Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fairy Tales vs. Real Life OR Fairy Tales Demonstrating Real Life

Last week, Glenn Beck talked about fairy tales, specifically the Three Little Pigs. In Grimm's Fairy Tales, it's a macabre tale with the wolf eating two of the pigs (the fat, lazy one and his fiddling brother). When he is unable to blow down the house of the last, industrious pig, the wolf comes down the chimney, only to be boiled alive in a pot of water, apparently to be eaten by the third pig. Grisly, isn't it?

In the storybook that we have for our children, the first two pigs, who are lazy and use poor building materials, get away from the wolf and run to their brother's house which is made of bricks. The wolf tries to blow his house down but is thwarted by the sturdy construction of the house. Then the third pig then plays some tricks on the wolf showing how foolish the wolf is.

Beck's point was that we have dumbed down these stories. We are afraid of scaring our children, so we take out the parts that might make them afraid. The thing is, though, doing that leads our children to believe that real life doesn't have anything bad and scary in it. And it does.

At what point do we tell our children the truth: that there is a Big, Bad Wolf, and he wants to eat us? I've visited this idea before with regards to Bible stories, and I wanted to discuss it again. My oldest child is not yet five, and I won't play Disney's Beauty and the Beast for her because of the scene when the townsfolk storm the castle; it would terrify her. But bad things do happen in this world, and children are not protected from them just because they are children. Just at what happened in Japan: a lot of children died, and a lot of children lost their parents. They have experienced things that children shouldn't...but we live in a fallen world.

I think there is a fine line for us parents to walk in this regard. Our children need to know that there are bad people and that bad things happen, but I think we need to be careful how much detail we give them. And I think the information that we share needs to be child-specific. What Sarah Beth cannot handle, maybe Daniel can....when he reaches her age.

What do you think?


Laura said...

I think you are right. There are lots of things that we don't share with our children, including some of the Bible. We just skip over things the story of Tamar, for example. I think it's important to share or not share things based on each child's age, maturity, personality, etc. I completely agree with you that children need to understand that there is a "Big, Bad Wolf", like you said, and it's definitely possible to break it to them gently without terrorizing them.

Nikki said...

Thanks, Laura. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Dawn@One Faithful Mom said...

Boy have I struggled in this area! I was not raised in a Christain home, and was allowed to watch/read/listne to anything I wanted. I was reading Stephen King's Shining at the ripe old age of 11.
So I am super vigilent about my own kids. I have to be careful not to get legalistic in my rules; there are certainly things we don't watch. They don't see any movies with profanity in them, not one single word, or anything that takes God's Name in vain. This rules out most everything these days!
It is hard...I have 2 grown young men...23 and 20...who make their own decisions. They are conservative compared to most young people today, and make good decisions. I hope they will protect their children the way we protected them.
Children today are exposed to way too much way too young!!

Nikki said...

It's hard for me, too, not to be legalistic. At least, you know that what you're doing works because you can see it in your oldest boys.

Tracey said...

I agree with your conclusion - that we teach our children these things at age-appropriate times, in carefully monitored situations, and with an eye on their individual emotional development.

For example, my younger daughter has recently been struggling with bad dreams, so I'm being very careful about the books we read and any media she watches, especially close to bedtime.

Hope you have a nice weekend!

Nikki said...

Tracey, bad dreams? Oh, that's not any fun. I hope that she conquers those quickly.