How to Navigate Your Teen's First HeartbreakBy gina Roberts-grey
For a few of you who have not read the Twilight series books by Stephenie Meyer, the plot is basically a twisted version of Romeo and Juliet’s teen romance; the characters can not love one another like a normal couple because the main character must bite his true love and transform her into a vampire. These stories are very popular with teens and tweens because they can relate to the emotions of first love. Sorry to break it to you parents of tweens and teens, but they are beginning their journey through the fields of budding romances and with those romances, come thorns of heartbreak.
Dealing with your teen’s first heartbreak can be devastating for her and for you, but you must be the rock in this situation and be there as a sounding board. You might want to criticize and lash out against the other party, but hold your tongue. You don’t want to put in an awkward hello when she and the offending party patch things up. Here are a few navigational tools to get you and your teen through this difficult time:
Share Her Feelings
Nothing puts things into perspective quicker than having your teen share how she feels. She may tell you she feels like she was kicked in the stomach or that a piece of her heart has broken off and lodged in the middle of her throat. She could have waves of grief as if she lost someone near and dear to her. There may be anger, or confusion by not knowing why this is happening. There may be some jealousy if the person broke up to begin dating someone else and with these emotions comes low self-esteem. If she talks about the situation with you, she can gain a solid understanding of what took place. It helps her to look at it objectively, rather than to keep it bottled up inside and think only the worst of the person who did the breaking up or the worst about herself. When she is sharing with you, resist the urge to give advice. Let her talk freely and give her a few prompts to keep the channels of communication open. Make sure you have set aside uninterrupted time, so that she feels she is being heard.
Make a List of Good Qualities
Have your teen write down the things that make her special and have her keep it positive and upbeat. See if she can come up with at least 10 qualities. Have her think about why she is a great daughter and friend. She can list all of the activities she enjoys doing and is good at. As the parent of the heartbroken teen, you need to remind your child of the good qualities she possesses to keep her from feeling like she caused the relationship to fail.
Have your teen hang out with friends she can trust with her emotions; friends that are fun to be with and will help her laugh and get her out of the gloomy feelings she is experiencing. Have her do the things that make her happy: going to a movie (make it a comedy), going bowling, or any other activity she enjoys. Just get her back out into the real world to help heal those feelings of sadness. Make sure she has plenty of activities to fill up her time. Keep her friends close and help her to remember what is good about her personality.
Make Sure She Takes Care of Herself
Keep your teen active and eating healthy. Don’t let her rely on food emotionally. Have her get plenty of sleep. Make sure her habits haven’t changed dramatically. If you feel she is becoming depressed or anything out of the ordinary, see a professional for help.
Cry It Out
Let your teen cry, even if your teen is a boy who has been heartbroken. This is her body’s way of dealing with overwhelming emotions. Tell her it is okay to cry. Let her know if she is at school and needs to cry to let a teacher know to excuse her. It is better to cry without an audience because she won’t want to rehash personal feelings with kids that are not her true friends.
Give Her Some Time
It might take days or weeks for her to stop being emotional over the breakup. If she feels like crying when her favorite song comes on the radio, have her pay attention to that emotion and realize that it will slowly fade.
She will need you more than ever to let her know that she will be all right and that she is not alone. Relate to her the same feelings you have experienced in your own heartbreaks. Her feelings at the time may seem dramatic to you but they are very real and should be respected. If you keep the lines of communication open, you can help her navigate through this difficult time and see a happier teen at the end of her journey.
Deanna Grubbs lives in Billings, is a mother to two teenagers and is a school librarian,