Perhaps you are slightly bemused to be waking up to the news that One Direction are breaking up and that you find yourself with a devastated youngster on your hands.
Perhaps you are bewildered, incredulous and exasperated by the sudden outpouring of grief over a boy band breaking up, when there are more important issues in life to be coming to terms with, but here are a few facts to use as anchors in the sea of despair bearing in mind that adolescence is a time of ‘big’ emotions that need your understanding.
Never, ever, underestimate the depths of adolescent emotion as teenagers are wired to feel high emotion and to feel almost obsessive about things, and passionate and impulsive in their first ‘crush.’ In these days of social media, Periscope, and YouTube youngsters can become involved in their first crush like never before. The days of simply reading a fan magazine about David Cassidy or The Osmonds and popping their photos on the wall are long gone.
Children waking up this morning will feel a sense of loss and grief and to them, it is real, and incredibly painful.
The last thing you want to do as a parent is to just think it’s silly and to laugh at your child if they are really upset about this because their feelings will be very real to them.
If you choose to laugh, belittle or tease them about their feelings then you are damaging their self esteem and not showing them respect. Also your child will learn not to trust you with their ‘big’ emotions and will not tell you when they are worried, confused, upset or grieving about other things in their life or when they are really struggling with other strong feelings.
What to do:
I remember my own daughter being upset when S Club 7 broke up so I think it’s a good idea to take a step back from your own thoughts about simply a boy band splitting up and focus on supporting your emotional teen or pre teen in a caring way.
Ask questions about ‘How are you feeling?’ and hold the space to allow your child to express their feelings in a safe place. Arm yourself with some tissues and take a step back – your job is to understand that they’re sad, even if you don’t understand why. If you think it’s an over-the-top reaction for the circumstances, that doesn’t matter.
You don’t need to console, you don’t need to give advice. You need to listen.
Your child just needs you to hear the message that says ‘I’m sad.’
Children who feel heard, feel understood and feel supported.
Try not to let them water the weeds of frenzy by taking to social media too much as some children put up pictures of self harming which can be dangerous and could encourage vulnerable girls to do the same but simply respect their feelings of loss and grief.
The Internet is awash with melodrama. Girls are sobbing on Vine videos, while on Twitter fans are competing to express the extent of their grief.
So don’t ban social media but do be your child’s parent and put boundaries around how much time you allow them to use it at this time ( and generally!) it’s not necessarily a good idea to slap an outright ban on the Internet, no matter how strongly you feel about its negative influence but limit it.
‘Talk & Teach’ your child that what they’re seeing on social media is a feeding frenzy of grief which really isn’t helpful.
See your role as a guiding one – use this as a blue print for teaching your children how to handle sadness and grief in a realistic and more balanced way.
Usually these feelings last for a few days but don’t rush your child through the process but remember the break-up of One Direction signals an end of an era for your child.
If the grieving goes on for longer than a couple of days it may be advisable to talk further and perhaps seek external help from your doctor or other professional.
Right now, grieving One Direction fans may not want to hear it, but for you as parents this does offer you a great opportunity to teach an important life lesson.
This is a gentle introduction to grief as your child doesn’t actually know any of their idols. And after all no one has actually died. See it as an opportunity to teach them about handling change.
Use this time as an incredible opportunity to show your child how to be more resilient.
Handling this with respect and common sense will teach your child about heartbreak when someone leaves them or breaks their heart.
So keep in all in perspective and simply help your child handle their emotions healthily.
Here’s a quick checklist
1. Encourage your child to have a good cry.
2. Talk about what they loved about their music and special memories & fun times that they can remember and celebrate.
3. Get them moving. Sitting in their room on the computer watching other kids hysterically crying is not helpful. Get them focused on something else – keep them busy.
4. Encourage them to share how they’re feeling with you and to be honest with you so you can check that they’re coping.
5. Use it as another opportunity to show your kindness, unconditional love and support for your child.