Butterflies in the stomach, singing at all hours, showing a goofy smile, losing your appetite, crying for no reason… Does it ring a bell? These are some of the signs that could indicate that your teenager has fallen in love .
Maybe it’s your first time, but fear not! As parents we can accompany them at this stage too. How? With empathy, freedom and understanding.
Falling in love: the search for identity and independence from parents
That our son falls in love also says a lot about what moment he is in, and what he needs to express; it is, precisely, in that search for identity typical of adolescence. And although we believe that love and that search for identity have nothing to do with it, they do.
In this process in which our children find themselves towards the acquisition of who they feel they are, they differentiate themselves from their parents and build their own personality . And all this also happens through falling in love.
What happens is that little by little they become independent from their parents, as they establish links with other significant people for them; and we are not only talking about bonds of friendship, but also of deep bonds such as those that occur in love . In this way, they begin to feel that they love other people in a different way than “usual”, and they also fall in love.
We must accompany them as parents
On this path in which they discover that they feel different things for others, they begin to learn how people are loved, they differentiate themselves and they get a little closer to what they will become one day. As parents, it is important to accompany them in this process. But in what way?
Neither as friends nor as colleagues ; we are their parents, and that is our role. Although we want to approach them and understand them, we must do it from there. How?
Giving them confidence so that they come to us if they feel they need it and giving them the freedom and opportunity to live their life in their own way, to have their space and above all, allowing them to make mistakes in order to learn. This does not mean that the limits we maintain with them should not be maintained.
Find out how that love is living
Is it just a crush or is there already a relationship with the other person? I mean, is that love reciprocated? How does your son live this love? With joy, tranquility, illusion, anguish…?
Because these are very different situations that should be known. To find out, talk about it openly with him, in a relaxed and calm moment for both of you. Asking him but without overwhelming him if at any given moment he prefers not to open up.
On the other hand, it is important not to underestimate or invalidate their love or their feelings, with phrases like “that’s nonsense”, or “what do you know?”. Of course they know it, they know perfectly well what they feel, although the emotion itself leads them to magnify it.
Watch for the signs of a toxic relationship
In line with the previous point, it is important to be aware of possible warning signs that may indicate that our child is in a toxic relationship.
For example, we can observe if there is excessive control in the relationship (by one or both), such as looking at the other’s mobile, if mistrust, jealousy, behavior that seems strange to us, possessiveness, if we see that our son afraid to be himself…
If we detect some of these signs, it is best that we talk to our son and explain to us how he is really living that relationship, in order to help him.
Do not speak ill of the person with whom you have fallen in love
One thing is that our son’s relationship with his partner is toxic, and the other, different, that we do not like that person in question (but it is a healthy relationship). First we have to differentiate one thing from the other.
If we refer to the second case, it is better that we do not speak ill of that person, but that we try to understand our son’s reasons and stay out of it in that regard. Another thing will be that this person is really toxic or harmful to our child (there we must act), but we must try to be objective and respect.
Should we tell them about our experience when we were your age?
If our son falls in love and has doubts about how he feels, has questions, or even wants to know how we live that stage, it can also be beneficial for them to be honest . This is not essential that we do it, but if we have confidence with our son and we feel like it, we can do it.
It is about explaining to them as far as we want, and opening that personal facet to the point where we choose. Perhaps there our son has a mirror to look at and help him understand certain sensations he is now having, or relativize.
What if we want to meet that person?
If our son has fallen in love, and above all, if he is already beginning to have a relationship with that person, it is normal that as parents we want to meet him .
We can propose it to them when they have been together for a while (for example, “what would you think if [name] came to eat this weekend?”), but in the end, we have to understand that they will have to decide.
So, let’s give them freedom to decide but let’s propose it naturally. If they live it without feeling pressured, they are more likely to accept the proposal.
Provide a dose of reality: there is time for everything
We know that when we fall in love (especially as a teenager when it comes to first love), our minds go a little crazy. Falling in love is based on a great chemical and hormonal cascade in our brain and body.
That is why it is normal for our children to be like in a cloud, and that they idealize the other person, everything they are experiencing… As parents, yes, it is important that we give them a dose of reality as well.
Not to disappoint them but so that they can keep one foot on the ground (and be a little more objective), even if the other is in the sky. In this way, we can warn them of certain situations and offer them information and resources, even if they do not seem to pay attention to us.
What do we mean? For example, to try not to lose focus of studies, if we see them more clueless or just pending their new love. We can also encourage them to continue investing their time in other facets of their lives , such as their friends, their family or their hobbies . May that love not be the only thing in your life.
What if there is a breakup or a love disappointment?
The phase of falling in love can be very beautiful and intense, but when love ends, there is a breakup or disappointment in love, adolescents experience it with the same intensity, only now on the other side. They can be very sad , with the feeling that “no one else is going through this”, or that “no one can understand them”, that “the world has ended”.
And they really live it that way. But as parents, we know this too shall pass. It will be time then to be there to contain them, comfort them and offer them that hug they need.
We must empathize with their pain and validate it, because for them what they are experiencing is something very significant. But always providing that dose of reality, affection and infinite understanding, and teaching them to manage their emotions.
Learn to manage emotions and place the mind beyond
Good emotional management involves teaching our children to feel emotions consciously, looking for ways to channel them when they “overcome” them but also learning to relativize and activate reason from time to time, projecting themselves into the future and not the present more immediate.
They must know that what they feel right now, this intense anguish and sadness due to the breakup or loss, will not be the same as what they feel in a few days, weeks, etc. That emotions are volatile and change, although now they feel that nothing makes sense. Everything will pass, this too.
Photos | Cover (Freepik)