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Dear Stavroula

My Teenage Son Is Lovesick and Heartbroken

Dear Stavroula,

My son is 16 years old and very hurt from a break up that occurred a few days ago. Since then he keeps locking himself in his room, avoids his friends, doesn’t talk to us, not even to his sister with whom he is very close. He just asks us to leave him alone. I see him suffering like this and I don’t know how to help him. I try to talk to him and comfort him, but he closes every door of communication. I am very afraid that this situation will affect him and he will fall behind in his studies because he is a very good student and has very high goals. I have suggested that we go to a psychologist but he doesn’t even want to hear it. What could I do to help him feel better?

Tasoula

 

Dear Tasoula,

Love in the period of adolescence is an unprecedented and exciting feeling. Naturally, these first teenage loves do not always have a happy ending and this can be particularly painful for the teenager who experiences rejection for the first time.

The teenager, being in a period of his life characterized by changes, uncertainty, and mental disturbance when he has to face romantic disappointment, many times exaggerates his feelings and experiences it as a disaster.

This is normal, because he has not yet learned to control and interpret his emotions as an adult, nor does he have defenses from past experiences.

However, as difficult as this period is, it is often very important, because this is how the teenager finally discovers himself.

Something similar may be happening in your case. Your child is forced to learn to deal with romantic rejection and through this process is led to maturity and to the realization of what he is looking for in a relationship.

Obviously, parents can also help and comfort their children during this difficult time in their lives, but many times they are not the best suited to do so.

As they themselves experience strong emotions watching their child suffer, they often do not find the right way to approach and listen to them. Many times they try to downplay his feelings or give advice, or they cannot hide their concern, that is, they behave in a way that most of the time does not offer the teenager any help.

Therefore, the first thing that would especially help your child is to give him space and time to process their emotions and be able to control them.

Let him know that you are there for him whenever he wants to talk to you without becoming tiresome, without asking him all the time how he is and if he is okay. Show him your love and interest in a subtle way. Make him his favorite food, give him a hug, tell him how much you love him.

If he decides to talk to you, listen carefully without offering solutions or criticizing what he says. Sometimes, feeling that someone else is listening and understanding is enough to deflate intense emotions and make one feel better.

It might also help if you talk to a psychologist and ask him what your attitude towards your suffering child should be. He will also be able to advise you on what to look out for in your son’s behavior if his condition makes you think about his health, especially if the condition lasts for more than a month or two, or if you suspect substance use.

The most important thing is to ensure that your son feels that you love him and support him unconditionally. However, this is not good to do without limits. If you find that your child has been neglecting his lessons or homework for a long time, talk to him calmly but firmly and talk with him about his future, letting him suggest what he thinks he should do so that he can achieve his goals.

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