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hansenkriss
hansenkriss asks:
Q:

What should a parent do when their 14 year old daughter is devastated by a breakup?

My 14 year old daughter is heart broken that her boyfriend of one year (he just turned 16 - she turns 15 in November).  He told her that he was not happy in the relationship, but I have heard more than one rumor that it is because of another girl.  I happen to believe that is the case.  She does not even though her best friends have told her otherwise.  He goes to a different but local high school.  I found out their relationship starting becoming imtimate in January about 2  mos ago when he broke up with her the first time for a week when he admitted to kissing this same girl.  She is crying at night a lot, not eating, and is trying to get him to talk to her on the phone but he tells her it is over.  He keeps texting her (out of guilt or ????).   I caught her starting to drink alcohol late last night.  She said she wasnt doing to do it but I saw that she had texted him that she wanted to get drunk and pass out.  She is a straight A student and has never drank alcohol.  What should I do about the relationship and the possibility that she would turn to alcohol?
In Topics: Friendships and peer relationships, Teen sexuality and dating, Teen alcohol and substance abuse
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Dr.Susan
May 19, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Although some might tell you otherwise, teenage heartbreak is just as powerful as the broken heart of an older person. What's more, a year is very long time for a teen to be in a relationship. In addition, it is very painful for a teen to suspect that her boyfriend has broken up with her for another girl--or cheated on her (which is actually often the way teen boys AND girls end their relationships because they don't yet have the emotional skills to break up on more emotionally mature terms.) And it isn't surprising that she doesn't want to believe this is true, especially if he broke up with her soon after their relationship reached a more intimate level. She must have felt incredibly rejected and hurt.

Given all of this, it is not surprising--in fact I would say that it is normal--that your daughter is going through a period close to mourning: crying, not eating and trying to talk to him--to make him want to come back to the relationship. You may find that she also has trouble sleeping and difficulty focusing on school work--all of these are normal responses to feeling deep loss.

It is certainly a concern that she would turn to alcohol--although, I wonder if it is indeed her first time. It is possible that she has tried alcohol in the past, without you realizing it. It is unusual for a teen to turn to alcohol for the first time in crisis. More typically, they have at least tried it socially first under more positive circumstances. It is important for you to have very open conversations with her about the danger of using alcohol to make herself feel better, or to get the attention of her former boyfriend. It is also important for you to monitor her very, very closely during this period of loss, especially since she is showing signs of self destructive behavior to cope (drinking).

In terms of the relationship, it is your job to help her cope as best she can. Loss of relationships is a normal part of growing up and learning how to get through them, is an important life skill. Your daughter needs you to remind her of two things:
1.That she is just as smart, wonderful, beautiful and special with or without this boyfriend.
2. That her self worth should not allow her to want to be with a boy who cheats on her.

This will be a rough period for her, but once she learns these two lessons, she will come out the other side, stronger, more resilient and with a better self esteem. Remind her that eventually she will be ready for another relationship, but she should give herself time to get over this one first.

Good Wishes and Great Parenting,
Dr Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert
www.drsusanbartell.com
Twitter @drsusanbartell
NEW book “The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask”

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Additional Answers (3)

Dr.Monika
Dr.Monika , Child Professional writes:
Sorry to hear about your daughter's emotional struggle.  Adolescence is a difficult period of development as it is, and when a teen experiences a break up with a boyfriend, the whole world seems to be tumbling down for her.

I think that reaching for alcohol, is a signal that your daughter might be depressed and needs help of a counselor.  

I am a little worried about her text about wanting to pass out from alcohol.  Could she think of a suicide?  Talk to her ASAP, and if she confirms, take her to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Best regards.
> 60 days ago

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TXmama22
TXmama22 writes:
I would spend a lot of time with her so you two can bond and you can help her through this.  She's really confused right now and needs some type of reassurance in her life, some kind of normalcy.  

Losing "love" is part of growing up and if you shared with her some of your stories at an age-appropriate level, it may help her know and understand it's not the end of the world nor is she the first nor will she be the last to lose love.  Help her make a small term goal of getting her happiness back with her friends--that time when the dumbest things ever were the funniest because they were so genuine!  Life became too serious for her too young so it would be good to go back to being silly again!!  Best of luck to you both.
> 60 days ago

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allmyrelations
allmyrelati... writes:
If your daughter told you she did not drink before you have no reason to not believe that if she is an honest person. The first time I drank was a situation quite similar, because of a fight with a boyfriend.

I would be careful not to go overboard on worrying about that too much. It is natural for someone to say that. It sounds like she is trying to get attention from her boyfriend. Most girls I know who do that will talk and not actually act out on a lot of that. But of course there is a huge danger of what if she does act out. Keep her close to you without appearing to babysit her. I am a recent college graduate and still when I have fights with my boyfriend of 5 years and I'm home my parents worry about me. I'm in a much better state of mind and much more emotionally healthy than I was at 14 or 15 but it's mother and father's instinct. The best thing my parents ever did for me was hang out with me. My mom and I would go shopping or to get our nails done, or watch movies. Or we'd all order pizza and play card games. Even though sometimes it would bring up emotions or make me cry, it made me feel much better to talk to my parents too. Of course your child probably isn't going to want to tell you everything going on, but she can tell you what she feels comfortable with. Just don't snoop through her stuff because you don't want to break her trust. Make her feel better about herself, help her self confidence. Encourage her to hang out with her good girl friends. Encourage her to go out to a party, supervised or whatever, or the movies, or bowling with big groups of people so she can socialize with new people.
> 60 days ago

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