How Should Parents Deal With Teenage Heartbreak

My oldest bio kid is a moody person.  He alternates between sullen, annoyed and morose.  Every now and then, we have a rare glimpse of a smile.  Although I will say his mood has improved as he has gotten a little older.  He just graduated high school, and he seems happier. A little……

I was recently thinking about the times in his teen years when he has been at his mopiest, and every time his dark mood has somehow involved a girl.  Usually it is the worst right after a girl breaks up with him.  Which seems to always be how his relationships end.  I don’t think he has ever broken up with a girl, he always seems to be the one who is dumped.

So I wondered why he is always the dumpee and not the dumper.  Surely I talked to him about relationships.  I know I did.  When he would let me.  I did my best to teach him how to be kind and compassionate.  To respect the boundaries of his partner, to be respectful, and try to give 50/50 in a relationship.  Of course I can talk and talk, but he will only take in what he wants to take in.

And I will say that I have seen improvement in his interactions with females.  His girlfriends seem happier with him with each new girl he dates.  I think maybe he is learning how to be a better boyfriend with each new relationship.  Three girls ago he would have her visit at our house and he would proceed to play PS3 games she had no interest in while she just sat there.  That relationship didn’t last too long. Hmmmmm, I wonder why not??

The next one didn’t last too long either (thank goodness).  I was happy to see her go because she just made me uncomfortable.  She was a little too “touchy feely”, in my opinion and many times when I was making my “check ups” I would find her laying down on the couch with her head in his lap.  Maybe not so bad, but they were 16 and 15…a little young for that in my opinion.  She moved on pretty quickly, I guess I made to many “checks” when they were at my house…..not sure….

I really liked the next girl.  She came into our house to visit and interacted with the family in a friendly, open manner.  She actually spoke to the grownups, and interacted with my younger son as well.  She was funny, she was smart, she was very pretty, but alas she didn’t last that long either.  They dated for about 6 months.  A mutual friend of theirs told me that she broke up with him because she was ready to move into more “adult” physical relations and my son wasn’t…….whew…….dodged that bullet…….for now at least.

So, how should parents deal with teenage heartbreak?

So over the years I have had to deal with teenaged relationships and the heartbreak that follows when they end.  My advice to parents dealing with this is to give the kid a day or so, and then cautiously approach them……in the same manner you would approach a wounded animal……softly, slowly and calmly.

I NEVER NEVER said anything about more “fish in the sea” or how his feelings “weren’t real”.  I have always believed that teenage love feelings are JUST as strong as adult love feelings.  They aren’t as mature as adult feelings, but they are definitely just as strong, if not stronger with those raging hormones and all…..

My lines after bio kids heartbreaks have been things like, “why don’t you hang out with your squad instead”, and even “give it some time and it will get better.”  He usually perks up…a bit.  Especially when I point out all of his cool points and remind him that “karma is a bitch”, and one day he would be on top of the world and the girl might not.

I always tried to explain to him that his feelings are valid and that yes it sucks, but in time he will feel better.  I have encouraged him to invite friends over to play video games and have promised to feed them pizza and brownies.  I have tried to keep him busy to keep his mind off of his broken heart, and it works at times. Sometimes he still feels great pain for awhile. Each break up is a little different for him, as he matures and gets closer to adulthood.

I remember being a teenager and all of the drama, angst and difficulty it brought.  I remember having my heart broken.  I remember being in love.  I am one of those adults who believes teens can love each other and be in love.  Granted it may not be a mature love, but I believe it is love nonetheless.  Think about it those of you who are naysayers….your teen knows how to love you, and family members. So they know how to love.  Why can’t they have those same deep feelings for a boyfriend or girlfriend their own age?????

I shared with him the story of my “first love” and how that boy had broken my heart and dumped me for a girl named Jill.  (Those of you who went to high school with me get three guesses who I am talking about).  I told him how I had my “revenge” when after I graduated I ran into First Love boy and he wanted to date me again.  I had the karmic joy of telling him, “dream on buddy.”  That felt good.  (He liked that story, he even had a little gleam in his eye.)  His response was, “Yeah, when I am an Aerospace Engineer making the big bucks, she will be sorry.”  I did NOT dissuade him, who am I to steal his dream?????  (Ummmm, if she even remembers you dude, but okaaayy)…..

But the bottom line is that teenage heartbreak and young adult heartbreak are very real to our kids, and we should not discount it.  Just allow them to feel their feelings, and encourage and love them the best way you can.  This too shall pass….


Why do friendships break up?

I have been fortunate to have some amazing friends in my life.  I have also had the problem of not so great friends in my life. But even worse is when a wonderful friend turns out not to be so wonderful.  Or maybe you are excited about a new friendship and see a promising future, and somehow, something happens that pulls the rug out from under you and you have a sudden realization that it just wasn’t meant to be.

Interestingly, as I sat  down to write this I had a specific friendship in mind that I had to walk away from, but as I started writing, other situations came to mind, and I suddenly realized that I have been through a friendship break up quite a few times in my adult life.  But why do friendships break up?

A friendship breakup can be even more devastating than a breakup with a lover or boyfriend/girlfriend.  Sometimes we have been even more emotionally intimate with our friend than our lover/boyfriend/girlfriend, and so the loss of the friendship seems to cut a little deeper.

But as I think about it more deeply, I now realize that I have usually been the one to end the friendship.   In all of the cases where I have had to end a friendship it is because what was at first a seemingly wonderful, loving, friendship ended up being toxic to me. Let me explain.

Picture found on
Picture found on

My whole life people have felt comfortable talking to me about deeply personal things.  I have always found it interesting that people will tell me really intimate details of their lives without me even asking.  Sometimes it is people I don’t even know that well.  Something about my personality (I guess) makes people feel comfortable and able to talk openly.

