originally published on April 16, 2001; updated May 15, 2021
Dear Sex Ed Mom,
My shy, 17-year-old son has just been through two break ups and is suffering so. He is so depressed because he really loved the person he was dating. He doesn’t want to talk about it but I need to do something. What can I do?
–Mom of Brokenhearted
Dear Mom of Brokenhearted,
Ah yes, this is probably the toughest part of parenting — watching your kids have their hearts broken. Almost everyone has gone through this and unfortunately there is no magic cure or pill you can give to your son. He will need to grieve and may not want to talk to anyone about it for a while. That doesn’t mean you just have to sit back and watch him suffer though. Here are some suggestions that might help your son to heal faster and eventually snap him out of his depression.
Explain the situation to your son’s father or another adult male whom your son has a close relationship. Ask him if he would be willing to talk to your son about the relationship break ups he went through as a teen and beyond (maybe he could even take your son to a movie to get him out of the house). This will help your son realize that he is not alone; break ups happen to everyone. He will also see that he will survive to love again; just as his dad (or adult male friend) did.
Once your son is ready to talk to you about it, you should also share with him the break ups you went through as a teen or adult. (Of course if you didn’t have any, it is okay to share another person’s story).
Sharing and passing on break up stories can also be introduced to younger kids when you first start discussing what dating is all about. This way, they might be a little better prepared for future break ups. And they will remember that when relationships end it can be a difficult process, but one most of us survive and learn from.
Thanks for the great question and I’ll be thinking “heart mending” thoughts for your son.