The downside of Valentine’s Day is that it’s filled with rejection. Who hasn’t had a crush on someone who doesn’t know we even exist or asked people out on dates only to be told “No, thanks.” We’ve all been there, it hurts but it’s life and we don’t let it get us down or take it personally. It’s easy to be adult about it. But when your teenager first experiences the disappointment of an unrequited crush, it can be hard for us to put ourselves in their place. However, it’s important for us as parents to be as understanding as possible to help our kids get through something that can feel devastating to them. It’s hard to see your child unhappy. Unfortunately, this is just one of those situations where you are limited in how you can help. But you can make it just a little bit easier for them.
It’s important to never tell your child that they do not understand “what love is.” This makes light of your child’s situation and bringing that up in their moment of rejection will most probably not go well. It won’t reduce their pain, and might make your child feel as though you don’t take their concerns seriously. It might even put them off coming to you for advice in the future. Take it seriously – you’re an adult, you know that the road can be rocky but your child doesn’t know this yet. They can’t see that over their life love will have its ups and downs. This just happens to be their first down, and it hurts.
Crushes are deeply personal and rejection isn’t just painful, it can be embarrassing, so keep it private. It’s not cute or funny to make fun of your child and their first crush. Take their concerns seriously and never say anything that demeans or criticizes them.
Don’t encourage your child to belittle or be mean to someone if they’ve been rejected by them. It may be easy for you to say “Well, she’s not that great anyways”, but this is inappropriate and undermines anyone’s right to reject – after all, we all have a right to turn down offers and it’s not reflection of our character. Instead, try your best to get your child to understand that although they are allowed to be hurt, their crush is also allowed to say no. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person.
Of course, you could trot out the age-old clichés of “more fish in the sea” and “it will get better”, all of which are true but not necessarily the right things to say in the moment, because who wants to hear that when they’re upset? It’s a stressful time but if you’re there for your child, they’ll recover when they’re ready. They will have a lot more to look forward to and this will just be one of a series of learning experiences.