It is that time of year again! With the very mention of "February", romantic movies go on the market, flower shops start advertising specials and valentines begin popping up in the local drugstores. Chalky candy hearts dominate the aisles, usually sandwiched between a three pound bar of chocolate and a stuffed gorilla, which more often than not holds a heart stating "Let's monkey around". Despite the rampant commercialism of Valentines Day, there is a definite sweetness in the air, a desire for pink and red, well, everything, and a new hope for love.

If you are the parent of a home schooled teenager, this might be a hard time of year for you. Do the sounds of "Mom, I'm never going to meet anyone." or "Dad, everyone else has a boyfriend but me." sound familiar?

Having been on that side of the road and having made those statements myself, I remember all too well the feelings of anxiety or despair in not having a date like my friends in the public school. In public school it is easy to have a new boyfriend or girlfriend every other month. However, it is very hard as a home schooled teenager to sit back and watch your friends compare notes on which guy they like this week, or what new girl just joined their class. As home-schoolers, we often just don't have as much opportunity to meet other people as those in the public system.

It is very important that home-schooled teenagers get plenty of social interaction – usually the best place for this is inside the church or the youth group. I was a very active member in my church group and actually met my husband there. What better place to meet your future mate than inside God's house? It can be a safe, as well as fun, dating environment. Some of my fondest memories of the teenage years involve going to IHOP every Wednesday night after the service. A big group of my friends would go each week just to hang out. Sometimes we wouldn't order anything but French fries and water! It was fun just to sit and talk and maybe hold hands under the table with a special someone. Everyone had a great time at the swim parties in the summer and hayrides in the fall, whether they were dating someone in the group or were all just friends. Group dates like these can be not only fun but also extremely helpful in avoiding the many pitfalls of teenage dating.

When I look back now at my time in the public high school I attended, I cringe at the lack of decent options of young men. So many of my girl friends were "settling" on some guy just so they would not be single. What kind of relationship is that? Assure your teenagers that they are not missing out! As a very happy newlywed, I can assure you that God has not forgotten your children! No matter how hopeless the situation might seem to them now, it is a fact that God will provide in His perfect timing. As it is written in Song of Solomon, "do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases."

This Valentines Day, encourage your children to let go of the commercialism and the frenzy of finding a date. Sure, it is fun to pass out valentines and eat your weight in candy! But in the midst of the excitement, be an example to your teenagers of how much more important it is to just fall in love with Jesus. If they will allow Him to fill the void in their hearts, they will find much more peace and happiness this February than receiving chocolate roses from a friend. Simply stepping back and letting Jesus be the real lover of their souls (and yours!) can be the greatest Valentine of all.

Betsy St. Amant resides in northern Louisiana with her newly wed husband, Brandon. She is currently attending Louisiana Baptist University with a major in Christian Communications and is actively pursuing a career in inspirational writing. You can contact her at Angelkiss216@bellsouth.net.