The ending of a romance is tough on everyone. Our son’s romance recently ended and he was really upset by it. It’s hard to know how to console a teen. Here’s how we got through it.
It’s important if your son is very upset that you sit and listen to him. Don’t make light of the situation. This is a very trying time for any teen, especially if it is happening for the first time.
How you handle it will determine the first early week’s post break up. This is a really big deal in a teen’s life. It may be the first serious relationship and teen girls can be fickle. Sometimes they just don’t see the end coming. Here are some points to consider.
What age are they?
I know this might sound a bit odd. But girlfriend/boyfriend in younger teens is probably not as intense as older teens. Our son is 17 and had been in this relationship for almost 6 months. At 17, a romance may be more in-depth. They know a little more about being in a relationship and much, as a parent I don’t want to think about it their relationship is more likely to be physical as well as emotional.
So when it ends it can be very raw. This is possibly the first ‘I love you and first physical experience. We had of course discussed the practicing of safe sex, but not actual details. As long as they were being careful, I didn’t need or want to know anything further.
So to be rejected is a heavy blow to the heart. They are asking themselves, What did I do? What could I have done differently?
And the reality is at this age, probably nothing. The reason it has ended is more than likely nothing that they did wrong or said.
Teens change their minds like (I was going to say underwear!) – pretty often. One minute everything is fine and the next it’s all over.
This leads me to this heading. We know as parents that our teens will have many and several relationships before they find ‘the one’. As my mum always used to say ‘You have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince’.
But this is not something that should be offered in terms of making the situation better. They don’t want to hear this. They don’t want to discuss a replacement or finding someone else. They want the love of their life to change their mind and say it’s all back on again.
This is not something that should be encouraged. Unless it’s a very long-term relationship and this is a minor blip. Otherwise, I would suggest that all contact be broken. If they have ended it once out of the blue they will do it again.
If items need to be returned try and do this without contact.
Remember you can bring as much stuff as you want, no one is going to tell you to get rid of it. However, chances are you are going to be sharing. Half the space is theirs, they don’t want to be tripping over your stuff all year. And neither do you. Bring items that are going to add comfort but not create clutter.
It’s hard as a parent to see my son so upset. You want to make everything better and take the heartache away. The best way to do this is to keep checking in with them. Make sure they are eating. No appetite is normal after a breakup. Try and give basic food. If cereal is what works then just go with that.
They’re not going to starve, so if we can just try and encourage them to eat anything. We live in a society where it’s sometimes felt that men and boys shouldn’t be upset and need to be strong. This is sometimes the case but teenage boys are more sensitive than they used to be. It’s okay for them to be upset. Try not to rush the process.
Life Will Get Easier
The process as I say can’t be rushed. Try not to be ‘Come on, why are you still moping around?’ It is going to take time, especially depending on the length of time of the relationship. The first day is not the worst. The first day is full of shock. No doubt the most amount of tears. But the following days are a rollercoaster of emotions, rejection, remorse, and devastation.
As the days go by, it gets a little easier. You need to keep checking in with them. They more than likely won’t want to talk about it or discuss it with you but that doesn’t mean you stop asking. It’s difficult for them to see how life can be better. This is why no matter how strong you think your son is you must have a difficult conversation about mental health.
It’s never an answer or an option to anything. It’s never the solution no matter how bad they think things are. If they’re not willing or able to talk to you, try and get their friends on board. Encourage continuity of school and normal day-to-day proceedings. Lying in bed, and not getting dressed is not the answer. Hard as it definitely is, facing their ex is the best policy. Not up close and talking to them, will only encourage a possible reunion. But if they attend the same school, your son needs to go to school and not avoid the situation.
All Part of Growing Up
As I said, teens definitely don’t want to hear that it’s part of life, it will get easier, if you weren’t going to marry her. Even as time passes and things do get easier they still don’t want to hear you saying that. The reality is that it is part of growing up. Learning not only to deal and cope with rejection but also when the roles are reversed. That it is ok to end a relationship if it’s no longer what you want.
Learning to cope in a whole range of situations makes them become better adults. Life unfortunately is not always how we want it to be. Everyone is an individual and relationships end for all kinds of reasons.
Especially with teens, when their hormones are racing and they don’t know what they feel from one day to the next. So the ‘All part of growing up’ conversation might be a few weeks post breakup but it is worth having.
Are they upset at all?
To be honest this is nearly worse than no emotion at all in my opinion. I’m glad (and that seems a little odd, I know!) that my son was upset. It meant he was processing it. He was dealing with the rejection and the fact that it was over.
When they don’t want to talk about it or don’t at all seem upset there are two possible reasons for this.
They may not be upset because they could see or feel that the relationship was coming to an end and the feelings were mutual. Depending on the length of time in the relationship this is ok. Some things just come to a natural conclusion and everyone is happier that it is over. There will be moments when they will suddenly miss the other person. A movie on tv or a song will trigger a memory and bring it all back.
But on the other hand, if they seem not to be upset at all they may be in denial. This is not a good outcome. This prolongs the process of dealing with the breakup. It’s true that teenage romances can be on and off and back on again. But if you get the sense that it is over for good you need to gently and carefully keep reiterating this. This is again where mental health care needs to come into play. It’s important that they learn to accept that the relationship is over. The sooner that happens the easier things will be. But that is easier said than done. This scenario can take much longer to heal.
Whatever way your son has reacted to the break up the most important thing is that they know you are there to support them. Keep checking in with them and keep them busy. They no doubt will just want to lie in bed and feel sorry for themselves and this is ok. But only short-term.
Patience as a parent is our best way forward.
Don’t give up and be there for them.