Ask a Child and Family Professional
How can I support my son through a breakup?
It is difficult to see your teen upset or in distress. It can be particularly challenging watching your teen be negatively impacted by a relationship breakup because parents often feel helpless in the situation. Teens can experience very big and intense feelings during a breakup but it is important to remember that this is normal for adolescent development. Use this time as an opportunity to support and connect with your teen.
Here are a few tips to help you do this:
- Keep the focus on your teen. Let them decide when they talk to you and what they need from you. Don’t push them to talk about things that they aren’t ready to.
- Listen without trying to fix things. You can do this by listening more than you talk. Parents often want to fix things for their teens and do this by telling them what to do. Whilst there is a time and place for this, sometimes it’s okay to just sit and listen and be with your teen. That is enough to help them start to feel better.
- Validate their feelings. By acknowledging how your teen feels this can help them to feel heard and understood. Say things like “It sounds like you really liked this person.” “I can hear how sad this is making you feel right now.”
- Acknowledge the importance of the relationship to your teen. A relationship that might seem insignificant to us can feel like a big deal to our teens and it’s important to honour your teen’s feelings around this. If you minimise the relationship it can lead to your teen feeling unheard and shutting down the communication with you.
- Ask your teen what they need. Don’t make assumptions about what your teen needs- instead ask them.
- Problem Solve. If your teen has identified any challenges around the breakup then ask them if they would like some help to problem solve this. Ask for their input around what they think would be helpful before you share your ideas.
- Encourage your teen to take care of themselves. Give your teen gentle reminders to take care of themselves by doing things like spending time with friends, watching their favourite movies, engaging in exercise and talking about the breakup when they need to.
Child & Family Professional, The Benevolent Society
Speak with a professional now
We also partner with The Benevolent Society to offer free personalised one-on-one support for parents and carers of teens over the phone and online.
For more information: https://parents.au.reachout.com/one-on-one-support
We are Child and Family Professionals from The Benevolent Society, answering questions for the ReachOut Parents event: Ask a Child and Family Professional a Question