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Kids And Political Correctness – Part Two

The first part of this post talked about messages in kids’ books, and how some of them end up being lost, or even worse, our children take away the opposite of what was intended.

For example, princess stories probably imply that beauty comes from the inside in the form of kindness, but the message received from little girls (at least mine) is that beauty matters. Not too good a concept to hang on to for too long.

Another interesting thing about these stories, is that a girl (princess) only exists through marriage. Before she gets married, she doesn’t have any level of independence. She is a prisoner, in a posh jail, but jail nonetheless. Her so-called friends, step-parents, enemies, are all out to get her and she is defenseless. Until Prince Charming comes and saves the day! And by the way, he is also, always very handsome, because he too is kind. If only you could get that beauty comes from the inside, it would all make sense!

Equally disturbing is the fact that if you are a princess, you get married, and that’s that! There are exceptions, but not many, so by and large, wedlock seems to be the rule.

I am not a feminist, but that’s not a good message for my daughter who now answers to the question, “What do you want to do when you are a grown-up?”

“I want to marry a prince”

I am not trying to raise a gold digger. So I launch into a desperate attempt to set the record straight.

“It’s more important that you think about your college education, you are better alone than with the wrong person, you can stand on your own two feet, have a job, your own life, blahdiblahdiblah”

“Nooooo. I want to marry a prince!”

Ooookay, moving on . . .

Honestly, I don’t even know what should be in these books. Yesterday, I was reading one about a prince who marries a girl he thinks is a princess. But it turns out, she isn’t, she was only pretending. And guess what the prince says when he finds out? “I don’t care that you are not a princess, I love you for who you are” YEAH, RIGHT! Have you not watched any reality TV show lately? Of course, he cares! And he should. Because not for nothing, the fake princess has been lying to him, implying that he was vain and only interested in status. So not exactly the healthiest start of a relationship. Plus, I don’t want my daughter to think that she too, can marry a prince, even though she is no royalty. You can’t, baby, you just can’t. It’s not the way the world works.

Another recurring theme in all these stories is that stepmothers are evil. Well, yeah, that part has some truth. Glad there are some realistic life moments in these otherwise utopic stories. Mind you, they are called fairy tales, so maybe the hint is in the name . . .

Finally, I am wondering, why is there always a parent (or two) who dies in these books? What is it teaching our kids? Coping with loss? Understanding mortality? Cherish your family, they might not be around for as long as you think?

I have a suggestion to make to writers of these fairy-tales: if you are going to be all serious and grown-up, why not drop the doom and gloom about parents and concentrate on sending more realistic messages about self- worth (i.e., don’t need a prince to stand on my own two feet). If you really, really need to kill someone in order to have a good story, how about sending the evil stepmom “swimming with the fishes”. At least, we could then talk about what comes around goes around, karma’s a b#^* and all that.

Thankfully, some children’s authors have decided it was never too early to learn about real life. So recently, I have been reading some very interesting books to my daughter. A lot of it is flying over her head, but the multiple layers of morals do not escape my scrutiny! Some messages are really positive, like being smart will keep you out of trouble, being kind always pays off eventually, world domination is not about physical power but wittiness and understanding your environment – Yes! I read that in a kids’ book! Some messages are more practical, like, you can bulls$@t your way through life as long as you can keep it up, the best form of defense is attack, revenge is a dish best served cold. And the inevitable, an eye for an eye!

I just wished these guys’ next book would be a fairy tale.  No more princess feeling desperate in her ivory tower, hoping for a handsome prince to free her from the evil stepmom. That girl will kick butts, crush the stepmom, send the prince to get himself a real job and simply hold the world in the palm of her hand. Way to go, princess!

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