My children love reading. We were at a book fair and one of my girls picked up a book filled with fairy tales. It prompted some of the other moms around to discuss whether "parents" that allowed their children to read fairy tales were doing them a disservice. Their main arguments seemed to be centered on two points:
1)That for young girls many of the fairy tales seemed to rely on a "prince charming" to arrive and save the day thus defeating the idea of feminine independence.
2)That there truly aren't "happily ever afters" in today's world and that by allowing our children to be exposed to those stories that we are setting them up for disappointment.
Do you let your kids' read fairy tales (or read those TO them?) Do you view them as a negative?
We love fairy tales. They are fun stories. Yes there are princes who save the day, but in some modern remakes the princess saves the prince (Tangled or Shrek). Besides according to DD, the prince is only there to dance with. And if you ask her what a princess is, "She has a crown and a dress!". That sounds about right to me.
Like all stories that we engage these will become a starting point for discussion I think.
I think it's silly. I guess they don't go to movies or read other books either because almost all of them have a happy ending whether it is a fairy tale or not. I guess they could limit their reading to biographies.
Mom to Lee, Jake, Brandon, Rocco
Stepmom to Ryan, Regan, Braden, Baley
Granddaughters Kylie 10/18/2010 & Aleya 4/22/2013
I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosopy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend. --Thomas Jefferson
We read fairy tales, they are engaging for kids and I encourage them to read whatever engages them. We talk about not needing princes to save the day, it is always a good learning opportunity. I really believe people that are concerned about things like this are bringing to much trouble into their lives. Read the story for what it is, it was never meant to be reality.
As far as "Happily ever after" I think we are living it, but it requires work and patience and perseverance. my kids know that and fairy tales are a great way to open conversations
Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson
We do read some of the classic fairy tales. As Tiven got older, she started asking questions about some of those things, and we talked about them. Sometimes we amend our stories with commentary about how that stepmom isn't a very nice person or why didn't the princess just do that job herself. Our kids also know that sometimes a story is, well, just a story. Not everything we read needs to be a life lesson. We also have a variety of "positive princess" books, too.
The Paper Bag Princess
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?
Princesses are NOT Quitters
The Princess Knight
The Ordinary Princess
And I'm a firm believer in "Happily Ever After." There are a lot of ways to be happy forever and doesn't have to involve a man taking care of us. Sometimes Happily Ever After means ditching the nasty lazy good-for-nothing and never again having your children listen to screaming adults when they should be sleeping. Sometimes Happily Ever After is something we never dreamed happening to us, like a friend who happened to pick up a brochure about international adoption and became a single mom.
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I don't think there is anything wrong with fairy tales. If the concern is that they are anti-feminist... Well, I don't think the odd story is going to undermine the life and example you live around them.
As for "happily ever after"... Sure, things don't always go so perfectly, but there is nothing wrong with having those aspirations. I don't think young kids need to know that life sucks sometimes, relationships fail sometimes, etc. And I agree with Lisa, that I am living a "happily ever after" - not the fairy tales variety, but the real life kind that involves a good (though not perfect) man, wonderful kids, hard work, loyalty, and all those other good things
I think this sounds like a "first world problem" and "white people guilt". problem. Fairy tales are fun. Childhood should be fun. I feel bad for any kid who has to live knowing that crap happens in the world on a constant basis. I never knew the everyday bad stuff as a kid and I'm no worse for it. I think it is fine to discuss the era most of these were written in and that women did not have the choices they do today but all in all it's fine to me.
Mom to E and C
I, for one, don't see anything wrong with wanting someone to take care of you and live happily ever after, whether it's a boy or a girl. Who wouldn't want that? Independence is great, but if someone finds their Prince Charming or Princess Charming then all the better.
I think its fair to bring up the concerns about princesses and fairy tales. I have only one daughter who is seriously in love with princesses....interestingly enough she is also the one who seems to think its cool to rely on boys to fix things. I was flabbergasted one day at my in-laws...a toy had broken, something was stuck and she said "We need to go get a boy to fix this" Where woudl she get this message from? I didn't teach her that....i've never told her that. So i had to swiftly tell her that we didn't need a boy to fix this problem, we could do it ourselves.
Mind you she was 3 at the time so plenty of time to right this, lots of strong female role models IRL and we don't reinforce those notions at home.
But anything that does reinforce that boys fix the problems is not really great in my book. Traditional fairly tales definitely rely on this plot alot. Also due to their simplistic nature (i mean their short and not complex, which is overall a positive thing for children) it can seem to be sending the message that "happily ever after" = "finding a man". I definitely don't want that to be the ultimate message either. Happiness is so much more than just that.
But i don't worry about fairy tales doing this to my daughters because they have more than enough other positive influence in their lives that this won't be the main message they ever get. I think they will eventually grow up and know that they are just fun stories.
I don't discourage my daughter from playing princess and watching the movies and everything else. I've bought her princess-y related gifts and whatnot before. But i don't over-emphasize this stuff either and purposely try to avoid that. Its just another toy/play thing in the house.
Cecilia Marie 1/10/10
Photo By Anne Schmidt Photography