My teenage son picked me up from work. As he pulled into traffic, he said quietly, “Laurie and I broke up today.” Laurie had been his steady girlfriend for nearly a year.
I had to say something, but I wasn’t sure what words would comfort him. One of the hardest parenting tasks I’ve experienced is in helping my sons get through the teenage dating years. Each one has responded differently to rejection. Each one has needed a different response from me.
I glanced at him and saw that he had tears flowing down his cheeks. I needed to understand the situation better, so I asked him, “What was her reason?”
“She said she needed space. That she wanted to date other boys. She wants to be friends.”
“And how do you feel about it?” I knew that was a stupid question; obviously he was hurting, but I also knew he had to verbalize his feelings in order to heal.
I let him talk on the drive. He wouldn’t talk about it once we arrived home. He didn’t want his father or older brothers to see him red-faced and tear-stained. I mostly listened. What he didn’t need to hear was that he was young and there was plenty of time to find a lasting relationship. I told him it would hurt for a while and that he probably couldn’t see it now, but time would bring healing. I told him I didn’t have a perfect answer for him, but if he wanted to talk some more, I was available.
My son is older now, and he did live through the rejection. He hasn’t found the right woman yet, but he does continue to share his feelings with me. Because I didn’t judge him or blame the teenage girl, he’s learned that he can use me as a sounding board. I treasure that relationship and am grateful that I apparently had a wise moment when he talked to me years ago.