Watching our kids, more specifically our teens, go through heartbreak — their first heartbreak — isn’t easy. I found that out firsthand this week. Just because they’re kids, doesn’t mean their feelings aren’t big and their emotions even bigger. This week I discovered that maybe more than the right words, when our kids are heartbroken, they need the right touch. Maybe it’s the physical touch of a hug or shoulder to cry on. Maybe it’s a quiet touch of listening ears and time to process. Or maybe they need the touch of routine and comfort to take their mind off their aching heart.
Whatever it is, as a parent, being their support isn’t always easy. Here’s a few tips I learned this week that might help make it better — not only for you as the parent — but for your child, as well.
Take it seriously!
Even though we may view these teen relationships as insignificant or petty, they are not. These relationships are what help shape how our kids view relationships in the future. Right now, these feelings are real, consuming and painful. We, as parents, can’t blow them off. We can’t tell our kids “You’ll get over it,” or “Just forget about it and move on — there’s more fish in the sea.” Value their feelings. Tell them you understand that this is painful and show empathy for the feelings they are experiencing.
Don’t try to fix it!
Life is full of disappointments and let downs. Unfortunately, we can’t shield our babies from all of it. We can, however, come along side them, and help guide them when they are learning how to deal with situations like this. In doing this, we teach them how to begin to handle life and everything it throws at us in a way that enables them to learn, grow and mature. Remember it’s not a broken toy or skinned elbow. You don’t want or need to jump in and try to make it all better. You just need to be their support.
Be a listener!
As parents, we often want to tell our kids what to do. Impart our years of wisdom and experience on them as advice. But, when dealing with heartbreaks, it may be a good time to just listen. Listen to their feelings, their venting, their disappointments and their confusion. Don’t ask too many questions. Let them process what they’re going through. In the processing comes healing. In the processing comes growth. And in the processing comes problem solving skills. Save the advice for later, when they are ready to hear it and their perspective has changed.
Support your baby!
Take this opportunity to celebrate them. Be there to hug them, make them their favorite dinner or dessert. Let them sleep in a bit or take them out for an ice cream date. Enjoy a popcorn and movie night with them. Let them know that you appreciate them for who they are, and you enjoy being with them, even if they don’t always enjoy being with you.
Getting over heartbreak as a teen is hard — remember! As a parent, it’s hard to watch, knowing how they feel and knowing you can’t take away the pain. But, as our babies grow up and our relationship changes, we go from being the one that takes away the pain to being the friend who helps them through it so they’re stronger on the other side.
This week, my momma heart hurt for my baby. But I know she will be a stronger, more independent woman because of the challenges she is able to face and overcome. And when the heartbreaks come — as I know they will — I’ll be right there beside her to support and value her, listen to her, and of course help drown the tears in tubs of ice cream.