Helping Your Child Deal With the Pain of a Breakup

My daughter’s boyfriend broke up with her yesterday.  She’s known him for a while now and they usually just go to the park or to a game store and hang out.  She really loves him and cares for him.  This isn’t the first “boyfriend” she has had break up with her.  What made this so traumatic this time is that after constantly telling her how beautiful and wonderful she is, he told her that he was breaking up with her because he really loves her best friend and wants to go out with her instead.  The best friend, to her credit, told him to go fuck himself, as she would never do that a friend.  

A drama on Facebook played it’s self out with the boy posting to his status that he is a terrible person who should burn in hell for eternity (ah, teen drama!).  This sentiment was immediately seconded by all of my daughter’s friends in comments to his status.  I told Olivia that she can not try to ease his guilt because he needs to learn just what can result from his decisions.  

Olivia said that she felt that if she had just been able to spend more time with him, she could have kept him from wanting to go out with her friend.  It was time for a big life lesson.  I told her that she needed to know and understand right now that you CANNOT change anyone.  I told her that all she can do is be the best friend that she can be and give her love freely. People will only change when they, themselves, decide to change.  

We had a very long talk about this because I wanted to make sure she really understood.  I used her mom’s and my relationship as an example.  I told her that her mom never really seemed happy when we were married, dispite the fact that we loved each other very much.  I said that for years I thought that all I needed to do was to try just a littler harder to make her mom happy.  It never worked.  I explained that I finally discovered that it wasn’t within my power to make her mom happy; that her mom needed to discover why she was unhappy and then decide what to do about it.  Unfortunaltely, what made her happy was being with someone else who gave her whatever it was she felt she needed. I told Olivia that, even though that was very hard for me to deal with, I had to accept the fact that it wasn’t a failing in me that caused her mom to leave me; it was her mom’s decision.

I let her know that, even though it sucked that she was hurting so badly, these things will happen and that what she needs to do is to learn from them.  It was better than she learn this lesson now, at the tender age of 13, than much later, after years of marriage, as I did.

I think I got thorugh to her.  I will continue to gently reinforce this important lession.  


5 Responses to “Helping Your Child Deal With the Pain of a Breakup”

  1. 1 Brick Window April 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Parenting is so hard. But from this post, I can see you are doing a great job. Your kids are lucky to have you, Jay.

  2. 3 prosey April 5, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Sad as it is to watch, better that they learn these lessons early, without shielding them from the realities. There are days I feel there’s just not enough bubble-wrap in the world to protect those I love the most on this earth.

    I think you handled it just right. *nod* 🙂

    • 4 Jay Walker April 5, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      Bubble-wrap. Too bad they don’t make emotional bubble-wrap, but they can’t live in a bubble all their lives.

      Right now I’m dealing with two kids who are hurting from emotions caused by relationships and a dear friend who is hurting from long ago trauma. I feel so helpless and I’m moved to tears because there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I can do to make the hurt go away. If I could take it on all myself, I would gladly do so, but real life doesn’t allow for saviors.

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