A recent study in Britain has revealed that one in five parents have stopped reading classic fairytales such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Rapunzel because they send bad messages to their children.
One third of parents said their children have been left in tears after hearing the gruesome details of Little Red Riding Hood.
And nearly half of mothers and fathers refuse to read Rumplestiltskin to their kids as the themes of the story are kidnapping and execution.
Similarly, Goldilocks and the Three Bears was also a tale likely to be left on the book shelf as parents felt it condones stealing.
The poll found a quarter of parents polled wouldn’t consider reading a fairytale to their child until they had reached the age of five, as they prompt too many awkward questions from their offspring.
And 52 per cent of the parents said Cinderella didn’t send a good message to their children as it portrays a young woman doing housework all day.
I wonder if part of the problem is that parents simply assume that fairy tales are neat and clean, and carelessly read them to their children without realizing or remembering the darker undercurrents that many such tales possess.
I’m reminded of the first time I saw Princess Mononoke. Sitting behind me in the theatre was a family with two children who couldn’t have been older than 10. The parents had obviously brought the kids thinking that they were in for a cute little Disney-esque film, not realizing that it had several battle scenes featuring dismemberment and decapitation, and as those scenes played out, I could feel the tension growing behind me. They should’ve done a little more homework before deciding on the day’s entertainment.
We’ve read a few darker stories with our kids, and so far, no ill effects. They ask lots of questions about the bad guys and what happens to them, and we try to be as honest and forthright with them as possible while still downplaying the darkness. These are great stories, and we want our children to love them even from an early age. We’re just trying to do it in an appropriate and thoughtful manner.