Spoiler alert: if you’re one of the few who haven’t seen the original Disney movie “Frozen” you may wish to remedy that before reading on.
For those of us who have seen it a thousand times, please call to mind Anna’s primary love interest, Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. He is the youngest of thirteen sons, burdened with the inability to ascend his family's throne. Anna is next in line to the throne of Arendelle. Within hours of meeting Anna, Hans is mirroring her every movement. Hans totally gets Anna, he loves her crazy and finishes her “sandwiches”.
Hans proposes on the first day and, swept away by finally meeting her Prince Charming, Anna agrees immediately. When Anna’s sister Elsa quite sensibly points out that you can’t marry someone you just met (kudos to Disney for finally recognising this), Anna decides that Elsa is in the wrong. After Elsa flees into the icy mountains, her powers revealed, it is dependable Hans who is left in charge of the kingdom.
Fast forward to the end of the movie and Hans is standing over Elsa with his sword raised, ready to kill her to take control of Arendelle. We can only assume that Anna is next. Finally, Anna sees the rotter for who he is, hugs Elsa and punches Hans in the face. Phew.
Why should all parents watch that?
Because it’s highly likely that your child will meet a Hans one day.
A man or woman who steals your child’s heart instantly. A magic person who completes them, who they’ve been waiting their whole life to find. Their soulmate. Who they met last week. This Hans will have a tragic and piteous story about an ex-partner or a difficult childhood. And they will overwhelm your progeny with tales (and texts) of unending devotion.
These public displays of affection will continue until the Hans “hooks” your adult child. The hook may be moving in together, getting married or getting pregnant. A milestone relationship moment which means that the Hans has cemented their position in your child’s life. And untangling from him or her will be just that little bit more difficult.
At this stage, the Hans’ mask of chivalry and charisma will slip. But only when they are alone with your offspring. Instead of being wonderful, your son or daughter will become annoying to their new beau. The Hans will become critical and demanding, where once they were so loving and giving. If your child mentions this to you or starts to become concerned about their behaviour, the Hans will return to their initial, caring, state.
And your child will believe that the real Hans is the one they met. Not the one they see every day. Glimpses of the honeymoon Hans will encourage them to work harder, be better, do more to ensure that person returns. Unfortunately, what they won’t realise is that honeymoon Hans was the act. The real Hans is the bully who takes pleasure in putting their own needs before their partner’s in every way possible.
So how do we protect our children from a Hans?
If they’re young enough, why not watch Frozen together? Explain how love forms – that it’s based on trust, which can only develop with time and integrity. Teach them that you can’t really know someone until you’ve had a chance to see whether their behaviour is consistent and authentic. Teach them about boundaries and self-love. Perhaps then they will have the self-esteem to know they deserve a Kristoff instead.