The first cut is always the deepest. How you handle your child’s first love (and crush) can help or hinder your relationship and even their development.
Remember your first experiences of falling in love, with all the intense jubilation, crashing disappointment and stomach-wrenching early fumblings, not to mention agony, that go hand in hand with this inevitable rite of passage? Now it’s time to deal with your child’s first love.
Help yourself through the crush
- It’s normal. You won’t be able to stop it so don’t alienate your child by forbidding contact or punishing them.
- Keep it where you can see it. Invite the loved one over and make them feel welcome in your home. It’s better than them sneaking out into public areas or going behind your back.
- If the crush seems to take over your child’s life, meaning that they’re losing friends, their school work is suffering, they’ve given up hobbies or are invading someone’s privacy, consider getting the help of a trained counsellor or psychologist.
- First-love relationships are invariably on-again, off-again affairs, so brace yourself for a bumpy ride. And don’t bad-mouth the love interest if they break up. By tomorrow, it could be back on again and your child won’t forgive you for what you’ve said about their ‘true love’.
Help your child through the heartache
- Don’t underestimate how they feel, and don’t dismiss their pain as being insignificant.
- Let them know that just because the first relationship is over, it doesn’t mean they’ll never find love again.
- Let your child know that you’re there for them: and be prepared to listen or just hang out.
- Encourage them to see their friends and to make contact with those they might have lost touch with in the course of the relationship.
- Let them know they don’t have to pretend to be fine.
- Encourage them to fill the space left in their life by taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill.
- Encourage them to spend some time alone before throwing themselves into another relationship or seeking affirmation from others.
- Let them wallow: don’t moan about the sad songs they want to play.
- Remind them that getting your heart broken for the first time is a fact of life and that no one is immune. If it hadn’t happened now, it would always be waiting for them down the road.