You remember how it feels: heart pounding, hands shaking, stomach-quaking nausea. He was the high school quarterback, or student body president, or chess club grandmaster, depending on where your tastes led you. He was witty, handsome, and in every way the bees’ knees. You thought it would last forever.
Of course, it didn’t. Teenage love affairs rarely last a semester, let alone a lifetime. But experts tell us that when first love results in a broken heart, your teen can carry the hurt well into adulthood. F. Scott Christopher, professor of Family Studies at Arizona State University, reports there are steps you can take to help ease the pain of your teen’s inevitable relationship woes. Here are some suggestions:
Validate your teen’s feeling: Even if the relationship lasted only two weeks, the pain is real. Engage in active listening. Let your teen work through the misery by expressing her thoughts through conversation. If you have concerns about what you are hearing, keep mental notes and bring them up at a later date.
Tell your story: If your teen is open to listening, share a story about your own adolescent heartache. Let your teen know that the feelings she is experiencing are a perfectly normal part of growing up.
Be patient: Wallowing takes as long as it takes. Allow your teen the time she needs. Believe it or not, she will tire of crying and over-analyzing what went wrong. Before you know it, she will be hanging out with her friends once again.
Forget the birds and bees: Today’s teens are a savvy bunch. If your teen uses this situation as an entrée to further discussion about sex and relationships, provide up-to-date facts about HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and birth control. Love isn’t just about romance; it’s about staying safe.