It is inevitable: a broken heart.
Whether it happens to your 12 or your 17-year-old child, it’s bound to happen. This very normal part of growing up can have a variety of outcomes with one unfortunately being depression. As a parent, it is important to help your child navigate his or her way through in a healthy way. Here are some ways to do that.
1. Don’t Take Sides
Your child needs your support, but likely also has feelings for his or her former boyfriend or girlfriend. Speaking badly of the ex could potentially backfire, especially if your child rekindles the relationship. Instead, lend support to your child with a listening ear.
2. Listen and Validate Feelings
You may have experienced a break up or two in your lifetime, and feel like you have plenty of advice to give, but now is not the time to tell your child what to do. Now is the time to listen to your child and validate any emotions he or she may be feeling, no matter the emotion.
3. Share Your Own Stories
While it’s a good idea to stay away from advice, sharing your own stories could prove helpful. By sharing real life stories of times when you experienced something similar, your child may feel a connection to you, and feel less alone in her struggle. And seeing that you got through it OK may give them the confidence that they will also get through it.
4. Don’t Get Too Involved
When your child hurts, you hurt. Because of this, it is only natural to want to fix it. Perhaps you feel like you need to talk to the other teen’s parents or even the teen himself. This will only add to the problem by not allowing your child to work through relationships in a natural way.
5. Encourage Healthy Habits
When emotional distress like breakups happen, it is normal for teens to lose sleep, change eating habits, or stop exercising. In fact, studies show that diet in particular is a key factor in maintaining good emotional and mental health. Take this time to encourage your teen to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods and get a healthy amount of exercise so that she can face the challenge with a more clear and sharp mind.
6. Encourage Healthy Habits
The truth of the matter is, there are some breakups that take a long time to get over, and depending on the circumstance and the mental well-being of your child at the time, therapy may be necessary.
If you see a drastic change in the behavior of your child, if she isn’t able to sleep or eat, and if the behavior seems to be lasting unreasonably long, it might be a good idea to seek the professional help of a therapist.
After all, life is full of ups, downs and straightaways, and a breakup is just another one of those experiences that is part of a very exciting life story.