Once Upon A Time

Yesterday I read of parents banning some of the ‘fairy tales’ that I was brought up on… Hansel and Gretel’s abandoned children, abducted by a bloodthirsty, cannibalistic witch… Red Riding Hood’s wolf that eats grandmothers… violent and distressing images!

There are issues of body image with Cinderella and her ugly sisters… sizeism with Snow White’s seven dwarves. Gender stereotypes abound with beautiful, helpless princesses rescued by handsome brave princes.

I was brought up with nursery rhymes about mice with their tails cut off, live blackbirds baked in a pie… and the blatant racism of Noddy’s best friend ‘Golly’….

…At church I heard about people drowning as a loving God saves Noah and an animal-filled boat, Samson tying foxes together by their tails and setting fire to them, David killing Goliath then chopping his head off…

Now… at Christmas… listening to The Pogues ‘Fairytale of New York’ about the stormy affair of an alcoholic man with his heroin-addicted girlfriend… telling of an unexpected teenage pregnancy and a king that murders children.

As we tell stories how do we decide which we should keep from our children or avoid ourselves? Here are my 6 ‘C’s for starters:

Complexity – Life isn’t straightforward. There aren’t always easy answers to difficult questions. Bad people do incomprehensibly bad things. Bad things happen to good people… Life’s a confusing mixture.

Comprehension – I distinguish between fact, fiction, fable and fantasy… I understand authorship, purpose for writing, what’s acceptable at different times, in different cultures.

Critical thinking – I ask difficult questions, rethinking my answers about truth and value, helpful and harmful, acceptable and unacceptable.

Construction –I constantly seek to build and develop myself and others. In particular I develop imaginations…

Conscience – I continue develop my moral compass, distinguishing between good and bad, right and wrong, understanding my prejudice, greed, selfishness, weaknesses…

Compassion – Stories don’t always end with ‘they all lived happily ever after’. However the guiding principle is always love… the aim that I become more understanding, caring, empathetic…

2 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time

  1. I think most children can distinguish between fact and fiction, it is extreme to ban fairy tales.


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