The Character Movement

A Letter About Love to My Son on Valentine’s Day

This post was written by Jess Larson, Communications and Marketing Manager for Youth Frontiers. Jess is married with one child and lives in Minneapolis. In her free time, she enjoys blogging about her two loves: family and food. You can read more at and

Hey My Little Buddy,

This year, you will celebrate your second-ever Valentine’s Day. When I think of a holiday like Valentine’s Day, it’s hard for me not to think of flowers and chocolates and restaurant reservations; all of the things that are the typical hallmarks (no pun intended) of this very commercialized holiday. It can be difficult not to feel the pressures of all that this holiday can seem to demand. It’s hard to ignore that sort of failing feeling that I will probably not win at Valentine’s Day this year, because I have no restaurant reservation, I forgot to buy your dad a gift and I’ll probably pick up some chocolates, as an afterthought, from Target the day before the big day. In these moments, I remind myself that you and your pure, sweet, untouched little soul, have no idea what any of these things are (okay, except for chocolates). You have not yet experienced the excitement of opening up a treasured Valentine card from someone you love. You also have not yet experienced the lonely feeling of not having a significant other on a holiday so focused on being in love.

For you, my sweet, the only thing you know of love is what you have experienced from those closest to you. It’s been mommy’s kisses or daddy’s hugs. It’s been nana’s songs or papa’s tickles. It’s been the smiles and the affirmations from those you have only just met. Or the care and the attention from aunties and uncles who adore you. How lucky I am to have you to remind me of what Valentine’s Day is really about. It is a day about love. Plain and simple. It is a day to connect with others and to remind them of how much they matter to us. It is a day to reflect on all of the individual moments and memories we have with those who have had tremendous or small but significant impact on our lives. It’s a day to be grateful for the time we have together or for the time we shared together in the past.

So, that brings me to my point here in this Valentine’s Day letter to you, my little bug – to share a few things I have learned about love. I hope that someday you will read this and try to carry these lessons with you into your own life and make them uniquely yours, as you do everything else you have encountered in your tiny and vast little life so far.

Love is for everyone. This is probably the most important thing that I want you to know. If you didn’t read anything past this true statement then you would still have heard the one thing that I want you to always believe and strive to live out. Love belongs to everyone, and everyone deserves love. Not only that, everyone deserves to be loved the way that they prefer to be loved. If you aren’t sure what they prefer, it’s ok to ask them.

Save your energy for the good stuff. This world wants us to focus a lot of our energy and attention on knowing or improving the way that others feel about us. As hard and frustrating and crappy as this can feel sometimes, the secret to all of this is that we have zero control over whether or not people love us. It is more important to focus our energy and our time on activities and people that fill our cup. Things that remind us of how wonderful the world can be. Things that reminds us that even in a time when so many voices seem to scream angry, damaging words into the void, there is also immense good and immense love.

Loving yourself matters. This point is kind of related to my previous statement, but it is so important to love yourself. Take care of yourself. Give yourself a break sometimes. Remind yourself that you are good and strong and brave and kind. Remind yourself that the world would be different if you weren’t in it. Remind yourself that you have a purpose and that you are here for a reason. It is nearly impossible to change the way that people feel about you. So focus your energy on being the best person you can be and appreciating all of your amazing qualities. And if you need help with this sometimes, you can call me.

Loving others matters. I said before that it is nearly impossible to change the way that people feel about you. That being said, the one thing that you do have control over is the way you treat others. Treating our friends and family well is easy – treating those who disagree with us, challenge us or offend us with the same love and respect is hard. When you encounter tough people, I want you to think of two things: 1) I want you to think about how you have felt inside when people have said mean things to you or left you out. Then, I want you to try as hard as you can to never be the reason why another person would feel that way. 2) I want you to think about how many stories and experiences, both good and bad have made up your life. I want you to recognize the fact that you carry those with you and that many of those stories are only known to you and to the people who experienced them with you. Then, I want you to remind yourself that everyone carries their own stories around with them and that not all of them are good. And no matter what you think you know about a person, you can never know everything that has made them the person they are. So treat people with love, kindness and compassion as often as you can, but especially when it is hard.

Stand up for love. Oh, my little bug, I want you to realize that you have a voice and that it is a strong one. You have immense power in that voice and I hope that you will choose to use it for good. I hope with all my heart that you will let love guide the way that you treat yourself and others and I also hope that you will stand up for love. Sometimes that will mean just leading by example and picking the kid who never gets picked to be on your team, then throwing that kid the ball because he deserves to play too. Sometimes it will mean letting your voice and your thoughts be heard even when it is the opposite of what the cool kids are doing. Sometimes it will mean writing a letter to your child and passing on your hopes and wishes for them and for their future world.

Happiest second Valentine’s Day, my love!


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