10/02/2016 12:50 GMT | Updated 10/02/2017 05:12 GMT

When Did Valentine's Day Become a Family Day?

I fear I'm in the minority, but I find a little girl giving her daddy a Valentine's card a bit creepy.

This week playgroups, preschools, and nurseries across the globe will be having their usual themed crafts, which in all likelihood will involve making Valentine's Day cards. I didn't think much of it when I first saw them. I figured these cards would be given to the parent who wasn't there, from their partner who was.

Contrary to my assumption, at the playgroups I went to many children (well, only girls) were being encouraged by mothers to make cards for their fathers. I didn't get my daughter to make one, but then she brought me one home from nursery. While I love anything she makes for me, the fact remains that getting a Valentine's Day card from my daughter makes my skin crawl a little, and I wish this wasn't now a thing - that Valentine's Day is now a day for the family.

For me, Valentine's Day is one of two things. It is either a cynical marketing opportunity to sell themed cards, chocolates, lingerie, and even ready meals ('Give your Valentine a night off cooking with a special Macaroni Cheese'). Or it's a day to celebrate love with your partner, a partner to be, or just a good old fashioned secret admirer.

So I have always seen Valentine's Day is a time for lovers (and a time for retailers to exploit that love), not as a time for parents and children to express their very different love for each other.

There is an argument against children 'celebrating' Valentine's Day because it's asking them to grow up too soon. I don't agree with that, as role playing adult scenarios is an important part of our children's development. The desire for a partner, who is more than a friend, is an important concept for them to understand. It's how they came to be after all.

I also remember getting cards as a child from secret admirers who I still have no idea about. It almost remains my purest experience of the day. Who's heart wouldn't be sent aflutter with a note from a secret admirer? Valentine's Day is a day for love, but romantic love, which is to say that heady, intoxicating combination of love and desire.

I read arguments of 'Oh, it's just a love day, for all love', and I appreciate that this day like many others is open to interpretation. For instance, I celebrate Christmas but it has nothing to do with christian worship for me.

As far as I'm concerned, every day should be a love day when it comes to how you relate to your child, who should never doubt that you love them.

But that is not the same love I have for her mother, and I want our daughter to understand there's a difference.

It's also one of the reasons why we don't kiss out daughter on the lips. That's a special kiss between mummy and daddy only, because we have a different kind of relationship than with anyone else.

It's not better, it's not lesser. It's just different, and exclusively ours.


This is a revised version of an article previously posted on Man vs. Pink. Please join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.


Photo gallery See Gallery