The long forgotten fairy tale parents
We all know at least one fairy tale, Disney spent decades hacking them up into more child friendly versions. Most little girls grew up with catchy theme songs and big eyed little damsels in distress. Not knowing how monumentally messed up those tales really are. Fast forward to adulthood and you realize that the very last person you would ever want to be is one of those girls who have to suffer for years at times, for what? A prince charming? Screw that, if it was me I would rather want to rescue myself, ride off to the nearest bar and celebrate with a cocktail or two.
Once you become a parent, more particularly one to a girl, these tales start to worry you a little bit. What are these stories really teaching my daughter? You start to think, and you realize that you would much rather want her to come up to you saying she wants to be Iron Man instead of Cinderella. A billionaire genius with an awesome suite, or an orphan house slave who is so demented she thinks she can talk to mice? Yeah, Iron Man sounds much more appealing.
So much emphasis is placed on the helpless little girl who needs a handsome, probably vapid, prince to come and rescue her with his mighty sword (okay something just took a turn towards the wrong here). No one really considers the back players. What about the parents? If you think about it you will either think they are truly horrible parents or you can’t help but mourn with them. Now that I’m a parent I look at some of these stories and want to cry.
Before Snow White and Cinderella were born their mothers must have been thrilled. I can just imagine them being over the moon, spending endless nights talking to their little baby bumps telling them how much they love them. When they are born that love increases infinitely. But these parents don’t think of the worst possibilities. They don’t think ‘what if one or both of us die? What will become of our children?’ I’m sure if Cinderella’s or Snow White’s mothers knew that their daughters’ stepmothers would be such sadistic women that they would make some kind of arrangement for there to be another guardian as well. Where are the grandparents to whisk them away when the fathers die? Where are the kind aunts and uncles? I would be devastated if I knew I would die before seeing my daughter grow up, it would be even worse to know that they will be abused to such an extent.
I do feel that if they were still alive they would have showered their daughters with unconditional love and provided them with everything they need to go into the world as strong and capable women. But they have died and now their daughters have the worst possible upbringing, their characters are broken down at every turn, and they need some man to rescue them. That would give chills to every parent.
What if you won’t die, but your child will be stolen from you, like with Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Rumplestiltskin. What torture would it be to know that when your child is just a little, helpless baby, she will be taken away from you? Sleeping Beauty is particularly sick since first you hear your daughter will die when she is only sixteen years old, and then your husband says to keep her safe she needs to go into hiding. So now she is ripped away from you to be cared for by some stranger you hope will love her at least a little like you would. You won’t see her grow up and then you will have to bury her. That would probably drive me insane.
Then there is the chance that you do get to see your child grow up (hopefully) but when she is a young woman she becomes the prisoner of some monster. Just like in Beauty and the Beast. I’m sorry but I don’t think I would willingly sit around and pout, I would do everything within my ability to try and rescue her. This and Rapunzel’s stories are particularly horrible for modern day parents as so many children, young and old, have been abducted. How do you survive life knowing your child is out there, possibly dead? How do you live day to day? The fairy tales don’t mention it but I am sure those parents probably spend every day of their lives looking for their missing children.
I am not saying these parents would win any parenting prizes though. I know there were bad parents then as there are now, I know there have been parents that would sell their babies, and I know there are parents that wouldn’t be bothered to look for a missing child. There are truly horrible parents out there. Rapunzel’s father basically sold his unborn child to a witch for some vegetables (I like to think his wife probably never forgave him for it). In Rumplestiltskin the young girl’s father gambled her life on a lie that she can spin gold from thread. Sleeping Beauty’s father sent her away to live in some wood. Hansel and Gretel’s father abandoned them in the woods. If you look closely enough you could probably see bad parenting in nearly all the fairy tales.
But I would want to commemorate those few who weren’t such crappy parents. I want to commiserate with those parents whose children were taken from them (I like to think forcibly since you could only take my child over my dead body). When I was a girl I wanted to be a fairy princess so badly. Now that I am older I realize those stories truly show a parent’s worst nightmare.