Parenting

Why we don’t hand out Valentine's Day cards at school

Be kind everyday, not just on Valentine's Day, is the lesson Jennifer is teaching her son by not sending classroom cards.

I don’t like Valentine’s Day — if you read my Valentine’s post from last year, you will see why. But it’s not just Valentine’s Day. I’m an equal-opportunity grouch when it comes to all manufactured holidays — even that pesky Tooth Fairy drives me nuts because of the tradition of parents buying their children stuff just for the sake of buying stuff.

But it is Valentine’s Day, with its forced hugs and kisses and candy, that particularly gets my back up. For the past two years I’ve scrambled to buy gender neutral Valentine’s Day classroom cards only to fight with my son to neatly print the names of all of his classmates (even the ones he doesn’t get along with). This year, I felt extra-pressured to come up with something clever — darn you, Pinterest! But as I stood in the Valentine’s aisle at the local drug store earlier this week trying to read the ingredient listing on a package of lollipops I decided I’d had enough.

I decided that I would not send Valentine’s Day cards to school with my grade one son to exchange with his friends.

After I announced on Facebook that Valentine’s Day 2013 was actually just Thursday, February 14 — making my decision to not send in the traditional classroom cards final — a few friends thought it was a good idea. Of those who agreed, it was because they didn’t like the large amount of candy sent into the classrooms. Or, in the case of my friend Allison, trying to explain to her grade two daughter why she had to write a card to her “frenemy” was a challenge.

Overwhelmingly, parents love the idea of Valentine’s Day cards, seeing it as an opportunity for their children to practice their printing and handwriting and to show kindness to their classmates. It wasn’t enough to make me change my mind, however. So, after letting our son know that we wouldn’t be writing cards together (and, no, he wasn’t upset), I asked his teacher if she minded if I brought in fresh fruit and vegetables in lieu of sending cards and she’s totally onboard with my idea.

Don’t get me wrong — having children be thoughtful and nice to each other is important and my son genuinely likes all of his classmates. But what I’d rather see are children actively improving the lives of their friends and the world around them — all year round, not just on a random day in February.

Did you send Valentine’s Day cards to school with your children today?

Photo by Brandice Schnabel via Flickr.

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