Teenage love problems are not trivial; they are pivotal. I remember being a young teen and my first experiences with relationships, love, and heartbreak. Very difficult but useful lessons were learned through those experiences. But what made it more difficult than it should have been was anytime an adult in my life would brush off my teenage love problems as no big deal.
Adults make the mistake of forgetting how difficult their own teenage years were, complete with the trials of relationships and emotions. Too often they look at teen affection as “puppy love” or simply hormones. Think back to your first crush. Think about your first boyfriend or girlfriend. Do you remember how you felt? Do you remember how your emotions were all-encompassing? At that moment, for everything you felt, you felt it completely, with your entire heart and with all of your young abilities. That’s also why your first heartbreak was so terrible.
It is true that as you get older and have more life experience, you learn more about love. You may realize that your first crush wasn’t really love, or you may realize it was. But through experience you learn what love means and the consequences of it. You learn the difference between love and lust. You learn what a healthy relationship is and how to keep it working. But you have to start somewhere, and it all started with your teenage experiences with love.
When you have a teen in your life, whether it be your child, your student, a relative, etc., if they have a trusting friendship with you, at some point or another they are likely to ask you for help with their teenage love problems. You may hear, “My boyfriend dumped me, but I love him and I’m devastated without him,” or, “There’s this cute guy in my class but I don’t know how to tell if he likes me.” Perhaps, “I have a boyfriend, but I don’t like some things about him. Should I break up with him?” Whatever the questions may be, it is essential that you are there for them. Allow them to talk, give them honest answers, help them to figure out for themselves what they want to do, and give loving advice. Most importantly, don’t ever act like their love problems are trivial. To them this is the most important thing in the whole world. With their limited life experience they may also feel that if they don’t get this right their world will be over. Assure them that you are always there for them no matter what happens. Remind them that life will go on by using stories from your own experiences of when it seemed that everything was wrong yet life went on and it got better. But always allow them to feel their pain, to grieve, and to go through the emotional process.
When you provide an open atmosphere for the teenagers in your life to express their love problems, you play a crucial role in helping them make the best choices. Remember, love problems often lead to sex problems; which can lead to serious physical problems such as STDs, which cause a lifetime of health problems and could even lead to infertility, or on the flip side, unwanted teenage pregnancy. And let’s not forget the emotional tragedies that come from young sex, regret, guilt, and betrayal that can set up unhealthy relationships over a lifetime. The way to prevent these terrible things from happening is by being there for the teens in your life. Controlling them will do no good — they’re teenagers, they’ll rebel. However, being their friend that is there for them, that respects them, and understands their feelings is the best way to get through to them and help. Be the adult you always wanted in your life when you went through your own teenage love problems.