Should parents keep away their teenage children from falling in love?
“Honor killing” is a term which is very commonly used in the villages of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan, and people associated with this crime are known to be absolutely remorseless as the pride of their community is much greater than the lives of their own daughter or son. But such a term being used and put into action in a state like Kerala, where we claim to have almost 100% literacy, where different communities and religions claim to live in harmony was quite shocking and surprising. Father kills his 21 years old daughter just a day before her marriage and the reason being, the marriage was of her choice.
Let that be Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan or Kerala, the question that such incidents leave us behind with is, choosing life partner for oneself a crime? Is loving someone a crime? or to put it a better way, loving someone outside the community a crime? Should we stop our children from identifying the most beautiful emotion of mankind, LOVE?
Well on the other side, with teenage infatuations on a high, infatuations being misunderstood as love, physical attractions being misunderstood as love and hasty and impulsive decisions for marriages and such marriages being broken quickly, we as parents are in a fix, should we even talk about or encourage talking about such emotions or feelings.
The easiest approach most of us take is to suppress the feelings, not let children talk about their opinion on this, not give them an opportunity to get exposed to the opposite sex, keep a control over their relationships and friendships and finally, if we find them in a relationship with someone, cutting their mode of communication off.
No matter however modern we become in our outlook, the word ‘love’ creates an aversion in our minds, as from time immemorial, it has always been associated with lust and physical attraction. The concept of love marriages is still not socially accepted as parents are skeptical to get their children married in a different culture or community and hence this feeling or concept is less talked about at home. As parents, we stand perplexed when teenagers or young adults talk to us on their infatuations, relationships, instead of helping them identify their true feelings, we either suppress them or keep them at bay.
Most teenagers confuse infatuation with true love. Most of the times it’s just the physical attraction that makes them supposedly feel so. Sometimes, in case of young adults, it might be genuine also, as parents we are so obsessed that we tend to oppress our children’s sense of freedom, while trying to stuff our dreams and thoughts on to them.
And hence, when a young adult or a teenager comes home saying he/ she is in love, the first reaction is shock followed by shelling, insults, taunts and what not, and in worst cases “Honor killing”. I feel as adults and as parents, it’s our responsibility to develop a close bond with our children, help them identify their true feelings, make them understand what their body, mind and soul is going through, teach them how to love and care for themselves.
Now how do we go about telling them all this when they are just not ready to listen. Let’s wait for the next article on how to talk about love and other relationships to your teenage kid.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)