I just read a review of a new book, Princess Recovery: A How-To Guide to Raising, Strong Empowered Girls Who Can Create Their Own Happily Afters. While this isn’t the first critical analysis of fairy tales, based on the review, I think the book gives a refreshing approach to how to deal with these stories in our children’s lives.
I, like this author, struggle a bit with reading fairy tales to my daughter. Not only are they unrealistic about love, e.g., the prince meets the heroine, immediately falls madly in love, and they live happily ever; but the emphasis on beauty as the heroine’s main virtue is unsettling at best. I’ve toyed with the idea of throwing the stories away. But either out of sheer laziness or some something deeper I can’t put my finger on, I’ve kept them and read them from time to time.
I haven’t yet read Princess Recovery, but based on the review, I sense that I’m going to dig the author’s approach. Why? Because while she recognizes the issues with fairy tales – and the modern day versions of them, e.g., Kim Kardashian’s life – she doesn’t think the answer is to ban them from our kids’ lives. Rather we should explain the great aspects of these stories, as well as our problems with them to our kids. Sure, we may scoff at the quickie nature of Cinderella’s marriage, but we may also applaud her desire to to get herself out of her crappy status in life.
I find this very refreshing. No matter what we do to shelter our kids, they’re going to be exposed to things we don’t like. So it’s worthless to ban them. Instead we need to help our children understand what we like or don’t like about what they’re exposed to, in this case fairy tales. Not only will we end up raising girls who value themselves based on more than their looks, but we’ll help turn them into critical thinkers too.
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