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How to Deal With a Teen Daughter's Heartbreak

by Liza Blau

Breaking up is hard to do at any age, but it can be devastating for a teenager. If your teenage daughter experiences a soured romantic relationship or had a crush on another teen who didn't reciprocate her feelings, you will be able to hear the heartache. No matter what caused her heartbreak, the loss and pain is hard to handle.

Give her space. Don't pry into the reasons for the breakup or demand that she talk to you about it. Respect her need for privacy. It might take time for her to open up. Let her be -- even if she wants to spend hours alone in her room. If you overhear her chatting on the phone to friends about the breakup -- don't be hurt. It's natural for teens to look for support from peers before their parents. Simply let her know that you understand she's going through a difficult time, and you'll always be there for her if and when she's ready to talk.

Be a good listener when your daughter talks to you about her heartbreak. Give her your undivided attention, and show empathy and respect for whatever she's feeling. Don't criticize her boyfriend or say, "I told you it would never work out with that jerk." Now isn't the time to bring up stories about your own past heartbreaks or try to top her pain by saying "Your heartbreak is nothing compared to the loss of my first boyfriend." Instead, validate her feelings by saying, "What you're going through sounds very painful." Dismissing or belittling her feelings could cause her to shut down and not come to you in the future.

Offer comfort and support through your actions. Although she probably won't admit it, your heartbroken teen needs her mom and dad during this painful time. Comfort her by baking her cookies, serving her breakfast in bed, making her favorite meal, taking her for a shopping excursion or treating her to a movie. Even small gestures are an effective way to acknowledge that you know she's hurting and show you're there for her, which can help lift her spirits.

Help restore her confidence. After her break-up, your teenage daughter's self-esteem might have taken a nosedive. Encourage her to become involved with hobbies, activities, team sports and pursue interests that nurture any special talents. If she has a creative bent, now is a perfect time to enroll her in music, art, dance or acting classes. Engaging in sports and other group activities will help her meet others who share her interests, boost self-confidence and take her mind off the boy who broke her heart.

Stick to a schedule. Insist that she show up at mealtimes, do her homework and not be late for school. It's important to teach her that life must go on, even during the most difficult times, which will help develop inner strength. Even if she's only going through the motions, keeping to a familiar routine will help her feel more stable and secure during this emotionally stressful period.

Be patient. It might take your daughter up to several weeks or months to completely recover from the breakup. Don't make her feel as though she's doing something wrong by saying, "You should be over this by now" or "What's taking you so long to feel better?" Be an unconditional presence in her life, no matter how long the healing takes.

Warning

  • If your teen has lost her appetite, sleeps too little or too much, refuses to go to school and has trouble functioning, seek help from a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist or school guidance counselor. She might need to be treated for depression.

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