Breaking up is hard to do -- especially when you're the mom of a teen or young adult who just did the breaking. Supporting your child through the end of a romantic relationship can be tricky. You want to be a good mom by acknowledging your teen's heartbreak, but, at the same time, you need to find a way to show her that life does go on without trivializing her feelings. Find a good balance that will show her you care without making light of the situation.
Let your teen know you are there for him -- but give him space. Boys often feel anger and need to be alone, but they don't want to feel lonely either. Simply being at home in another room -- available to talk if needed -- can help, according to Adolescent Psychologist Mike Reira in the Boston.com article titled "Picking Up the Pieces After A Traumatic Teenage Breakup." Girls tend to talk more, but they might pick up the phone and talk to their friends before they talk to mom. Be available, but let your teen initiate the conversation.
Lend a listening ear, but do not try to fix things. Telling your teen that it was for the best or that she'll meet someone new is not what she needs to hear, according to the MassGeneral Hospital for Children Psychiatry Department. Instead, tell her how sorry you are that she is going through this, and that you love and care for her. Tell her some stories about when you were her age -- maybe about your first breakup. After all, if you hadn't broken up with your first significant other, you might not have met your child's other parent.
Empathize with your teen's pain. Validate his feelings -- tell him that you can see how much it hurts. Don't tell him that he will get over it or that it's not as bad as he is making it out to be -- the pain of a breakup is usually more intense than parents realize.
Encourage your child to stay active. Don't try to distract him with special outings or too much activity, but don't let him hide in his room and skip football practice either. He does need some time alone, but skipping responsibilities like sports practices and jobs can lead to depression. Encourage him to keep in touch with his friends and even to write down his feelings in a journal if he isn't comfortable talking about them out loud.
- Try to avoid talking negatively about the former boyfriend or girlfriend, even if your teen is the one who initiated the split. Putting someone down will only bring negativity into the conversation and may stroke feelings of anger and bitterness. Warn your teen not to engage in any cyberbullying or post anything inflammatory on social media sites, as this could be considered harassment.
- Watch your teen for changes in behavior. Some change is normal, but extreme changes, such as refusing to get out of bed, a complete loss of appetite, severe anger or self-harm, can all be signs that your teen is sinking into a severe depression. These are signs that you may need to send your teen to a professional counselor to help her get through her heartbreak.
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images