The Dark Side of Valentine's Day

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 3.18.16 PMHere at Choices, we see Valentine's Day as an important time to reflect on our relationships with one another and explore the different ways of expressing our love and celebrating the holiday.

We encourage you and your teens to consider some alternative ways to celebrate the holiday. We wrote a post on’s Love Letters campaign, which encourages teens to make a DIY valentine with three facts about themselves inside. Once the card is received, Meals on Wheels will give it to an older adult during their deliveries. Our Friday Faves post this week also included a webpage that shared many wonderful, alternative Valentine's Day ideas to give back. Try working at a soup kitchen or sending flowers to someone who isn't expecting them. It's sure to brighten a day.

It is important to remember, however, the darker side of many relationships--the side that's harder to see and even more difficult to understand. In the February issue of Choices, we zoom in on the complex and shady subject of dating abuse. I use the word "shady" to describe it, because it isn't a black and white issue and not as easy to interpret or understand as we may wish or think. Many relationships begin beautifully--they are mutually satisfying, fulfilling and make both parties happy. But, as time goes in, it is important to continue to evaluate our relationships, and make sure they continue to stay healthy.

Every year, as many as one in three teens experience dating abuse. It comes in many forms (verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual) and it is extraordinarily important to discuss warning signs with our teens so they can recognize it. We explain clear signs in the article and point to resources from which to seek help if your teen feels like they are in an abusive relationship or see it happening amongst peers. Valentine's Day is a wonderful opportunity to reflect with your teen on their relationships and make sure that they continue to be a source of mutual support and love.