Helping Your Child Heal From Heartbreak
Nothing causes a mother to suffer more than bearing witness to the suffering of her own children. Watching your teenager or young adult experience the pain of a broken heart can often be more challenging than enduring your own painful breakup. Unlike when she skinned her knees as a little one, you can’t just put a bandage on the boo-boo and make it better. But a little motherly love and support can go a long way to help your child begin to heal.
Let your child know that you're available and willing to listen if she feels like talking about the breakup, but don’t pressure her to discuss it. If your child isn't eager to open up, you can still be supportive simply by being present. Invite her to a movie, take her to dinner at her favorite restaurant, or watch a television show together that you both enjoy. You may not be able to heal the pain, but knowing you're there can be comforting.
Encourage Emotional Expression
Heartbreak sometimes leads to an emotional avalanche that can be overwhelming for adults and even worse for a teenager or young adult. Let your child know that she can cry if she wants and that getting negative feelings out in the open by talking about them with you or trusted friends can make her feel better. If she doesn't feel comfortable talking about her feelings, encourage her to let them out by keeping a diary or journal.
Promote Healthy Habits
Encourage your heartbroken teen to stay active in the wake of a breakup. Eating healthy and exercising regularly is always important, but it's particularly helpful in healing from heartbreak because it provides a positive channel for emotions. You can also suggest taking up a new hobby or joining a new club at school for something else positive to focus on.
Things to Avoid
Navigating heartbreak is not easy at any age, but because teenagers and young adults are especially emotional creatures, it's important for you to avoid some of the common mistakes parents make when trying to help a child through such a time. Don’t try to downplay or dismiss how your child is feeling. Instead, validate your child’s pain by letting her know that you understand how much it hurts to have a broken heart and that it's normal to experience such profound hurt. It's also important to remember not to badmouth the other party in the breakup. Talking trash about the other person could backfire if your child reconnects with the ex or feels offended by your critical opinions. As tempting as it may be to tell her that her ex is a loser who doesn’t know what he's missing, it would be more helpful to keep your feelings about him to yourself.