It may be puppy love to us, but your child's first romantic relationship can rock their world. As Circle of Moms member Fiona T. says: "The first time a relationship ends, you have no perspective that life will go on and you will meet other people, because you are so young that you just don't realize it's not the end of everything."
With your tween or teen's emotions and hormones running high, you may find yourself at a loss for how to help. If your child is going through her first big breakup and you're not sure what (if anything) you should do, here are five smart tips from Circle of Moms communities.
1. Be Available
Even if you're aware that your kid is going through a tough time with a boyfriend or girlfriend, you may find that they can't or won't talk to you about it. Circle of Moms member Tamara W. discovered that she could help her son best by just being there and showing she cared: "I helped validate his feelings and was there to listen. Don't (take) it personally if he shuts down and doesn't want to talk about it, just take his lead on the conversations... just being there and let him know that you love him and care."
Tammy C. draws on memories of her own high school breakup to understand why kids go quiet and how parents can help. Although it was almost 20 years ago, she still remembers how much her mom was there for her even when she didn't want to talk: "The whole time she did so much by saying so little. I don't think there's a right thing to say or do, but to let nature run its course. Wait for her to talk, like my mom did. It worked."
2. Boost Self Esteem
Most of us know from experience that failure in a relationship can create feelings of depression and self-doubt. This is true whether you are 14 or 40, and it's important that your teen keep a strong sense of self-worth through the process. Circle of Moms member Allie R. has a suggestion for moms of daughters: "...Gloss it up and let her know how pretty she is and that the boy missed out on a wonderful person."
Luann B. also shares how important these times are, because experiences such as first love and first breakup teach us how to cope as adults: "After listening, it may also help to just compliment her on her strengths and encourage her. Hard times [are] what makes a person strong and resilient, and she can use these times to develop coping skills."
3. Be Non-Judgmental
You may feel like a sounding board at times, as your son or daughter unleashes a fury of emotions. Anger can be a normal part of any breakup, and it is important for your child to let it out in a safe and non-judgmental environment. As Kimberly P. says: "Just listen and let her cry on your shoulder. No judgements or opinions." Another member, Angie B., agrees that it's important to "be supportive and let her know you are available for venting."
Your teen may have time on her hands now, time that used to be spent with her former flame. You certainly can't take the place of that lost love, but you can help her use that time constructively instead of wallowing. Circle of Moms member Lori suggests filling the void with distractions such as shopping or going out to dinner: "She is missing that boy and his company and the last thing she needs is a rebound relationship."
A member named Di O. also recommends the idea of positive distraction: Try to get her involved in some out of school activities: sports, drama, art, dancing, church youth group, whatever. Something to take her mind off this boy, make some new friends, and, if it's something she can improve or succeed in, it may help her self esteem."
5. Look for Signs of Depression or Abuse
Some kids need more than a shoulder to cry on and a little time to move on. You'll want to keep an eye out for signs that your son or daughter might need some type of therapy to get through this. As mentioned above, some amount of isolation and self reflection is normal as a tween or teen goes through the emotions of a breakup, but it's dangerous when they withdraw from everything: friends, family, activities, etc. Circle of Moms member Shelly B. says the only times you should intervene is in cases of total withdrawal, or if you suspect your child may be hurting him or her self.
Moms in our communities also warn about the dangers of an abusive partner or ex. As mom Angie B. says: "If he becomes abusive then everything changes and you should step in and do whatever you have to do to keep her safe." If you suspect that your son or daughter is in an abusive relationship, seek help from The National Dating Abuse Helpline at loveisrespect.org.
One of the most important things to remember is that bad relationships teach us so much. How your teen gets through this time will shape how she deals with relationships and copes with crises in her life for years to come. Don't be afraid to reach out to your child, and to seek counseling if you think she needs it.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.