Can I fix my daughter’s broken heart?
MOST people will — if they’ve had children — recognise your pain. Yet they’re also probably thinking what I’m about to say: none of us can protect offspring from things that go bump in the night. From the moment a small child is woken by nightmares, through times when someone at school is mean, to exam stress, friendship issues and love problems, all parents can do is be calm and strong.
What we must remember is to teach our children resilience — the most precious gift any fairy godmother can bestow. Modern parenting has veered towards a fussy, ‘health and safety’ coddling family life. But no imaginary high-viz jacket can protect our children from emotional ups and downs.
And just as we need to let them play without fretting about germs, so we must warn that hurts and disappointments may make them miserable in school, college, work — and love. Bad things will happen, so they need to be forewarned. They may not be fully forearmed, but at least they won’t be surprised.
You use an old-fashioned term about your daughter’s ex: cad. But is he? He behaved badly and hurt your daughter, but it all sounds quite normal, especially when still at college with all the world ahead. The young people were dating, not engaged.
His behaviour makes him someone who has acted as countless young (and not so young) men and women have done before — hurting others. It doesn’t make him a nasty person. The guy who charmed your family is the same one who decided he was out of love — neither your judgment nor his actions were out of the ordinary. And it’s normal for you to despise him!
You can do nothing — except assure her this will pass. Watch her moods, encourage her to get on with work, life and friendships, and perhaps have a quiet, confidential word with her best friend so that you’d be alerted if the broken heart became something more serious. You could take her Christmas shopping and maybe splurge on something she wants but can’t afford. Encourage fun.
Veterans like you and me must accept that some damage cannot be ‘repaired’. I love U.S. singer Lucinda Williams. Her track Right In Time contains the line: ‘You left your mark on me, it’s permanent, a tattoo.’ And so it is. Tell your daughter that we brave, strong women learn to wear our inkings with pride.