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Breaking up

Breaking up

To better understand

Many young people will have their first romantic experience during adolescence. These rich and intense relationships are often a great source of happiness for teens. With their partners, teens may have new experiences, forge their personality, and make plans for the future. However, being in a romantic relationship also brings with it the potential for heartbreak.

When you’re a teen, it’s especially difficult to go through a breakup. It can bring up a multitude of emotions including sadness, anger, guilt and more. Your teen may feel very empty, as though their pain will never end. While some heartbreaks last just a few days or weeks, others last for several months. Each teen will go through a breakup differently.

Some parents feel very helpless when their teen is going through these painful moments. But rest assured, there are things you can do to help them get through this difficult period while respecting their pace and their privacy.

Teens in a few numbers

According to data from the Québec Health Survey of High School Students (QHSHSS) 2016-2017, in the Montérégie region, just 4 in 10 teens had had a romantic relationship in the previous 12 months.

To better support

Communication

  • Validate any emotions they express (for example, “it’s normal to feel sad.”).
  • Ask your teen what you can do to help them get through this difficult period.
  • Talk to your teen about different ways they can healthily manage their emotions (e.g. doing sports, meditating, calling friends, watching a movie to help them relax).

Supervision/Guidance

  • Keep an eye out for signs that persist over time and that could indicate that your teen is not doing well (for example, significant loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, loss of interest in all activities). Let them know your concerns and offer them resources appropriate to their needs. If you are concerned about your teen, don’t hesitate to contact the resources that could help you better support your teen (e.g. Tel-jeunes Parents, Info-Social 811, school counsellors).

Support

  • Offer your teen your support, for example by specifically telling them that they can confide in you at any time. Reassure your teen that this feeling will not last forever.
  • Avoid making light of their breakup, for example by saying “you’re so young; you’ll meet plenty of others!”. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand what they’re feeling.
  • Respect your teen’s privacy, in particular by avoiding asking them multiple questions about why they broke up and by giving them space to experience their emotions.
  • Practise active listening when your teen confides in you (for example, by holding their gaze and moving your head in response to what they say so they can see that you’re listening and understanding what they’re expressing).
  • Respect your teen’s pace. It will take some teens longer than others to get through a breakup, regardless how long the relationship lasted.
  • Inform your teen about resources they can consult if they feel the need (Tel-jeunes, Jeunesse J’écoute).

At home

  • Allow your teen to experience their emotions discretely at home, for example, by giving them private moments and moments of calm.
  • Give your teen opportunities to take their mind off things and have fun (e.g. family outings to a place your teen enjoys).

Tips and tricks

  • When appropriate, use humour to relax the atmosphere at home. Laughter can be the best medicine!

In brief

Going through a breakup can be particularly difficult, and even more so for teens. As a parent, you play an important part in helping your teen get through this difficult period, in particular by offering them your attentiveness and support without judging them. Be empathetic, put yourself in their shoes and respect their pace. Each teen will go through this period differently!

Resources and practical tools

1. For support:

If you are concerned about a situation, do not hesitate to reach out to a support worker or a healthcare professional:

Community organizations: family centre, youth centre, etc.

Some community organizations offer support programs for parents of teenagers. Call your local organization for information.

School staff members

2. To learn more:

Latest updates : November 2023

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