I read an insightful blog post by Kathryn, discussing woman on woman snarky and vulgar behavior. Her conclusion that this inappropriate behavior must be addressed within oneself first is absolutely accurate. We are responsible for the way we behave. Like Kathryn, I was utterly appalled at the language and actions of these women toward each other. However, I'm not going to link the post that Kathryn discussed here. It doesn't deserve the additional page views.

This behavior seems to start at an early age. So I focused on early learning materials in this post. Albert Einstein said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” I wonder if these same fairy tales are teaching women to be mean to each other. To follow my train of thought, let’s examine a few. Cinderella was relegated to maid status by her  step-mother and step-sisters and had to sneak out to the ball. Sleeping Beauty was given the poison apple by the wicked fairy because she was not asked to be one of Sleeping Beauty's godmothers. And Snow White was to be executed, on her step-mother's orders, because Snow White had become the fairest in the land.

It would be unfair to conclude that all fairy tales teach women to be nasty to each other. Most provide the opportunity to talk with children about good versus evil or other morals presented on an age appropriate level. For instance, they could talk about step-parent and step-child relationships that are wonderful and fulfilling, unlike those the fairy tales depict. The Three Little Pigs teaches judgment with the choice of home building materials. Or, parents can talk about the consequences of lying as they read Rumpelstiltskin with their children. Hansel and Gretel offers the opportunity to discuss that some adults are bad and that children need to be alert. By being aware, they may be able to escape potential predators. 

It seems that girls may be learning to be mean to each other based on certain fairy tales. But the parents’ responsibility remains the same. They need to read with their children so that the messages that they would like their children to receive are discussed and understood. Expectations for the child’s behavior can be included in these discussions, as well. When the parents don't spend time reading or viewing the videos with their children, it allows the children to draw their own conclusions about appropriate versus inappropriate actions. 

Perhaps it is time to evaluate the fairy tales that we read to our children. We need to look for stories that fit today's world. The BedTime Story currently posted, The Trees Have Hearts, is a perfect example for teaching friendship, diversity and acceptance of people who may be different than oneself.

I'd like to hear from you which stories you read to your children and why. I'd also like to know whether you think fairy tales are teaching girls to be rude and vulgar toward each other. What other theories do you have related to the subject?




 


Comments

05/09/2013 8:16pm

This really has given me something to think about, as I always thought how fairy tales teach women to be rescued by a man. I never thought about girls being mean in fairy tales before this post, but it makes sense.

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PJ
05/09/2013 8:30pm

Thank you for your comment, Kimberly. I agree that most fairy tales teach girls they have to be rescued by men. I believe they also present an unrealistic idea of relationships. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful husband and do believe in happy marriages. But life isn't always "happily ever after." We all have ups and downs in our relationships.

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