Dear Ilana and Jess: The dreaded day has finally come: My 16-year-old daughter, Haley, has had her first heartbreak. I know it’s a rite of passage, but it’s an ugly one. How do I help her heal? — Grace
Dear Grace: This one stings, and we’re sorry that it’s Haley’s turn. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the breakup, the demise of first love is devastating. The fact of the matter is that there are a million ways to break a heart, and none of them are painless.
Although you want to fix her up, ignoring the pain is a rookie mistake. Pretending all is well won’t make it so. Don’t make light of Haley’s distress, and don’t behave as though it isn’t happening. For example, reminding Haley that she’s a teenager, who will go through many boyfriends, is totally unhelpful. It may well be true, but it doesn’t make things better for her in the here and now. It also minimizes her very real pain.
Keeping busy and maintaining structure is a helpful way to make life move forward. Encourage Haley to persist in her normal, daily routines, while also giving her time and space to rest, when she needs it. Balance is key.
Maybe you’re well versed in heartache. Maybe you’re not. Either way, you’re Haley’s parent. That means your input can only go so far. Let Haley listen to someone else who’s gone through it. Send her a TEDx talk on breakups. You can even suggest that she watch an interview of her favorite actress talking about the end of her first, big relationship. It’s easier to believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when you’re sure it exists.
Finally, help Haley make meaning by volunteering to support a worthy cause. It will keep her busy, give her perspective, elicit positive feelings, and will stand alone as a good deed. Google volunteer opportunities in your zip code, reach out to your house of worship, or ask around to find ways to give back in your area.
Say This: “Haley, I’m sorry. Know that it’s okay to cry and be sad. Keeping structure and routines helps us get through heartbreak. Take breaks throughout the day, but don’t abandon your schedule. Let’s look into some volunteer opportunities you can participate in this weekend. It will feel good to give time and attention to meaningful causes.”
Not That: “You have plenty of time to meet someone. Be patient!”
Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: https://cognitionbuilders.com. To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449488055.
DISTRIBUTED BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION