 2010, 7:37 AM

Everyone in class should have enough for everyone or not get to hand them out at all.

SAHD's Wife February 12, 2010, 7:42 AM

I’ve come to the conclusion that you must be lying about your credentials. You’re a Doctor of Psychology?

How about teaching your girls a little empathy? A little - put yourself in the other child’s shoes? My kids have made their own (cute little shovels that say “I dig you” with candy bags twist-tied on) and picked out their newest favorite character or interest (This year, Up, Dogs and Cats and Star War). We have a rule - one for everyone in the class, and hand deliver special ones - like the best friend candy each of my kids got for their best friends.

From your blogs, I now know: You are afraid all men are sexual perverts out to molest your daughter or hit on you. You can’t bother to teach your daughters to think of someone else’s feelings if it takes an extra 30 minutes. You rely on broad generalizations and inaccuracies to make points. I enjoy reading your entries - if for no other reason than to see the thought process of those parents who have me constantly shaking my head wondering WHAT THE HELL THEIR THINKING.

LeeLee February 12, 2010, 12:03 PM

OK - I get it. Sort of. I am a working Mom too, and these things do take time. However, I do believe it is not much more effort to include all the kids in class. We buy the valentine’s from the store. It takes two seconds to make labels on the computer that say “Happy Valentine’s Day From Bobby”. Apply sticker. Add a sweetart if you want. Done. We even make extra so he can hand them out to friends outside of his class. Really Pyschology Mom - it’s only once a year.

just sayin February 12, 2010, 12:37 PM

Sorry, but if you don’t have enough for the whole class then you shouldn’t being doing it at all. I agree with SAHD, for a so-called professional psychologist you have a very odd thought process. You always sound so full of yourself and selfish. Maybe you need to speak to a professional yourself.

suburbangranola February 14, 2010, 1:16 PM

This is totally lame. If your kid measures his or her self worth by the amount of Valentine’s they receive, than you’ve got much bigger issues to worry about.
And why should kids have to make (or parents have to buy) Valentine’s for every kid in the class? Why would they want to give a Valentine to that brat who sits behind them and kicks their seat all day or spits in their hair, or that kid who makes fun of her clothes, hair, freckles, glasses..? So they won’t feel bad!? Give me a break.

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