Romantic relationships are challenging at any age, but especially for teenagers. That’s because teens are at the latter end of childhood and figuring out who they are, not to mention, they’re still growing physically and mentally.
The thought of your teenager dating may be uneasy for you, particularly because you know that the life expectancy of these relationships tends to be fairly short. As the adult parent, you may foresee a breakup happening long before they do. Yet, you may not know what to say to help them get through their first heartbreak.
Here are a few suggestions of what to say (and not to say) to help your teenager through this difficult period.
Let Your Teen Vent Freely Without Saying Anything
As tempting as it may be to offer advice, don’t—at least, not yet. There will be plenty of time for that later. Let your teen share how they’re feeling first. Try not to interrupt as they describe what happened.
Don’t pressure your teen to share everything. Your teenager may not be ready to talk just yet. Respect their right to privacy by simply saying, “I’m here to listen if you need me.” Then let them take the lead.
Help Them Find a “New Normal”
Encourage your teen to occupy themselves productively by hanging out with their friends or family. Or maybe get them involved in other activities they enjoy. This way, they may not be as tempted to think about the breakup.
Keeping their minds occupied can be a healthy way to feel better and focus their mind on the future, not the past.
Advise Against Checking Social Media
If there is any advice you do offer, let it be this: gently suggest to your teenager that they avoid checking their ex’s social media pages. Often, this can aggravate the hurt feelings—especially if they’ve already moved on to somebody else.
Additionally, you may want to suggest to your teenager not to post anything about the breakup on their social platforms: song lyrics, angry venting, passive-aggressive messages, etc. Even if these messages can be deleted later, they can still live on in the form of screenshots taken with a cell phone.
Direct your teenager to step away from the computer or set down the phone if they are feeling tempted to post something in the heat of a vulnerable moment.
Remember You Don’t Have to Fix It
Of course, you don’t like seeing your teenager in emotional pain. You may want nothing more than to promise that everything will be okay. And if this is your teenager’s first relationship, they will surely bounce back. But let your teenager find their own footing during this time.
Think of this event as a learning opportunity; a chance for your teen to learn how to deal with disappointment. It is also an opportunity for them to learn that not everyone will like them, no matter how kind they try to be or how desirable they may think they are. Of course, this is a valuable lesson to learn in life in general, not just in the context of romantic relationships.
If nothing else, remind your teen that this likely will not be their last relationship. They have the rest of their adult lives ahead of them to meet people and date.
If you’re concerned that your teen isn’t bouncing back after a certain amount of time has passed, and they seem to be lapsing into depression, there is help available. Consulting with a therapist can show you alternative skills to help your teen find their footing again and move on. Please contact us if you would like to know more.
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