Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Disney Princesses' Moms

Sometimes it's easy to think that what children read doesn't matter, as long as they read. After all, as long as the book doesn't have bad words, sex, or violence, and doesn't blatantly encourage kids to make bad decisions, it's just children's lit, right?

Susan Wise Bauer put up an interesting re-post from Publisher's Weekly that raises questions about the premise of a lot of children's literature.

It's called "The Ol' Dead Dad Syndrome."

The author, Leila Sales, writes, "Dead parents are so much a part of middle-grade and teen fiction at this point, it’s not even the “in” thing. It’s not “au courant” or “en vogue.” It’s just an accepted fact: kids in books are parentless."

Sometimes blood-and-guts isn't the only kind of violence in books. There is violence in ideas as well.

If every book your child reads shows a child struggling through life without parental support, what messages is your child learning? ...I can't count on adults. ...They're going to let me down. ...They can't be trusted. ...They won't be there for me. ...It's all up to me.

That idea does violence to the relationships it's our task to cultivate. It does violence to the role of loving parent that we're struggling to learn and live out. It gives a poor model of what strong mothers and fathers can look like. And it's an idea that doesn't just exist in children's literature. Parents receive that message too.

...If you got a bad education, it's too late to change it. ...You can't be trusted. ...You couldn't possibly be wise enough to teach your children. ...You're completely on your own.

Corinthians 3:5 says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” He has left the Spirit to equip us. He trusts us to raise godly children. He provided the church to nurture us, so we have resources when we are tired and confused or in trouble.

If we want our children to know they are not alone, we need to remind each other of the same thing.

The death of a parent is always a traumatic event, and one that has inspired a lot of great writers to grapple with the meaning of death, grief, and life. But as Ms. Sales concludes, "When authors omit parents for the sake of convenience, I take issue—as an editor, and as a reader. Because a convenient story is not the same as a good story."

That's why it's so important to learn how to read on the level of ideas: trying, testing, and approving all things in the light of Truth.

1 comment:

Knocker Boys said...

Very encouraging post. Thank you.