As the old song says, breaking up is hard to do. Is it harder for queer kids? Maybe not…but there may be some special considerations.
1. Acknowledge that this is real and that it hurts… Sometimes we grown-ups forget what it was like to be a teenager and have a tendency to downplay how significant these events and their associated feelings really are. Let your kid know you take this seriously and understand that they are hurting.
2. Be present and available… Your kid may not want to talk about it, but let them know you’re ready whenever they are. Try your best to do the delicate dance of checking in and backing off.
3. Be patient… This is a hard time for your teen, and healing may take longer than you expect. They will be moody and sensitive and probably even mean to you sometimes. But this, too, shall pass.
4. Be kind... Bring them tea. Make their favorite dinner. Show them pictures of puppies. Let them slack a little (more) on their chores. Give them space to be sad, but do what you can to lift their spirits.
5. Do as I say, not as I do… Breakups are hard for parents and I am not very good at them. Just like you, I hate for my kid to be sad. So I hover. And try to hug. Just read below to see what Lucy thinks of all that. Next time, I’ll try to follow our advice better.
1. Make sure they drink a lot of water… Tears can dehydrate you and diminish your electrolytes.
2. Make sure they know that their sexuality is not defined by their partner… Let them know that you still understand their validity as a queer person and will continue to support them.
3. Make sure they are safe… from their ex, from themselves, from bullies, from bigots. Keep an eye on them, and make sure that they won’t be in danger. If they have a history of self-harm or depression, make sure they do not have access to tools to act on any urges. If their ex displays violent or threatening behavior, report it. Encourage your child to be honest with you about any instances where they feel unsafe.
4. Give them some sage old-person advice… Encourage them to value themselves and to believe that they are more than one failed relationship and more than anyone else’s definition or opinion of them.
5. Give them space… Break-ups are hard, and they can be made harder by hovering parents checking in every three seconds. Your child is going through something big right now, so they’re going to be moody and probably not very appreciative of unsolicited advice or hugs. Let them listen to sad breakup songs, and let them cry during dinner because their ex’s favorite food was mac and cheese. Make sure they have time alone to heal. It’s going to be frustrating for you, but your kid will appreciate it.
Kirsten & Lucy are a parent-kid duo!
I’m Kirsten. I’ve been married to Richard for 20 years (!) and in addition to Lucy, we have 2 dogs and 4 ¾ cats (one of them only has 3 legs!). I work full-time at a non-profit social services agency. I’m basically addicted to Instagram and I love to read, bake, and make art. I’m dying to get a new tattoo. Suggestions? Find me on Instagram or Twitter @kjerstieb.
I’m Lucy, I’m 15, I’m queer, and I have a real passion for making sure that dogs know they are loved. I post stuff on instagram @yung_olson
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