It’s an inevitable chapter in every adolescent experience: the pain of having your heart broken by a girlfriend/boyfriend, or even just a crush who doesn’t return your feelings. For a parent, watching a child deal with that type of rejection can be excruciating. Yet, in these moments, they need our parental love and wisdom more than ever.
Resist the urge to downplay your teen’s negative experience. As my father used to say, “It may be puppy love, but it’s real to the puppy.” Instead, love them with even greater intention and help them get back on their feet. Here’s how:
1. Remind her of who she is.
It’s easy for our children to forget who they really are in the crush of a media culture that constantly says, “You’re not enough.” But God tells us that we are enough! In His eyes, your child is wonderfully made, cherished, and beautiful. All other opinions are completely subjective, but what God says is true. Friends and boyfriends may come and go, but the truth remains.
2. Keep him busy.
A busy child doesn’t have too much time to dwell on the negative or to wait for the phone to ring. Keep your son or daughter engaged in the hobbies and activities they love the most. If he doesn’t already have a full plate, this might be a good time to get excited about something new: picking up a new sport, a new musical instrument or planning a family trip.
3. Share your story.
When bad things happen, we tend to feel isolated in our pain and assume that no one has ever felt this bad or been dumped this hard. This may be a good time to share your own heartbreak story, if appropriate. Almost every parent has a similar experience from their own teen or young adult years. Hearing your story lets your teen know that you really do understand how much it stinks, and that—just as it has in your life—this, too, shall pass.
4. Help her look forward.
If your high school daughter feels like she’s lost the affection of the only boy in her school she wants to be with, help her to realize that her current world is the tip of an enormous iceberg. She has no idea who she hasn’t met yet! The college years bring so many new and interesting people into our lives. In just a year or two, she could be surrounded by tons of guys who make Mr. Big Deal in High School look like, well…small potatoes. As cliché as it sounds, there really are lots of fish in the sea—and your kid has only waded out knee-deep thus far.
5. Remind him of the value of friendships.
One of the downfalls of exclusive teen romances is that they cause couples to spend so much time with one another, often at the expense of their other friendships. Point out that this is a good time to invest in closer relationships with friends—both guys and girls—and benefit from time spent and memories made with them.
If your children are younger, you can begin now to lessen the dramas of teen heartbreak by fostering healthy attitudes toward romantic relationships.
What other ideas do you have to help your child and their broken heart?