Parents may be reluctant to realize this, but a part of teen development includes adolescents’ interest in exploring romantic relationships. This is healthy for teen development, too, as it provides them with essential experience in which teens learn to manage emotional interactions with others. Through this emotional exploration your teen daughter may experience a breakup, which can be difficult for you to witness. Being there for her and teaching her what you know can help your daughter cope with this challenge.
One of the first things you want to do when trying to help your daughter deal with a breakup is to listen to her, without prejudice, notes Dr. Sue Hubbard, creator of the website, KidsDr.com. Listening without prejudice means not judging her thoughts, complaints and emotional expressions. If your daughter voices that she’s upset because she thought that she and her former partner were going to be together forever, simply allow her to express her emotions without initially offering any advice or rebuttals to her complaints. Being there for your daughter and allowing her to cry on your shoulder after a breakup provides her with much-needed emotional support, and teaches her that she can come to you when this type of support is needed.
Validate Her Emotions
After your daughter has vented a little, show her empathy by validating her emotions regarding her breakup. Validating is a way to help others feel accepted and not judged for what they are experiencing, says director and owner of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center in Houston, Texas, Karyn Hall, writing for “Psychology Today.” One way to validate your daughter’s feelings is to normalize your daughter’s experience, notes Hall. You could offer a reflection such as, “I understand why you’re hurt – most people would be hurt by that kind of treatment,” which helps her realize that she’s not alone in her experience, and that someone else understands what she’s going through.
If you find that your teen daughter is in a pessimistic mood and doesn’t believe she will get over her breakup or – even worse – won’t find another suitable partner, encourage her to be more optimistic about her romantic future. Remind your daughter of her beauty, intelligence and worthiness. If the breakup causes your daughter to question her self-worth, encourage her to create a list of her good qualities and strengths to boost her self-esteem. Also remind her that she’s only in high school and has many more dating years ahead of her, along with more opportunities to find a mate. Encourage your daughter to engage in distracting yet uplifting activities to help her take her mind off the breakup. Treat her to a mani/pedi or spa day, or go bowling together to have some fun and teach your daughter how to distract herself in a positive way.
Provide Her with Your Wisdom
As you console your daughter after her relationship breakup, use this opportunity to share your experience and wisdom with her. Tell your daughter about what you experienced during your first breakup, and how you eventually healed from this experience. This not only provides a substantive bonding moment between the two of you, but also enables your daughter to learn effective -- and ineffective -- ways to cope with breakups in the future. It's best to offer this information once your daughter has had an opportunity to vent her emotional upset, and is in search of viable solutions.