With teen dating, comes teenage heartache. Follow this guide to help you along the way.
As parents we want to stay connected to our children, to properly guide them, love them and protect them.
Toeing the line
As children get older, this becomes more challenging, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Once your child develops romantic interests and starts dating, they open themselves up to a new world of emotional experiences.
Their feelings run the gauntlet of giddiness, crushes, love and sometimes heartbreak. We want them to responsibly enjoy the happy feelings, and as much as possible, avoid the hurtful moments. However, we know life delivers both sweet and sour. Therefore, some rain will fall on their love parade, as it did with ours. Our goal as parents should be to help our children manage their hurt feelings during these painful moments, until they can once again feel self-empowered and inspired to love once more.
How do we as parents walk this fine line?
First, we fight the urge to minimise our children’s feelings. This is accomplished by recognising and verbally acknowledging the legitimacy of their feelings. Recalling how we felt during our own emotionally disruptive moments could be a useful tool to connect with your child’s bruised emotions.
Keep in mind, if this is their first experience being romantically hurt, they have no idea how long this pain will last. To them, it feels like it could be an eternity. We should avoid formulaic responses such as, “the pain will fade, things will get better or you will find someone new.” Those responses sound helpful, but they are superficial utterances designed to band-aid hurt emotions, not to truly heal them.
Instead, listen and reflect back their emotions, empathising as much as possible will help heal this teenage heartache.
True healing begins with acknowledgement. Let your child know he or she has a right to their feelings, and you are there for them when they are ready to talk.
Gently remind them that there are times when relationships move apart, not because they are bad, but because they don’t always flourish as we originally imagined they would.
Praise them for having the courage to hold such big feelings for another person. Avoid trying to force them to talk about their feelings; they are already feeling overwhelmed. The last thing they need or want is their parent(s) forcing them into a conversation to process these uncomfortable feelings when they aren’t prepared to do so. We have to resist the urge to rush them through their process so we can feel like “good parents”.
Mark Winkler is an author, motivational speaker and co-founder of Fatherhood Circle. His new book, My Daughter’s Keeper, is available now from Amazon. For more articles from Mark visit markrwinkler.com.