Heartbreak Hotel – musings on surviving your teen’s first broken heart

“Summer lovin’ had me a blast – Summer lovin’ happened so fast…”

-Summer Nights, Grease

Anyone from “our” generation could sing this song in their sleep – right??  Isn’t it the song that just makes you think of summer romance, of teen first love, of John Travolta in a leather jacket??

Let’s all fantasize about the perfect young summer romance for just a second…

Were you thinking hand holding, midway rides with stolen kisses, late movies, and getting Dairy Queen?  Ok – well, maybe in the movie version….

The one thing I am willing to bet is that when you conjured up those long lost memories you didn’t think of the heartbreak that eventually followed –  because, unless you married the first person you dated (and I know it happens, but rarely) – you did experience heartbreak of some kind.  And it was horrible, awful, and gut wrenching.

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Well, we have just been through our first big heartbreak in our house.  Of course, privacy and respect for the individuals involved prevents me from going into specifics but I will tell you that watching your child experience this eventuality is very hard.

On the other side of it now, I think I learned a few things, and was shocked by a few emotions I felt.   These things are not scientific in any way, but just my musings on this lovely stage that you too will get to experience at some point with your teen.

Ok – here we go!

Be a good listener

I don’t know about you, but I am always trying to fix things.  And in fixing things, sometimes I am talk, talk, talking and not LISTENING.  Is that the mom instinct, the mom requirement, or am I just trying to control every situation for our kids??  I did learn that I just need to shut my mouth and let their words flow.  I was desperate to just get in there and make things better with advice,  experience and knowledge.  But – guess what?  They don’t care at this point how much experience you have, or what your thoughts are on the situation.  This is THEIR experience and it is a million miles away from what we experienced… or so they think.  Sometimes they just need to talk it out.  As much as I wanted to give my opinion, ask questions and provide advice, I tried my best to be silent and count my blessings that this kid just wanted to talk to us.  This is where we really get to know our kids and establish deeper bonds with them.  Listen.  Learn.  Love.

Be prepared for inner rage – YOURS not THEIRS

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Mama Bear and Papa Bear – it is the only way I can explain it.  You would do anything to protect your kids, right?  And when your kid is hurting – you want to just scream at the world.  “ROAR!!!!!”  You want to take the pain away… you want to make it all better.  Remember when they were little and something threw them off?  Usually it could be solved with a kiss and a long story before bed.   I was not prepared for just how protective I would feel.  Of course, I am talking about inner rage here – nothing my husband and I would have shared with our child or anyone but our closest friends. In private conversations together, we really needed to work through this.  How could someone / something hurt our child?

Well, this is LIFE.

And LIFE – although we want it to be perfect for our kids, is not.

My husband and I each understood how the other was feeling and quite honestly leaned on each other quite a bit.  I think it helped us feel less helpless in the situation.  This was our first time ever going through this too – we didn’t know what to do, how to handle things and the best way to make our child feel better.  Of course, our intellectual side knew that this was just something our child would need to go through alone.  I recognize it was a bit of a rite of passage.

Heartbreak is something we face as human beings.

 It will make them stronger, and kids are resilient.

The curse of SOCIAL MEDIA

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Ahhh – the added piece of social media.  YAY!!!

I am willing to bet, when you re-created the perfect summer romance from your past in your mind, it did not involve “posting, snapping, tweeting or gramming.”   Oh how lucky and unlucky our kids are that they get this added complication to their love lives.  When you are in love, it is broadcasted for all to see – the cute pics, the vsco moments and don’t forget the instagram bio.  Well, guess what?  When you break up, these things disappear.  Literally.  All traces of that person are deleted.  It is a new world for us old parents and it was interesting watching all of this unfold.  Our conversations with our child involved trying to persuade a break from social media.  I think this mostly fell on deaf ears.  Intellectually and emotionally we knew it would be best to leave these platforms alone for awhile.  We wanted a break to let things cool down in the real world and the social media world, but it seems now, they almost don’t know how to function without it.  As much as we felt defeated in this, we did try to encourage our child to keep in mind that a public platform is not a place to post personal or private details and to remain classy and kind.

Validating their Emotions

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Are you guilty of sometimes sweeping things under the rug?  I am a skeptic, and tend to be more negative in all aspects of life than my husband.  So – I tend to “pooh pooh” the emotional side of teen relationships more than I should.  As an adult with experience behind me, I know that our kids will go through MANY of these breakups over their dating life.  And I got a reminder with this particular break up that, “this shit is REAL.”  Meaning – this is their life at this time and I need to honour it and respect the feelings and emotions that come with it.  When I was 17 my feelings were real – they might have been young, and innocent and not jaded by experience – but they were real.  It was time for me to tap into that girl and remember what it felt like to have your heart broken.

In the end, it happened, and it will happen again many times I am sure in our home of three teens.  Will I handle it better next time?  I hope I have learned something, and that when it happens next I can offer more words of comfort, or a more compassionate listening ear.  We did our best – as we all do in parenting.  The secret our kids don’t think about when they rely on us for “best practices” as parents, is that we really don’t know what the hell we are doing.

As a wise person recently said to us, “we experience triumph and defeat, happiness and disappointment and we learn and grow from it all.  It isn’t always fair and it isn’t always right, but it shapes who we are and how we approach life in the future. ”

Wishing you Summa Lovin’

C

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