Ahh, the first love. It’s bittersweet and full of new, exciting feelings. Your teen may feel as if it’s never going to end… until it does.
The first relationship is a big milestone for teenagers. Developing a deep connection with another person teaches you a lot about relationships and about life. While parents are aware that the first relationship is usually temporary, your teenager may feel as if their entire world is crumbling around them if it ends.
Whether your teenager initiated the breakup or they got “dumped”, heartbreak is an intense emotion and poses quite an emotional challenge for them. In fact, it takes an average of three months to get over an ex, and heartbreak has the potential to cause depression. So, what can you do to help them through it?
Be a Good Listener
The best thing you can do for your daughter or son post-breakup is to simply listen. They are probably feeling vulnerable dealing with these difficult emotions, so just listen calmly. It might break your heart to see your child so upset, but it’s important to be their rock through this experience.
Spend Time with Them
Offer to do a fun activity with your teen if they’re up for it. Go out for dinner at their favourite spot, go for a drive or take a walk down the beach. All of this will help to distract them from the situation.
It may be tempting for your teen to let their usual eating and hygiene routines slip a little during the breakup, but self-care is just what they need. Encourage this by buying them a nice bath bomb, a fresh set of toiletries and offering healthy meals.
Keep an Eye on Them
Heartbreak is intense, especially if the relationship ended chaotically (for instance, their partner cheated on them or they got into a big fight). While difficult, it shouldn’t be endlessly emotionally debilitating. If your teen is staying in their room for weeks on end, stops being interested in things they normally enjoyed or you notice a difference in their eating or sleeping habits, it’s a good idea to take them to your GP.
Don’t Dismiss the Situation
Even if you’re secretly relieved because you didn’t like their partner anyway, or you don’t think it’s a big deal because first relationships don’t tend to last, don’t minimise the situation. It’s invalidating and will make your teen feel as if their problems aren’t important to you, and this may stop them from being open about their thoughts in the future.
Don’t Force Advice
If your teen asks for advice, give it to them; but don’t force them to follow it.
Don’t Push Them to Share Their Emotions
Be a good listener, but don’t force them to share their thoughts with you. Your teen may prefer to grieve quietly rather than share their thoughts and feelings on the breakup with you, and that is okay – everyone handles heartbreak differently.