A few weeks ago I read a wonderful post by blissfulblurbs, which asked the question: “Are we brainwashing girls with fairy tales“? Which led me to write this following rant (since this topic has been running around my head for a number of years) and to start by answering the question with a resounding “YES”.
Based on my knowledge of psychology and memories of my preschool years, I’ve realized that we make some of our most important decisions about what we believe about life and how it works and how we should be, before we even enter first grade; all future decisions are only refinements. We make it based on what surrounds us and if we’re surrounded by information that has little or nothing to do with real life, can we make decisions that will serve us well?
For example, in the world of fairy tales, my favourites were The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. In the first story, the girl kills herself rather than see her prince suffer; in the second, the girl keeps loving the beast until he turns into a beautiful prince. You can imagine what my love life (and how I relate to people in general) looks like today. I’m not kidding. And I realized that there is a fairy tale connection only when I was well, well into my adulthood.
I knew, as a child, that these stories were make-believe, but the imprint had been made regardless.
I’m not saying that it’s all the fault of the fairy tales that I enjoyed as a child, but the pattern is clearly there.
Would we not do better if gave our children a more realistic perspective on life (maybe letting them learn about nature, animals, other cultures) instead of exposing them to illusions in a misguided effort to preserve their “child-like innocence”?