If you are a parent, or a future parent, chances are you will one day be faced with the broken heart of your child. Not a broken heart because the older sibling just ate the last donut and it was the other child’s favorite; or the broken heart that comes from being left out of a party, function, or other such social gatherings of which your child wasn’t included. The broken heart I’m talking about here is of a love nature.
Here are 10 things you need to know when your child goes through a break-up. I’ve written about this before: Breaking up is hard to do.
1. It’s going to hurt you more than it hurts your child. No, I’m serious! Okay, maybe not, but even though your child is faced with the pain of rejection, it is you the parent that is faced with watching your child suffer and come to terms with the break-up. As any parent knows watching your child go through a difficult time is never easy. It is harder still when it comes to matters of the heart.
2. You will have to grieve the loss as well. I’m not talking about the break-up of a causal hanging out for weeks or a few months. I’m talking about the ending of a long-term relationship that has lasted a year or more. Chances are this person has been to your house on a regular basis and included in family functions. There is a personal loss that comes with a break-up, and not just for your child but for you, the parent. Hint: it seems to be more difficult for the mother.
3. Be prepared to feel a gamut of emotions from sadness, to anger to the loss of what might have been.
4. You will have to grapple with how ridiculous this seems and you will compare yourself with others to determine if the amount of grief you feel is normal; if you are indeed a sane person.
5. No matter how well you understand not getting attached to your child’s girlfriend or boyfriend, it’s probably going to happen anyway, which means that when a break-up occurs, it’s going to hit you hard.
6. You will need closure too. If you need to write a heart-felt message to say good-bye to the ex, then do so, but do it with class. This is not the time for accusations, or touting the many virtues of your child.
7. Be there for your child. This is also not the time to list the many faults of the ex to your child, or to bemoan and lament your pain and suffering. This is truly about your child and not you. Stay with that thought.
8. Never belittle the feelings that your child has concerning the break-up or relationship, no matter how young they are. If your child has been in this relationship for a long period of time they have invested themselves; time, attention, and resources. This is a big deal. Help them to see that.
9. Don’t push your child to feel any differently than the way they feel. Feelings are fickle and fleeting. Encourage your child to experience those feelings. Let them know the feelings will change because that is the nature of feelings.
10. This too shall pass. Life is a series of ups and downs, good times and bad. The pain won’t last forever.
This is not a finite list. I’m sure there are things I have not touched on about the things you need to know when your child goes through a break-up, but I have hit a few of the highlights.
If we could spare our children the pain that is inevitable while growing up I’m sure we all would. I’m equally as sure that to do so would be a huge mistake. As difficult as it is to watch our children go through painful situations, this is where they will learn many lessons that will serve them well all through life. It is also an opportunity for your child to learn some valuable things about themselves that may surprise them and lead to further growth.
In the end, it’s the hard times that make the good times more valuable.
Have you been through the break-up of a child? How did that go for them? Do you have a tip to add to this list?