My Funny Valentine Problem: Should All Classmates Receive a Valentine?

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and at schools across the country, the excitement has set in. The thrill of giving and receiving Valentine’s cards to and from friends, teachers and perhaps that special someone is felt by students and teachers alike.

The Valentine’s Day ritual starts early as Preschool and Kindergarten kids receive class lists with names of all of the children in the hopes that everyone is included in the festivities.

Of course, when children are this small, it’s really important to teach them lessons about inclusion, feelings and “doing the right thing.” In other words, even if there are some potential Valentines who may be less-liked than others, they too should receive a card, in the spirit of the occasion…I guess.

Not to be a party pooper, but should we really be taking this tact? After all, we as parents do our best to prepare our children about life in the real world. This real world includes having to deal with people you don’t like and, when you’re an adult, you generally don’t pass along objects of endearment such as Valentines Day cards to those that are less-than-desirable from your point of view.

I remember public school (in the later grades), Valentines Day and who got the most cards, and who received the least. It was a joyous day for some, a painful for others. The simple solution would be to make sure that everyone gets a Valentines Day card from everyone, wouldn’t it? Yet in the higher grades where the kids are more aware, it likely wouldn’t work as they are…well…more aware.

The facade of etiquette and politeness would be quickly dashed as receiving a card or gift from one’s nemesis would hardly ring true. A heartfelt declaration of feelings that don’t exist would be called out in an instant, if not by the recipient themselves, then by their peers. You can’t pull the rug over the eyes of kids very easily these days.Now, I understand the rationale behind why the “class list” distribution is provided to young children’s parents before Valentines Day, and I do plan on giving out cards to each and every one of my twin boys’ classmates. That being said, one has to wonder about the precedent that this behavior is setting in light of the fact that the name of each and every one of a child’s classmates is not usually provided in the upper grades. In other words, are we putting blinders on and delaying the inevitable reality that at some point, older kids will have to realize that they may not be as well liked – and hence, less likely to receive Valentines cards – than others? Who determines at what age it is appropriate that some classmates will be shunned, while others bask in the glory of the numerous cards, gifts and candy that they have received?

For that reason, perhaps we as parents should collectively decide to lay it on the line earlier than later in our children’s lives. Maybe it’s not too early to teach our children that yes, it is very kind and polite to try to be inclusive at the risk of hurting each other’s feelings but not at any cost. If the bully who’s been making your life miserable is without a Valentines Day card on February 14th, hey – that’s okay. Similarly, your child may be in the position of being the one who is not on the receiving end of a Valentine for one reason or another. If this is the case, the dearth of red and pink offerings may be a starting point for a discussion on why such items were not forthcoming. Sometimes the most memorable and valuable lessons are, sadly, the ones that are also the most difficult.

What do you think? Should your child give Valentines Day cards to all of their classmates? If so, what grade should this end, if at all?

VIDEO – My Funny Valentine – Ella Fitzgerald


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