A Parent’s Guide to Valentine’s Day for Kids

It’s easy for Valentine’s Day to begin and end with consumerism and gifts. But the history of Valentine’s Day combined with its connection to Christianity provides a foundation for important conversation with your kids. Explore our Bible Lesson involving God’s perspective on love to help your kids positively approach this holiday.

At a glance, Valentine’s Day and its widespread fanfare arrive at the beginning of February and conclude in less than two weeks. However, the holiday often leaves a deeper impact than we may realize, especially as our culture stretches the topic of love down to our children. Appropriately navigating Valentine’s Day for our kids involves conversations about relationships, love, and the portrayal of both within our culture. 

Valentine’s Day and Consumerism

As dozens of Valentine’s Day themed movies and videos for families, couples, and kids roll out with tales of young love sprinkled with movie magic, it’s wise to be cautious of what may be below the holiday’s surface.

Amid these marketing and media strategies, there are a variety of definitions concerning love, relationships, and marriage that spread throughout our culture.

For our kids, it’s worth considering how culture emphasizes a day like Valentine’s Day. Lessons involving dating relationships and how to communicate love or care, can either establish a positive model or create negative examples of behavior and expectations within a relationship. 

Hidden Purpose of Valentine’s Day

It’s no secret that Valentine’s Day strongly emphasizes the power of love. Whether it’s the cultural messages of dating and relationships or peers planning the best Valentine’s Day surprise, our kids feel the pressure to outdo one another in demonstrating their affection and love.

However, from the Christian point of view, love and relationships are both summed up in a single biblical principle – the permanence of marriage.  

From the very first creation of human relationships, God emphasized the importance of marriage. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” A desire for connection and value exists at the core of a holiday like Valentine’s Day.

It’s important to teach our kids that even though the Valentine’s Day provides healthy ways to express affection for others, there is a deeper meaning behind those feelings and gifts. God’s perspective and design for love promises a lasting relationship built on commitment, trust, and respect.

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History of Valentine’s Day for Kids

Despite our culture’s dramatic requirements of modern romance, Valentine’s Day actually has roots within Christian history. Help your kids understand the generational impact of one man’s decision to honor God’s design for all of creation.

Valentine’s Day’s rich history involves religion, imprisonment, and foggy details including star-crossed love. Historical records show that around 268 A.D. Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriage throughout the region. His reasoning? In Claudius’s mind, men who weren’t married made better soldiers in war.

A local Roman priest thought otherwise. The priest’s name was Valentine, and he decided to break the rules. Performing hidden marriages involving quiet ceremonies and unspoken locations, Valentine eluded the Roman government for a while. But he was eventually caught and imprisoned.

According to a combination of legend and historical accounts, Valentine quickly formed a relationship with his jailer’s daughter. Legend says that the night before Valentine was scheduled for execution, he wrote a final note to the daughter and signed it as, “Your Valentine”. Other historical accounts describe a more platonic friendship between the two. Whether Valentine and the jailer’s daughter were lovers or friends, there was clearly a connection. But it didn’t last for very long. On the next morning, the emperor executed Valentine. However, his legend carries on throughout history giving way to the modern holiday we celebrate today.

A few centuries later, the Roman Catholic Church declared the day of Valentine’s death as St. Valentine’s Day, which paved the way for later Middle Age celebrations of love and marriage. Eventually, the holiday continued to morph into the modern global celebration affection and love we experience today.

Adventures in Odyssey Valentine’s Day Episode

As is common with ancient historical records, many of the details surrounding St. Valentine’s life and eventual death remain uncertain. Outside of his execution and romantic involvement within prison, little is known about the priest who disobeyed government to continue to perform marriages.

Here at Focus on the Family, our radio program Adventures in Odyssey re-imagines St. Valentine’s tale in a riveting retelling of love and espionage. You can listen here to discover St. Valentine’s experiences and commitment to his beliefs.

Children’s Bible Lesson for Valentine’s Day

Even though it’s impossible to fully know St. Valentine’s motivations behind his decisions, there’s a strong indication that his convictions were rooted in something stronger than simple Valentine’s Day affection.

As a priest, Valentine was likely familiar with some relevant teachings on love and the importance of marriage. When reading the Bible, it doesn’t take long to see God’s emphasis upon love and its impact within our relationships.

As you approach Valentine’s Day for your kids this year, consider using these sections from the Bible to teach your kids about God’s design for love.

Opening Questions

As you approach this lesson or conversation with your kids, consider their age and understanding of Valentine’s Day. Think about what context you might need to provide to help them understand the importance of relationships, love, and showing affection.

Begin with asking your kids a fun question:

  • What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day candy?
  • Why do you think people celebrate Valentine’s Day?
  • What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day memory?
  • What do you love most about your friends, parents, or siblings?

Bible Verses on Valentine’s Day for Kids

Read the following passages out loud with your kids:

  • Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. [Love] does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; [Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease…for knowledge, it will pass away.”

Depending on your children’s age, consider stopping after every two to three verses to ask them an engaging question.

Discussion Questions

For the Galatians passage, use these questions in conversations with your kids:

  • What is fruit of the spirit?
  • Why are they important?
  • Do you think you have any of the fruit of the spirit?
  • If so, which ones are strengths / which ones are weaknesses?

For the Corinthians passage, use these questions in conversations with your kids:

  • How is love described?
  • What did you learn about God’s love?
  • What would life look like without God’s love?

To continue the conversation consider asking questions focused on how our culture and media portray topics such as love, dating, and relationships.

  • Do you see any differences between the world’s definition of love and God’s?
  • Where do you learn the most about dating and relationships?
  • Do you believe in “true love?” Why or why not?
  • Why does valuing love and your commitment to someone matter?

Final Thoughts on Valentine’s Day for Kids

Make no mistake, Valentine’s Day can certainly be a wonderful holiday with lasting memories and celebrations. To get the most out of the holiday, your family can focus on God’s perspective for all things love-related. For your kids, especially teens, consider how the larger issues of love and finding a boyfriend or girlfriend eventually impact their marriage and relationships for the rest of their lives. Continue to emphasize that a relationship focused on service and obedience to God cultivates a lasting connection better than a box of chocolate or the perfect flower delivery ever could.   

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