My 14 (almost 15 year old daughter), recently broke up with her first real boyfriend. She suffered her first broken heart. And I want to kill this boy. (Don’t go calling the police, I’m not really planning anything!)
The teenage years are hard enough without the complications that a physical relationship brings. Because of the physical part of the relationship our judgment gets clouded. It happens with adults too, but teenagers have no well of experience to draw from, they haven’t yet developed that internal voice that says, “Um, this isn’t good for me, this isn’t what a healthy relationship looks like.” Sure, they may have a certain instinct, but unfortunately the only way that internal voice develops is through experience.
I saw my daughter, my precious baby, being strung along, and on one level she knew it, but because she was physically invested and “hormonally charged” with this boy it was REALLY hard for her to see clearly. Whenever I said anything she got defensive. Her hormones made her gullible. I know, I know, this ALSO happens with adults, but again, with teenagers its made so much worse because of inexperience.
I could talk till I was blue in the face, but she knew better (even though she didn’t). In the end all I could do was calmly offer my opinions (without sounding too preachy) and wait for the ball to drop. And it did. Then all I could do was offer a shoulder to cry on and keep my “I-told-you-so’s” to myself. As parents, we want to swoop in like a superhero and make it all better. And that can be relatively easy to do when our children are little and they think we’re GOD. But as our kids get older the hurts are less of the “skinned knee” variety and more of the “I’m fat” “why isn’t my friend talking to me anymore?” kind. The struggles and hurts are more psychological and those are infinitely harder to kiss and make better.
It’s so frustrating to know you’re helpless to make the pain go away. It’s frustrating to know they will make mistakes and all you can do is watch and be there to help pick up the pieces. You hope you’ve imparted enough of your values to them that those mistakes aren’t too bad but there are no guarantees – not just in physical relationships, but also with friendships, drinking and drugs, etc… I wish I could stop the clock, to give her more time – give ME more time – to let her be “my little girl” a little longer, but it’s not going to happen.
Social media doesn’t help this at all. I think it actually speeds up the process because our kids are exposed to so much more – and even sometimes expose themselves (literally). Instead of one boy in English class asking her on a date, on Instagram or Kik she’s got 10 or 20 guys telling her she’s hot and would she send them a picture! Thankfully, to my knowledge, she has not sent anyone anything. In fact, she takes pleasure in sharing with me when she’s told one of these guys to get lost. I don’t know about you, but it’s unbelievably frightening for me.
I’ve encouraged her to take a good deal of time before she gets a new boyfriend. I’ve told her she needs to process what she liked and didn’t like about “this boy” – the way he treated her that she liked and didn’t like, what was healthy and respectful and what was not. I’ve told her this experience will help her when the next boy comes along, but that unless she takes the time to reflect, she may make the same mistakes again. I hope she takes my advice, and I hope next time she’ll realize her mom isn’t as “out of touch” or “ignorant” as she thought before. (And I’m also secretly hoping she takes my advice so that I can have a break too!)
Any advice you can give me on how to travel this minefield? I’m open to any suggestions!