Catherine Durkin Robinson: Valentine’s Day advice for kids who won’t listen anyway

Driving my sons from one activity to another, if I turn off the radio and they put down their phones, is a great opportunity to talk about life. Recently, my youngest mentioned his friend Dave was in trouble because “Dave told Whitney he liked her, but he also likes Alice and wants to date Alice first.”

“What’s wrong with that?” I asked.

“Mom,” Zach said. “He wants to date two girls at the same time. That’s bad.”

Very few statements crystallize my failure as a mother like that one.

“There’s no cheating when you’re eighteen. You should all be touching each other all the time.” – Mistress America

Despite the title of this column, I don’t give advice. Giving advice would suggest, on some level anyway, that I know what I’m doing. I don’t. Far from it.

At a glance, I probably look like an expert. My husband and I have been together since 1988. Ronald Reagan was president. And here we are. Happy. We still get along. We enjoy ourselves 1.5 times a week. It’s almost all good.

But if you were to press either of us as to why it’s worked for so long, we couldn’t give you a magic formula. Oh sure, we’re nice to each other. Honest. Respectful. We avoid the same reality television programs.

There’s this myth that as people get older, they know a thing or two. I don’t know a ton. The older I get, the less I know and the more confused I become. Wouldn’t it be great if when you fall in love with someone, the universe opens in a way that clears up all confusion and you’re enlightened until you die? That’d be awesome.

“Love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect…We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.” – Moonstruck

Getting married to your soulmate doesn’t mean you’re immune from lustful thoughts or crushing on a co-worker because you like the way she licks her lips while changing copier ink. It doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love on Craigslist or Ashley Madison and blame it on a brain tumor. Love and all its crazy confusion happens to lots of people, despite age, marital or socioeconomic status.

And no one knows why.

When my kids ask about love and how it all works, all I can offer are suggestions. Ideas that sound feasible. I’m not sure that any of this is 100 percent correct, but it’s the best I can do. Here’s what I tell them:

When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.

(OK, that one above isn’t mine, but I added it anyway.)

If you feel for someone, tell them.

First, make sure. Then tell them.

Don’t require or insist upon reciprocation.

Just get it out there. Be honest. Tell them they rock your world. I can think of worse news.

If they don’t feel the same way, suppress the desire to get even.

If you get together and love each other thoroughly and then break up — suppress the desire to get even.

It’s no one’s fault when love dies. Buy some ice cream, cry a little and watch a Woody Allen movie. In a few weeks, run a race.

You will know love again. It doesn’t just happen once.

If someone says you rock their world, be kind. That’s some bravery right there.

Don’t ever fake it.

Don’t ever accept what you cannot give.

Tell the truth if the truth is good news.

If not, then say Thank you and move on.

She will eat ice cream, cry a little, run a race and eventually get over you.

Stay friends with as many people as possible.

If you do all this, maybe you’ll live to 90 and have no regrets.


I don’t know for sure.

I’m not 90 yet.

Oh, and one more thing. Ignore love songs.

Although…everything I know about relationships, I learned from Depeche Mode. Strangelove and Shake the Disease and World in My Eyes and No Good. In my defense, Celine Dion does not appear in any of them.

“Maybe I didn’t really know you. Maybe you were just a mirage. Maybe the world is full of food and sex and spectacle and we’re all just hurling towards an apocalypse, in which case it’s not your fault. And one more thing: about the letter. Nuke it. Flame it. Destroy it. It hurts me to know it’s out there.” – Say Anything

Seriously folks…Strangelove. That alone is proof of something, I’m just not sure what.

I wish I could offer certainties, safe bets, and sure things. But I can’t.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


Catherine Durkin Robinson co-parents twin sons, organizes families for advocacy purposes, writes syndicated columns, mentors kids, runs a few races and already regrets admitting to relating to Depeche Mode. That’s some bravery right there. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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