Parenting: Disney-Style

For those of you who grew up in a Christian household, you’ll probably have the right context for understanding when I say that I was brought up “strictly.”  For everyone else, a little more interpretation might be in order.  Imagine, if you will, that the far right of the spectrum would be something called “strict fundamental.”  This would include a no dancing, no card playing, secular movies or music are highly questionable, no fantasy/role-playing/magic-related kind of stuff.  If you put some good Southern-style family card playing back in and add in a shake of “dancing is okay, but nobody around here actually does it,” then you’d have my growing up years, with a dose of “only child” sprinkled liberally throughout.

Much to the chagrin of  my upbringing, I turned out quite a bit more middle-to-left leaning than expected.  This has become increasingly apparent as I have begun the important, imperfect process of steering my own children.  And nothing demonstrates this more clearly to me so far as the introduction of Disney movies and storybooks to my preschooler.  In many cases, these have been my first real exposure to some of these classics, too, so I’ve been fascinated by the opportunities for lessons in critical thinking and examination of moral issues.  I thought you might enjoy a walk through some of these with us.  Here goes:

Aladdin
My daughter is entranced with Jasmine.  I’m loving the fact that the main characters we’re supposed to root for see nothing wrong with stealing or with lying to get themselves out of trouble.  Jasmine freely puts a romantic notion of love above obedience to the law.  She complains that she is being forced to get married when in fact she has had the freedom so far to turn down every prince in the land.  And when it comes right down to it, only truly considers Aladdin a potential mate after he becomes a prince.  On the other hand, Aladdin is supposed to be street smart but doesn’t recognize it when Jafar is clearly using him to get the lamp.  Of course, on the positive side, the story does reflect a healthy sense of not trying to be who you aren’t and having courage in the face of danger.

Sleeping Beauty
This one just fascinates me as a parent.  First off, why didn’t someone just tell Aurora that about the curse?  Practically speaking, wouldn’t this have been the best possible way to protect her from accidental spindle-touching?  Second, I suspect the good fairies of having their own agenda in this whole affair.  They devise a plot to hide Aurora, which takes her away from her parents and is completely unnecessary until she actually turns 16.  They bring her back, when she’s 16, the most dangerous time to reveal her.  And of course, their plan was entirely ineffective since Aurora ended up in the deep sleep anyway.  As the parent in this situation, this just seems like coerced kidnapping.  They stole Aurora’s entire childhood with her parents from the family.  Speaking of ineffective, Maleficent obviously could be defeated, so why didn’t they just take care of business while Aurora was under 16?

They should teach a psychology class on this stuff.  It’s just fascinating.

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