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Cinderella’s Mean Step-Sisters and Snow White’s Wicked Witches

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

Question: I have a grandson who will be 5 next month. He likes the story of Cinderella and also Sleeping Beauty. I asked him why he liked these stories and he said that he likes the naughty step sisters in Cinderella and the wicked witch in Snow White.

This is a child raised in a conservative christian home where they don’t even have a TV and he does not play video games. Should I be concerned about his fixation on the meanness and not the good?

He goes to church/Awana regularly and knows all his verses so he is aware – I think – of good and bad. Are there any good storybooks to read to him that address this kind of subject?

I am a little concerned and wonder if you could give me your opinion? Your opinion would be appreciated, and thank you in advance for any helpful tools.

I must add, I live in WA. state and my daughter and her family live in CO. So, I only get to see him every few months.

Angela

Dear Angela-

Most fairy tales for children involve battles between good and evil and they were written this way for a reason. Children use fantasy as a way of reconciling many inner conflicts and this a good thing. When children hear stories, they learn to understand moral conflict and use their imagination to process some very important issues. Reading fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel can be very frightening for children and this isn’t all bad. In fact, using written stories where the good guy wins helps children recruit their imaginations to solve problems. Watching good people battle bad people in movies or on television is not as helpful because children don’t use their imaginations; rather, they are fed information and often the visual elements are far too violent and inappropriate for their developmental levels.

Think about David and Goliath. In fact, most boys want to hear all about Goliath, not David. Goliath is the intriguing, scary giant who is far more interesting than David.  It is entirely normal for boys to be more interested with the “bad” guys than the nice ones because the kids are struggling with how to reconcile evil. I remember teaching Sunday School years ago and whenever I told the class about David and Goliath, none wanted to know about small David- they wanted to know how big Goliath was and how long it took David to lop off his head!

Your grandson is normal. He is learning to understand the tension between good and evil and he will work it out in time. How wonderful that he has parents who don’t let him watch televisions! Kudos to them.

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