The roller coaster of emotions through which a teen with a broken heart goes is never easy on anyone, especially mom and dad.
Ah, young love. There’s nothing quite like it. The highs are beyond the moon and the lows hit the depths of the ocean. If your teen has experienced their first heartbreak, knowing how to help them can be challenging. While there isn’t an easy answer or a quick fix for a broken heart, there are a few ways you can be there for your teen. Read on…
Before anything else, parents must understand what’s happening. The crazed teen living among them, who barely resembles their child, is normal. The situation is common. It happens over and over in every home throughout the state, country, and world. Broken hearts know no bounds. Knowing that the phase is a natural part of life – and not a sign of terrible things to come – reduces a cataclysmic event into a rite of passage for their kids.
Choose your words carefully
It’s easy to tell your teen to get over it. Why can’t they just suck it up and move on? The reason, of course, is that your perspective has decades of experience and hindsight. But not theirs. Remember what it’s like to have your heart broken. Remember what it’s like to feel like your entire world has collapsed. Remember what it’s like to love everything about life one second, then see nothing but sadness the next. We know love unreturned isn’t the end of the world. We know a breakup is a bump in the grand scheme. But you didn’t when you were young. They don’t either. Remember that and enter the situation with empathy and not dismissiveness.
Remember that chemicals are at play; it’s not only a difference of perspective. As author of Adolescence is Not a Disease (Advantage Media 2016) Jeffrey Liken, explains, “The intensity of the hormonal rush that happens with first loves can be overwhelming. It’s not easy for anyone to be rational when their emotions are flaring.” In a sense, then, they’re not even in full control of their minds at that point.
There’s no cure
Many parents want the quick fix, the magic combination of words that will instantly make it all better. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. One of the only cures for a broken heart is time. This is as important for you to remember as it is for them. As a parent you want to do all you can to make your kids happy; seeing them so torn can be just as heartbreaking for us. We want to do something. Sometimes, though, we have to stand by and wait to be needed. Be supportive and offer guidance when they come to you, but try to avoid unleashing an un-requested avalanche of “mother/father knows best.”
See the big picture
When they do come to you for help? You know your kids best and you know how to be a great parent, so the right words of wisdom will come. Just in case you need a kick start, though, here are a few things you can tell your teen:
his is not the love of your life: Oh, I know it can seem that way, but the truth is, rarely does first loves become forever loves. This is the first of many connections you’ll have, each one teaching you new things about who you are and what makes you happy. They’ll actually get better and better. (Sharing your own story can be massively effective.)
The right one is out there: The one who will make you happy, the one who will help you become the best version of yourself, the one who will accept you and inspire you will come into your life at some point. Until he or she does, enjoy the relationships you have but don’t worry if they don’t last forever.
Let go and move on: Time heals all wounds – if given the chance. The quickest way to feeling good again is to let go and move on. It didn’t work out and that’s painful, but the pain will diminish every day if you let it.