Are Fairy Tales Too Scary, Or Are Parents Too Protective?

The Daily Mail has recently conducted a survey regarding fairy tales and their reception among today’s parents. What’s interesting is that this made their top news. The article included the perception that various stories are seen to have in the mind’s of the parent.

Entitled “Are Fairy Tales too Scary for Today’s Children? Parents Admit They Refuse to Read Classics to Youngsters,” the article goes on to mention the fairy tales that are now deemed frightening, uncomfortable, or even “unrealistic.”

In the survey, conducted on 2,000 parents, they discovered that 1 in 5 favors more modern stories for their children, and that almost half of parents do not read Rumpelstiltskin or Rapunzel because of their focus on kidnapping. They viewed Goldilocks and the Three Bears as condoning stealing, and Little Red Riding Hood as too upsetting. But I have to ask, if children do not learn these lessons or hear of these occurrences, how are they to grow and accept the many disappointments and realities of life?

The survey mentions that modern tales parents read to children include The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Gruffalo. But what lesson does a child learn from the Caterpillar tale? And how is The Gruffalo any less scary than the classic tales that involve outwitting a predator?

The sidebar on the article is probably the best material, showing the Top Ten fairy tales no longer read to children. Here’s a glimpse:

1. Hansel and Gretel – Storyline about two abandoned kids is thought likely to scare children
2. Jack and the Beanstalk – Deemed too ‘unrealistic’
3. Gingerbread Man – Parents uncomfortable explaining gingerbread man gets eaten by fox
4. Little Red Riding Hood – Deemed unsuitable by parents who must explain a girl’s grandmother has been eaten by a wolf
5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – The term ‘dwarves’ was found to be inappropriate
6. Cinderella – Story about a young girl doing all the housework was considered outdated
7. Rapunzel – Parents were worried about the focus on a young girl being kidnapped
8. Rumpelstiltskin – Parents unhappy reading about executions and kidnapping
9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears – Parents say it sends the wrong messages about stealing
10. Queen Bee – Deemed inappropriate as the story has a character called Simpleton

This seems a bit extreme in most cases, and downright ridiculous in others. If parents are constantly bandaging wounds before there’s a scratch, and putting on safety helmets in order to prevent the world from entering children’s minds, how will kids ever learn important lessons or conquer fears?

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