Love is in the air

If you are exposed to any form of media and marketing, you may be in on the fact that February is a time when love is in the air. In my local grocery store there is an inflatable fountain surrounded by chocolate piles, shades of pink, and bears. Our local public radio affiliate is raising money with roses, and jewelry commercials are vying to enchant with sparkle. These are the signs directing consumers to share the love with wallet in tow. It’s all got me thinking.

I’m by no means a Valentine’s Day scrooge. Chocolate, bring it on. I won’t turn down a card any time of year, and I honestly enjoy holidays, festiveness and anything themed (hellooo, SAAM!). But I do find myself reflecting on our culture, and its messages of love. If an alien population gains interest in the lifestyle of earthlings, what would the evidence in television, news feeds and headlines lead them to believe about our definition of love? Just like the gap in our knowledge and understanding of healthy sexuality, where are the examples of healthy love?

February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. I don’t know about you, but I have some awesome teens in my life. I want them all to know this campaign’s definition of love: Love is respect.

These young people inspire me as they live through the questions and learning that help us to grow. As much as I feel just a half-step away from this process myself, I’m reminded that there are new and greater challenges facing the youth of today. There’s a lot of chatter out there drowning out positive messages, and I’m not sure how many of them are being reached by the idea that love is respect.

I think it would be easier for teens to grasp that love is respect if it is something they see modeled. If you are a parent or caring adult, you can be a model of what respect and support look like. For starters, we can show respect for the teens in our life, valuing their input and voice. There are many ways to be a resource, and it could be as easy as talking with teens about healthy sexuality or being a listening ear to their questions. It can also look like advocating for safer environments and positive messages, and the big ideas from the SAAM 2013 campaign apply to youth and other adults too.

Also, I can’t talk about February, love and change without plugging the awesome project: One Billion Rising. On V-Day (February 14), this campaign invites ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to violence against women. I’m so excited to join in Harrisburg Rising, one of many local opportunities to join together and rise.

How do you plan on celebrating love this month?