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February 2005
When Love is in the Air:
Helping your teens when they’re feeling “crushed”

by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

"If you notice that your teen is just not acting like him or herself, don’t be shy, ask what’s going on. But make sure you do it in a caring way so it sounds like a friendly invitation to talk, not an interrogation with a prosecutor."
If you’ve walked into a supermarket or a drugstore chain in the past week you’ve been hit by sumptuous displays of hearts and flowers. Yep, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and that means Spring isn’t far behind. A lot has changed since someone noted that “In Spring a young man’s fancy turns to love” but just ask any teacher and he or she will probably report that balmy weather (and more revealing clothing) still has the same effect on guys and girls today – when love is in the air everyone wants to feel the magic.

This is the time of year I am most likely to receive emails (sent to “Hey Terra”, my online persona) like these from teens who wish they had a boyfriend or a girlfriend:

 

Hey Terra,

My best friend has a great boyfriend. I'm happy for her, but I'm also extremely jealous and I feel like I can't find anyone. I'm definitely not ugly, so in other words I'm pretty, smart, funny, easygoing and friendly. But, why is it that I can't find a nice guy who is interested in me?

Click Here for Terra's Response

 

Hey Terra,

Any guy I crush over does not feel the same about me. They always have a reason why I'm not "the one." I need help! What can I do to get guys to like me???

Click Here for Terra's Response

And just so you don’t start thinking this is only a “girls” issue, here are two really poignant letters from guys:

Hey Terra,

Whenever I see this girl that I am in love with I freeze up and don't know what to say. I really love her and I would do anything in my power for her. Can you please give me some tips on what to say to her? I would really appreciate it.

Click Here for Terra's Response

 

Hey Terra,

I'm a 15 old guy and I'm still a single (?!). Ever since 8th grade I really wanted to be in a relationship because I really want to enrich my life and I really want to be with someone and share feelings and secrets and also we can support each other. The problem is that I'm not a popular guy and I'm rejected by many people at school (I used to be an outcast and I always got picked on and bullied for no reason). I've asked girls out a couple of times but they all rejected me.

Click Here for Terra's Response

Doesn’t reading these emails just take you back to when you were a teen? If any of these kids were your son or daughter, of course you’d want to ease their suffering, but how?

If you notice that your teen is just not acting like him or herself don’t be shy, ask what’s going on. But make sure you do it in a caring way so it sounds like a friendly invitation to talk, not an interrogation with a prosecutor. You might say something like this: “You seem kinda down. Anything you want to talk about?” No guarantees that your teen will open up to you (especially if you haven’t had many heart to heart talks recently) but it’s definitely worth the effort. Teens need to know that their parents are tuned in enough to notice when they aren’t feeling great.

If the cause is of a romantic nature don’t pry, but do your best to be a safe person for your son or daughter to talk to. Chances are that you know exactly what he or she is going through because you’ve been there, right?

Haven’t all of us had times when we were their age and we felt lonely, unloved, desperate to be part of a couple, jealous of friends who had a boyfriend/girlfriend, too shy to talk to a crush, and seriously convinced that no one would ever fall in love with us? We all know how painful, exhilarating and confusing it can be to have a crush, especially when your crush doesn’t feel the same way about you.

If Valentine’s Day brings sadness to your son or daughter because they don’t have a “special someone” in their lives yet, be empathetic. Take the lead and open a conversation about it. This could be a great chance to show some compassion and understanding. That’s going to make your child feel better and it will help strengthen the bond you two share.

One more thing, I’d highly recommend that you buy a Valentine and some chocolate for your son or daughter. True, you’re not the love of his or her life, but when you’re feeling unloved (like the teens who wrote these emails) it’s nice to know that Mom or Dad loves you.

In friendship,

Annie

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