How Should Parents Treat a Daughter's Ex-Boyfriend After He Broke Up With Her?

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Parents often feel like they are walking on thin ice when their teenage daughter's boyfriend breaks up with her. Most importantly, parents need to support their daughter, but many don't want to ostracize or criticize the ex-boyfriend, especially if their daughter was partly to blame for the breakup. Parents can still treat the ex-boyfriend with kindness and courtesy, even if their daughter isn't happy about the situation.


Even if you feel angry or sad about the breakup, try not to pass judgment on the ex-boyfriend. This is especially important if he is close to your daughter's age, is still in high school, doesn't have a history of substance abuse, treated you with courtesy and treated your daughter with dignity and respect, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Ruth Peters at Sometimes teen relationships don't work out, so treating an ex-boyfriend with respect ensures that he won't hold ill-will against you. It might also reduce the amount of drama associated with the breakup, and help your daughter heal more quickly.


Just because your daughter's romantic relationship ended in a breakup doesn't mean that she won't still see or interact with her ex-boyfriend on occasion. Some teens wind up being better friends with their ex-lover once the emotional ups and downs of the relationship ends. Treat the ex-boyfriend with kindness, so he knows you don't hold any grudges. Be polite if he calls your home, works on school assignments with your daughter or offers to take her home after school. If there's no reason to distrust his motives or friend-based goals with your daughter, and it isn't making the breakup tougher on her, show him kindness.


If the relationship ended on bad terms, the ex-boyfriend treated your daughter poorly or your daughter is struggling to bounce back after the breakup, you might need to create some distance between you and the ex-boyfriend. This type of intervention isn't for you; it's for your daughter. If your daughter is still obsessed with her ex-boyfriend or tries to engage in unhealthy interactions with him, you must establish and enforce separation. Parents should set boundaries that teens must abide by -- before, during and after romantic relationships. It's OK for teens to react negatively to the boundaries, says relationship expert and author Dr. Gilda Carle on the Disney Family website. But, parents should hold to their values and encourage their daughter to engage in healthy habits.


If your daughter doesn't disclose the details of the breakup and keeps her feelings to herself, you need to be guarded if you still interact with the ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend might try to tell you his side of the story or blame your daughter for the breakup, but you don't know all the details. Ultimately, your allegiance is to your daughter. Avoid taking sides with the ex-boyfriend, and try to talk to your daughter about the issues. Even if your daughter is partially to blame for the breakup, it's not your place to play judge or referee. Encourage your daughter to open up to you, but keep the ex-boyfriend at arms length, until they are able to come to terms with the breakup.