by Scott Ellis

Simple ways to help your son survive Valentine’s Day

Portrait of a teenage boy smiling at the camera. He is outdoors and wearing casual clothing.

It’s a rock song, it’s a cliché and if you’re a boy facing Valentine’s Day it’s a terrifying truth – love is a battlefield.

And at this time of year, more than ever, there’s a real chance that anyone taking their first steps into a relationship can wind up one of the walking wounded.

So what’s the best way to help your son navigate February 14?

The key, say the experts, is common sense, respect and maybe taking a step back on the day when expectations are highest.

“Treat it like any other day,”

Sally-Anne McCormack, counsellor

For starters, it’s just common sense for a boy to find out if the person they plan to send a card to even wants to receive it.

Advise them to show them respect with their message – and respect that not everyone they like, will like them back.

 “It’s a lovely thing to do to let someone know you think they’re great even if they don’t reciprocate those feelings,” said psychologist Rhea Stein. “That’s a very positive thing to put into the world.”

And just remind your son that a lot of the pressure they’re feeling is just a marketing ploy.

Valentine’s Day is an enormous industry – Australians will spend close to one billion dollars celebrating the moment this year* – geared to making everyone think this is the time to make a grand statement.

But the reality is for many it’s not.

“Treat it like any other day”, says Sally-Anne McCormack

“Encourage them to talk to (the person they like), or text them or send a message on social media by all means, but make it the same as they would any other time of the year.

“Valentine’s Day is really a day for people who already have established or implied relationships. Sending a card or gift to someone you think you might like? There really is potential of that back firing.”

So the best advice for celebrating Valentine’s Day? If they’re not already in a relationship, get them to take a breath and wait a few days.

Encourage them to share a smile. Say hello. Actually talk to whoever has caught their eye and see what they like, what they think and if they’re as good a match as they thought.

You might help him save himself some embarrassment – and at the very least the cost of a stamp.

Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School, Melbourne. 

Scott Ellis is a senior journalist and has worked through the full range of Australian media. He has two young sons. This article is about