Just a few days 'til Valentine's Day. Non-stop teen emails scream for my romantic advice. Not sure how I became such an expert. Honestly, if a fortune teller sidled up to me in 7th grade and whispered "Some day, Annie, you will be a relationship guru sought after by thousands for your expansive knowledge of love," I'd have looked around to see which Popular Girl was messing with me. But that was then. For the past 17 years tweens, teens and adults assume I know a thing or two about love. Here are some "Hey Terra" questions I've recently answered:
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. 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?! - Lonely Beauty
Any guy I crush over does not feel the same about me. They always have a reason why I'm not "The One." What can I do to get guys to like me??? - Desperate
And just so you don't get the impression these are exclusively "girl" issues, check out these poignant queries from guys:
Whenever I see this girl that I'm really in love with I freeze up and don't know what to say. 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. - Freeze up Dude
I'm 15 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 get picked on and bullied for no reason). I've asked girls out a couple of times but they all rejected me. - Still Single
If one of these kids were your son or daughter of course you'd want to ease their suffering, but how? First recognize that we've all been too shy to talk to a crush and/or frustrated by our own boundless ineptitude. We've all felt lonely, desperate to be part of a couple, and crazy jealous of a friend who had a bf/gf. Then there was the inescapable dread of certainty that no one would fall in love with us... ever!
If Valentine's Day is bringing your kid down, be empathetic. Take the lead and open a respectful conversation about it. This could be a great opportunity to show some compassion and understanding. That's going to make your child feel better while it strengthens your bond. Please do not joke about, trivialize or invalidate their pain. Teen angst is real and it hurts.
Remember your kid this Valentine's Day with something special. Of course you're not the love of his or her life, but when t(w)eens feel unloved and unlovable (like Freeze Up Dude and the gang) it's a nice thing to be reminded that Mom or Dad cares.