If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then the best way to help a teenager heal his broken heart is to make sure he never gets one. Keep him on lock-down till he’s about 30 to 35 if you’ve got yourself a compliant one — and you’re golden. It’s the only way. Protecting the heart from being broken in the first place guarantees you never have to help one heal. Problem solved!
There are, however, some of you with rebellious, uncontrollable teenagers who know how to turn doorknobs or escape by using their manners and asking permission to leave their room. If you fall into this category, then read on.
The life of a teenager can be challenging for everyone. Knowing how to effectively express what they’re feeling and why is often one of the most confusing undertakings known to teens — especially when it comes to a broken heart.
Whether it is a relationship that ended or the loss of a family pet, pain is pain and confusion is confusion. Mending the pieces of a heart shattered is no simple feat, regardless of the cause. How do you help your son or daughter deal with the aftermath of an event that will shape their world forever more?
The second you get wind that your daughter’s heart is hurting, stop whatever you’re doing and make yourself available to her. Let her know you’re there to support her and help her get through this no matter what.
Put to rest all of the salt-in-the-wound clichés like, “There are other fish in the sea.” While it may be true, the reality is this “fish” was her world for a period of time, and minimizing his presence can stymie her learning of coping and reasoning skills, as well as send the message her emotions and feelings are unimportant.
Being available to help your daughter process this milestone is a chance to strengthen your relationship with your teenager and earn her trust as well. Taking the time to be fully present with her expedites the healing process by increasing her self-worth. This seemingly small act has the potential to create a ripple that will travel through generations to come.
See the situation from your son’s perspective. Cast your memory back to when you were going through a similar hurt. Think about the advice you got from your parents ... and do the exact opposite. If by chance you were given good advice, then by all means, repurpose it to fit your son’s experience. Either way, by looking at life through the eyes of your teenager, you’ll be more sensitive to how you can best support the healing of your son’s heart.
Also be open enough to look at the situation from the heart-breaker’s perspective. Keep in mind that she is just as confused as your son and is also trying to do the best she can with the limited life experience she has. Never bash the one who walks away, but help your son uncover the lessons he can learn from the relationship. Guide him through identifying the characteristics he appreciated as well as the ones that didn’t serve him. This will be a lesson boosting self-confidence and will help lessen the pain of future heartaches.
Once you’re fully present with your broken-hearted teenager and are able to see the situation from all angles, really listen to what your child is saying. This is the most important step of healing and can either make the process smooth for your daughter or painful — it’s up to you. When you allow your child to really dig into and understand what’s happened, it hones her ability to problem-solve for herself and in her own way. It re-shapes and redefines the way she’ll experience future relationships.
Keep loving your teenager through it all — the ups, the downs, the spinning-heads and the horns holding up the halos. Effective communication is essential to every aspect of your bond with your teenager and is the most loving gift you can ever give him. It’s never too late — or too soon — to take the time to get to know the essence of your child. Learning how he operates and fostering his strengths and interests builds self-worth. When a teen feels unconditional acceptance at home, the need to find it in unhealthy situations is reduced, as is the broken heart recovery time.
Like algebra, it may take a little patience and practice to get in the flow of your family’s new life skills, but before you know it you and your teen will be talking about everything from quadratic equations to meeting the new love of his life.
Danica Trebel is a mom to two AMAZING teenage sons, a recovering perfectionist and a Life and Family Dynamics Coach. She specializes in helping families tune up their relationships through perspective, communication and faith www.danicatrebel.com