I'm a Teenager: Here's How I'd Want a Parent to Help Me Through My First Breakup
In the first post for our new 'Teen Talk' column—articles written by teens to help parents understand what's really happening in their world—a teenager shares her breakup experience to help parents navigate how to help their own teens through their first heartbreak.
Young love is beautiful. Do you remember your first real healthy love? It was new, exciting, and felt like nothing in the world could go wrong when you were with that person. Young love, though, does not always last forever.
First, before I move forward, please allow me to share my little experience with love. I am a teenager who has just broken up with her first love and let me say heartbreak sucks. I was so wrapped up in my partner that I was more focused on him than myself. When I separated from my first love, I felt this sense of loneliness. I felt not only alone but as if I had lost a connection with myself. I subconsciously sacrificed being in love with myself for being in love with someone else. I'm going to let you in on a secret of how I overcame that feeling of loss within myself: Self-love. I saw my pain as an opportunity to fall in love with myself again. But I didn't come to this conclusion on my own. I would not have found self-love if it wasn't for encouragement from my family and the people around me.
Now, parents, this is where you come in to help your own teens through a heartbreak. My family's support was the key to me discovering that it was self-love I was lacking. They, in many ways, helped me through this loneliness, and hopefully, my experience will inspire you to come up with ways to support your teens.
Be Available and Supportive
To start, my mother was the driving force for me to explore who I was. She was the little voice out loud telling me to go out into the world, to be strong and independent. She was first the shoulder I cried on then the friend I vented to, and through all my emotions, she continued to give me the love that I needed. Your support as family is essential in helping all of us children through our pain.
Help Validate Our Feelings
My family shared stories of their first loves and made me feel validated in my feelings—they, too, had been in my same shoes. I was told to get comfortable, snuggle up, and get cozy with that heartbreak. That it is okay to be sad, hurt, upset, and you can visit those feelings but do not live in them. Young love is hard because it is easy to lose yourself; I know I did.
I was fortunate enough to have parents who were open to discussing their own experiences with love and felt comfortable hearing about mine, but I understand that not all parents are this way. I think it's so important to listen to your teen, even if things get uncomfortable. When my mother was open about her young love, she made me feel accepted when I was in a vulnerable state. She connected to me on a deeper level, because she at that moment she wasn't just my mother, but she was also my friend. That openness was what I needed in that state. Even if you don't have a personal experience to share, be there to listen, nod along, and offer a hug.
Check-In and Listen
During the first week of my heartbreak I would not shut up about my ex-boyfriend, but the circle of support I had never once made me feel wrong about expressing my inner thoughts. I was allowed to feel comfortable in that pain at first, which lead me to allow myself to let it go. My family distracted me by asking if I wanted to go shopping. When I turned down the offer, they followed up by telling me I could have anything I wanted for dinner. Their persistent check-ins and support are what tipped the scales. My father, who typically does not share his food, offered me his tacos the next morning. This may not seem important to you, but it was to me. It was the little things my parents did that made the difference in making me feel loved during a time when I felt lost.
The Bottom Line
Take your child's heartbreak and use it as a chance to support them. Show that they are beyond loved and will never be truly alone because they have you. Please share your stories and connect with them on a deeper level. Be there for them in big and small ways because even if they do not recognize it at first, trust me, it will make a difference. The little things my parents did helped me through my breakup and hopefully, you will help your teens through theirs.
Arianna Skinner is an 18-year-old Air-Force Military brat. She is entering her second year at San Antonio College in the spring. She is majoring in public relations with a minor in communications and hopes to join a public relations team for a corporate company upon graduation.