To be honest, this morning I was looking in some high school yearbooks to find a certain teacher, and started reading the comments of people who signed my yearbooks.  Apparently even in high school people felt they were able to “really talk” to me, and that I would always listen to them.

This continued into my adult life, but unfortunately it has resulted in me having friendships that start out great, but I soon realize that the person I am friends with is toxic to me.  In one case I had a very close friend who I realized was toxic when she needed me to come break up her fights with her husband, or her daughter called me because mom and dad were fighting, or mom was drunk and had taken too many meds.  This woman stayed at our house many times, and while that woudl have been okay, the love and caring was never really given back.  The final straw was when she asked me about some confidential information I just couldn’t share with her, and I told her I couldn’t share it, and she just wouldn’t let it go.  She kept asking and asking me about it, and although I said I couldn’t talk about it, and that talking about it could jeopardize my job, and cause a difficult situation for my child, she still just “had to know” what had happened.  I finally realized that she would never give up asking for the information and I would never truly be able to share it….ever… I had to walk away.

That one really hurt because we had mutual friends, and had been very very close for about two years.  We also had a business together, and that was complicated to separate. In the end I just walked away from it, and started my own business.  I had to completely cut her off, and I cried about it for awhile.  To this day although we have friends in common, and I have thought about reaching out to her, I just know I can’t do that.

I think the most painful part of a breakup is the loss of what could have been.

picture found on pinterest
picture found on pinterest

I am actually currently grieving the loss of a friendship that I thought would be amazing for my life and my family’s life.  I have a friendship that I have invested a lot of time and energy and love into, but I just feel that it is a one sided relationship, and it won’t go where I thought it would go, and  have had to come to that sad realization.  This loss I have recently actually grieved over, and cried for a week after I realized it had to end.  Because I am a person who doesn’t like confrontation, and can’t just walk away in this case, I have had to resort to making it a “superficial” friendship.  I have slowed down communication, I am keeping conversations light, and stopped having deep heart to hearts.  I am hoping he will just lose interest in me and move on, but it may come down to an actual friendship breakup conversation and I am truly dreading that!

So I guess the bottom line is that friendships do break up, and they can be even more painful that a romantic relationship breakup.  I think we always know when it is time to move on, but we are sometimes reluctant to end a friendship.

Nontoxic people can become toxic.  Friendships can change  and become unhealthy, or no longer what we want.  We can change. Friends can change and start moving in different directions and we have to walk away.  Sometimes we just start having less and less in common with someone as time goes by. There are many different reasons we have to break up with a friend, but my advice is to always listen to your heart and gut and do what is best for you and your life.


“My gay mom is cool!”


Many years ago, when Karol and I started dating we had to keep everything hush hush.  She was still on Active Duty in the Navy, it was 2004, and at that time the policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was alive and well.  Plus I had recently divorced my husband,  and was worried about letting my children, who were 5 and 7 at the time to know I was in a relationship with her.  They knew we were best friends, and I decided to leave it at that.

She was stationed near Philadelphia with her kids, and my kids and I lived here in Hampton Roads Virginia.  In 2006 she was up for orders, and (thankfully) came back to this area, and we bought a house together.  When we bought the house, we had still not “told” our kids we were in a relationship, (we explained that we shared a room when we visited each other because we didn’t have a “spare” bedroom at each house), and we decided it was best for each of us to have our own bedroom.

So we had these clandestine “midnight” visits, after which I would sneak back to my room or she would sneak back to hers before the kids woke up.  Neither of us was “out” at our jobs, but we were to our close friends.  Looking back on it I think we were crazy, but it worked at the time, and I suppose it made things easier for the children to get used to living with new people.

We decided after living together for a year we would tell the children that we were actually a couple.  I was totally worried and stressed about it, and when I told them, they were like, “Um, we have known forever Mom.”  They were okay with me being in a relationship with a woman, and I was amazed and overjoyed!  We had actually prepared ourselves for the worst and realized we may need to sell our house and live apart if our kids freaked out.  Our number one priority was the children and how they would feel about our relationship.

Because I had been in a “traditional” marriage when my children were young I never forced the issue about them saying anything about Karol and my relationship to any adults or to their friends.  I always introduced Karol as my “friend”, and they did the same.  I heard them call her “my mom’s friend” when talking about her to others.

When Zachary was about 15, he began telling people his mom was “bi”.  Apparently people his age thought that was cool and I scored him some “cool points”.  I suppose technically I am “bi” in his mind since I was married to his dad and am now with a woman.  However, I don’t consider myself bisexual. To be honest I don’t even categorize myself, but if it made him feel comfortable, I was okay with him choosing a way to “describe” me.

Sometime during his Sophomore year, Karol brought me a paper that had Zack’s handwriting on it.  “Uh oh”, I said.  “Is this going to be bad?” (He was not the best student…) She said, “Just read it.”  She had seen this paper lying on the dining room table near Zack’s book bag and picked it up and read it.  She decided I should read it, and so she gave it to me. I held it in my hand and braced myself.

In his English class, he had been given an assignment to write about himself and his family.  In his own handwriting I read, “I found out a few years ago my mom is in a same gendered relationship.  I think that is cool. My mom is cool.”

I cried tears of joy.  He thought I was cool! That is a pretty amazing thing for a mom of a teenager to be considered cool by her kid!

Zack is now 18, and all of his friends are very well aware of the fact that he has two moms.  He calls Karol his “other mom”, and even gave her a “mother’s” pin after earning Eagle Scout.

I guess my worry was always misplaced.  I /we should have given our kids more credit. To be honest three out of our four kids are completely accepting of us and they call us their “moms”.  I will take it!

This photo is us with Zack and The Genius.  Our oldest son lives in Tennessee, but is with us in spirit in this photo.