Wellness Tips

Love, Hate, Murder: How to protect your child from becoming an obsessive, dangerous lover

The gory and gruesome manner in which a 16-year-old girl was recently stabbed to death by her 20-year-old boyfriend has left everyone in shock. As stories and plots unfold, it is being reported that the boy felt insulted by the girl and wanted to punish her. Online statistics reveal that approximately 40 percent of the female murder victims die at the hands of their former lover or present boyfriend or husband.
It is commonly assumed that men murder their wives or lovers (ex lovers) due to masculine possessiveness, which is triggered by sexual jealousy and anger. However, in the book ‘In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and Its Victims’ published by Oxford in 2008, authors Aaron Ben-Ze’ev and Ruhama Goussinsky have tried to understand the reality behind this terrible phenomenon. They feel that is ‘rather a deliberate act which is the result of an emotional ripeness that created the mental readiness for committing the murder as an act of profound despair that is ready to destroy the other even if it means destroying oneself.”
Trying to profile such men, Dr. Sameer Malhotra, Director and Head – Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket shares, “People with impulse dyscontrol and impatience traits and hyperactivity, substance misuse, fragile self esteem, or in a manic or psychotic state tend to get violent and aggressive.”
This brings us to the burning question – “Can we as parents bring up our sons and daughters differently to make them tough enough to withstand rejection, hatred and also identify red flags in a relationship?” Dr Sameer says that both boys and girls should be taught life skills including healthy assertiveness skills and coping skills, ability to counter negative thought processes with meaningful positives, identify red flags and get them adequately and timely addressed.
Dr Rachna Khanna Singh, Mental Wellness Expert, Relationship, Lifestyle & Stress Management Expert adds, “Dating, relationships, jealousy, love; at some point in life, we have all faced these. The only thing that matters is how we process it and move on. Talking about rejection and different emotions are elements not taught to a lot of children. Teaching kids about rejection allows them to be aware of all the things headed their way.
Having parents that children are able to talk to about anything and everything, listening to their perspective and having a safe place to share helps them to deal with all the problems thrown at me. When the child faces rejection it is essential for parents to validate their feelings. Eg. if they’re feeling disheartened say “I understand how difficult this must be for you”. Provide them comfort in the form of small gestures and words of motivation. As a parent, always enable them to see their strengths instead of criticising them. Listening without judgement and belittling their concerns is important.”
To enable children with coping skills, it is important to have them pursue healthy and constructive hobbies, have empathy and respect for others, focus on self improvisation helps. Healthy channelisation of energy through physical sports and exercises also helps. Yoga, mindfulness and meditation can be helpful.
Dr Rachna further adds, “Normalizing rejection helps children to understand that rejection is a normal part of life and everyone experiences it at some point or the other. Help them see rejection as a stepping stone toward improvement rather than a reflection of their abilities. Teaching your children that it is healthy to express their emotions openly and honestly, especially by creating a safe space where they feel comfortable is extremely important.”
It is important for children to see love with objectivity and reality. Movies and OTT can end up showing an over-the-top side of love, which is obsessing over lovers and seeking revenge in exchange for rejection. This can turn love into a loaded gun where they may start to associate their entirety to receiving love from someone. So let’s encourage positive behavior and resilience. Heartbreaks should be seen as heartbreaks and nothing more!

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