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Understanding What Your Fairy Tales are Teaching Your Kids by Maria L. Hughes
If you didn’t know, growing up we gain a lot of our moral,
etiquette, and emotional training through the fictional work we come across.
This means that what we read or watch for the first decade of our life can
largely influence our entire world view for the rest of our lives. And that
includes your children even now. It may be fictional stories, but because we
are often able to connect to the characters in the stories, what they have to
say and the lessons they go through can have more of a significant impact than
just being told how we should behave or the proper ways to act. For the past
century much of the moral learning we gain when young, often come from the
stories our parents read to us, especially fairy tales in particular.
The problem is, because fairy tales have evolved and have
been written and rewritten hundreds of times, often times the message in them
gets skewed or we discover that they provide an entirely different message than
the original tale was giving. This becomes an issue when you want to make sure
your child takes away the right morality with the stories they are reading or
you are reading to them. So how can we make sure that our fairy tales are
teaching our kids the right lessons they need to know?
Reading any stories before your kids do is probably the
biggest option to stress; not only will you be able to see all that occurs in
the story, you will also be able to judge what kind of morals or lessons the
story provides. Knowing ahead of time that the version of Red Riding Hood you
have comes with a lesson on never traveling alone if you are a girl instead of
not talking to strangers can have a significant impact, not to mention likely
be something you wouldn’t want to totally expose to your child. So even with
fairy tales, proofreading the stories beforehand can save you a lot of problems
later. Proofreading can truly make all the difference, especially since many
versions of fairy tales weren’t originally developed for children.
Seek Them Out
You should always be on the lookout for versions of a fairy
tale that you might like your kids to read or for you to read to them. There
are a variety of children’s books out there that continually retell the stories
that most people know to be fairy tales, which means that there truly is a
version of almost every main fairy tale that appeals to every span of morals.
You think women should listen to their husbands and fathers, well Bluebeard
certainly has a few renditions for that. Or maybe you want to show your child
that if they keep at the hard work they will be rewarded, well there are plenty
of Cinderellastories for that too. It all comes down to a matter of looking out for them!
Don’t Confuse the Message
All too often in fictional work, there comes a time where
the hidden messages or morals in a book are only noticed by some people, while
other people will see the story in a different light. This has to do with our
own associations with the world from fictional work we read as a kid (an
interesting circle?) and what we get out of a story. This means when you are
looking through a story to decide whether you like the message it presents,
make sure you think of the story from your child’s point of view. They may take
away a completely different message from the story and not even realize it. You
may just see how love can conquer all, even death and sleep in Sleeping
Beauty, but your child may just see it as they need to have a man in their
life to truly start living.
Even with all we personally know about fairy tales, there is
always a new interpretation and re-imaginations emerging through movies, TV
Shows and books. So always be open to the new interpretations as you just might
find the stories that show the right morals you want to pass onto your kids.