08 February 2011

Negatives don't add up to a positive.

I received a very interesting comment on my Of Princesses and Frogs post, which I would like to reply to.  An anonymous commentor (who I hope wasn't my brother, since I always lose arguments with him, even when I'm right) stated:
If you consider yourself "a woman of strength, honor, resourcefulness, and intelligence, who respects herself, and these qualities, enough to hold out for those things in a life-partner" (which I am sure that you are!),then I believe that you learned to think for yourself and were not unduly swayed by the Disney movies YOU loved as a child. What makes you think that you will not bring up a daughter who can also think for herself? A person who can think critically and clearly can be "exposed" to all sorts of "influences" without harm to their true selves. In fact, it can be like dating, the real lessons learned are what you really DON'T want in a life-partner, so you can move on to the real thing.
There are a few problems that I see with this point of view, and to facilitate discussion, I decided to address them in a new post:

First of all, yes, I did learn to think for myself...after a lot of trial and error, involving decisions that I deeply regret, based on a romanticized view of life that was certainly not hindered by the Disney movies I watched while growing up.

I would prefer my daughter to learn positive lessons (i.e. "This is what is good, noble, true...") rather than negative ones (i.e. "Here is an example you should NOT follow.)

And while it is true that "A person who can think critically and clearly can be 'exposed' to all sorts of 'influences' without harm to their true selves.", I don't think that a four-year-old is really capable of that kind of critical thought. I'm certain that, when my daughter is older, we will be able to enjoy the fun aspects of these movies together, and also some good conversations about the less positive things they contain. But I will be waiting for that until AFTER she has developed the ability to look at them critically, rather than letting her see them now, when she will fall in love with the swooshy clothes and assimilate the ideas without first thinking them through.

I will add: If you're learning what you DON'T want by dating, that's a whole lot of negative experiences to carry with you through life. Again, I'd rather my children not learn their lessons by experiencing everything now that they shouldn't want for the future.

Further thoughts and disagreements welcome, as long as they're worded as politely as this one was!


  1. While a four year is not usually capable of the critical thinking skills of an adult, certainly movies, books and other media are great openings to start teaching those skills through discussion. The movie does not need to exist in a vaccuum, without criticism. Most children I have known are pretty capable of distinguishing "pretend" from reality, (a lot of times more capable than some adults!) Also, to clarify, I am not a big fan of Disney's versions of fairy tales, or other tales. I still vividly remember the trauma I experienced as a small child over the hunting scene in "Bambi". Disney paints with a broad brush, (and usually sanitizes the original story a great deal). I just think that by forbidding, we give the movie/book/words, etc. GREATER power over us. I think the 'boy coming of age' movies are just as bad, "Old Yeller", "The Yearling"(not Disney, I believe, but might as well be). A boy isn't a "man" until he shoots his beloved pet??? (simplistic view, yes, but again, traumatized as a young child, never really got over it, can't watch any of these movies since.) And actually the most I remember about any of the princess movies was being afraid of the witch/dragon in "Sleeping Beauty". With regards to dating, I don't consider the experiences negative, just a learning experience, like trying new foods. Yes I like that,or no, I don't need to have that again. Just helps you narrow down the characteristics that really matter to you.

  2. Ran out of space, but wanted to add nope, not your brother!


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