Q. I am a single mother and I have a 16-year-old son who has just broken up with his 15-year-old girlfriend. They were practically attached at the hip for eight months. Two weeks ago he found out that she’s been cheating on him (though I can’t imagine where she found the time!) They had a big fight and he broke up with her. Since then he’s been distraught, cannot concentrate on his studies, has been holed up in his room and is disinterested in going out with his friends. I told him that anyone who lies and cheats is not what he should want in a girl, but he got upset and told me he really loves her. I told him everyone goes through this and that I empathize with his feelings, but he’s been taking out his misery on me with a lot of anger. He thinks I don’t understand what he’s going through. I’m not sure anymore what to say or do. It’s times like this that I really wish he had a father to talk to. What do you think I should do?
A. I sympathize with both of you! First love practically guarantees first heartache, but although it’s true that we’ve all been through it, a teenager will never believe you really understand what he’s feeling. Any negative comments about his girlfriend, no matter how true, will just make him defend her and his choice of seeing her. As hard as it is to keep from giving advice or offering the wisdom of your experience, the best thing to do is just offer your love and support and let him know that as painful as it is now, it will get better with time. If he continues treating you angrily, know that he needs to get it out of his system and you may be the only one he can safely vent on. That too will pass. Let him know you are always ready to listen if and when he wants to talk. Try to encourage his studies without yelling at him. If there is a man in his life whom he trusts and respects, ask him if he might want to share his feelings with the man, but don’t push him if he doesn’t. You may think he needs fatherly advice more than he does. In the meantime, take solace in the fact that your son is capable of tender feelings for another. Now he just has to learn to make wiser decisions and that’s something best learned from his own experience. Good luck to both of you and I hope his heart mends quickly!
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