It's difficult for a parent to watch her daughter experience the pain of a breakup. Sometimes, it can be even harder to know how to reach out and comfort her, to let her know that life will go on and everything will be okay. Even if she seems closed off to you, it's important that you let her know that you're there to support her, and that she has the opportunity to heal in a safe, loving environment.
Do Put Yourself In Her Shoes
Take a moment and remember a time when you felt just as hurt as your daughter does now. Did someone offer you helpful advice or do anything in particular that made you feel better? If so, figure out how it could apply to your daughter, recommends life and family dynamics coach Danica Trebel on familyshare.com.
Although you might be inclined to be concerned if your daughter prefers to confide in her friends more than you, that’s perfectly normal, says Chris Hudson, youth expert and founder of the Understanding Teenagers website. What is important is that your daughter knows that you’re there for her when she does want you.
Do Just Listen
Instead of focusing on trying to find the right words to say, it will be more helpful if you just listen to your daughter get her feelings out, writes clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg, in "How Can I Help My Daughter With A Break-Up" for Psychology Today. It's important that you not only empathize with her emotions, but that you also validate her feelings.
Don't Tell Your Own Stories
Refrain from sharing your own stories of heartbreak, at least while your daughter’s breakup is still fresh, advises Hudson. Rather than coming across as a sympathetic gesture, your stories will make your daughter feel like you’re trying to make her heartbreak about you, he explains. He advises waiting until your daughter has some perspective and is feeling more positive before sharing.
Do Give Her Space
At this difficult time in her life, your daughter may show herself to be the kind of person who would prefer a little more time alone than usual. Help her have her alone time within acceptable boundaries, advises Hudson. These boundaries include requiring her to still have dinner with the family and to respond to family members politely, while giving her some leeway to come back when she's ready.
Don't Badmouth the Ex
Although it might seem helpful to engage in some ex-bashing, it's important that you don't badmouth your daughter's former significant other. Instead, Trebel writes, it will be much more valuable for you to help your daughter figure out what she learned from this relationship, and to identify what she appreciated about her boyfriend, as well as what she didn't.
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A New York native, Carrie Stemke is an avid writer, editor and traveler whose work has covered many different topics. She has had a lifelong fascination with and love of psychology, and hold's a bachelor's degree in the subject. Her psychology research articles have been published in Personality and Individual Differences and in Modern Psychological Studies.
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