Intentional parenting: The stories we won’t be telling our girls.

Our toddler has been really interested in “stories” lately. She has always loved books, but lately she wants us to tell her stories instead of reading them from a book.

Tonight Clara asked me to tell her the story of Cinderella, which I’d read to her a few times before. Well, let me tell you, my version was a bit different than the original.

Why we won't be reading Disney princess stories to our young girls

Why we aren't telling our girls the stories of Disney princesses

I completely took out the parts about her dead father, evil stepmother, ugly stepsisters, her working as an indentured servant to her family, the prince marrying her…

Basically, my story was very short and it involved a girl wanting to go to a party and her mom saying she couldn’t until she finished her chores. Then she finished her chores and her mom let her go but she wasn’t old enough to drive so her fairy godmother created a coach out of a pumpkin! (Yay! Magic!) Then she went to the party and met the prince and they had so much fun talking together. Except he forgot her name. And then Cinderella was late for her curfew and left before he could ask her what her name was, again. Well, she ran so fast to get home on time that she lost her shoe! So, the next day the prince asked his friends to search all over town to find his friend to return her shoe. And they found Cinderella and she tried the shoe on and it fit, so they gave it back to her. And then they drove her to the prince’s house so they could be friends and get to know each other better. The end.

Being intentional about the stories we tell our children

Our book of choice. Much better than Cinderella.

I couldn’t believe the amount of things I had to change in this story to make it even semi-appropriate! I must admit, when I read the girls stories from books my brain goes on auto-pilot and I barely pay attention to what I’m saying. But when I tried telling this story from memory it made me realize that I actually don’t like the ‘real’ story of Cinderella at all, nor do I like the other Disney princess stories. Right then I decided that our family probably won’t be reading nor watching these types of fairy tales anytime soon.

I know, I know, they’re the stories I grew up with – but that doesn’t make them good. I know that other little girls love Disney princesses, but my daughters will read other books instead. There are no shortage of books in the world, and I simply don’t think Disney has come out with the best stories for children, especially young children. For this reason, we’ll avoid reading Disney princess stories to our daughters, for now.

being intentional about the stories we tell our children

Will this be a permanent thing? I’m sure it won’t be. Right now my oldest daughter is only 2.5 years old so maybe when she’s 5 or 6 I’ll reconsider what she can handle and understand and maybe I’ll introduce some of these Disney stories at that time. But do I ever really want to tell her a story about such an awful step-family situation? No. And don’t get me started on the whole idea of a prince saving her… bleh.

I won’t be able to filter what she hears/reads/sees forever, but in these early years I can and I will, and it starts with avoding Cinderella.

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15 Responses to Intentional parenting: The stories we won’t be telling our girls.

  1. Hmm. This is interesting, Lisa.
    I personally love the classic Disney princesses and stories, but I think that the last 8 years have been transformative for the company. Movies like Brave and Frozen are wonderful stories of girls saving themselves from danger or loving other women (vs. competing with them). So I see a shift happening, and I totally get you wanting to avoid the damsel in distress/poor family situations from a toddler!
    My husband’s grandma used to change the end of story books so they all ended happily. There are kids books in her house with the words scratched out (like the naughty rabbit being eaten or whatever) and replaced with her handwriting penning a happy ending. Lol!

    • Lisa says:

      I must admit that I haven’t seen most of the new Disney shows, and have only seen Frozen once! There is definitely a shift happening and I’m a big fan of it! I love his grandma’s idea for changing books – so funny!

  2. I’d never thought of that before, but I kind of like your version of the story. Every Disney story is about children rebelling against their parents basically, right?! And then they live happily ever after…..

    • Lisa says:

      I don’t even care about kids rebelling against their parents, I’m more concerned at the amount of death and awful step-parents and marrying someone who doesn’t even know your name… it’s all bad!

  3. Amanda says:

    I definitely think at 2.5 there are probably things she won’t be able to process or handle as well as if she were a few years older. I mean look at The Little Mermaid. That sea creature is terrifying and I’m 30 years old!

    • Lisa says:

      Ursula is really intense! Haha! I’m sure we’ll revisit some of these stories when she’s old enough to watch the movies and understand what is going on without being too scared!

  4. Heather H says:

    This is a really interesting perspective! We haven’t watched too many Disney movies (or read many books) with our girls yet (aged 5 and almost 3)…but they do really love Frozen, and I have to admit that I enjoy a lot of that movie too compared to other Disney movies. Cinderella in particular has never been a favourite of mine, and this post really articulated a lot of what doesn’t sit well with me. The whole prince saving me/happily ever after is part of it, but same with that horrible family situation!

    • Lisa says:

      I’ve only seen Frozen once, but I was a huge fan! They have some really clever humor in there and it’s obviously a much more female-friendly princess story!

  5. Though I liked Disney as a child I share your perspective when it comes to child rearing. I think Disney sends a lot of negative messages to little girls about emphasizing beauty over brains and looking for love to give your life meaning (and not much else). I think it’s good to talk about these topics and to let your views evolve as your kids grow up and can understand more.

    • Lisa says:

      I totally grew up on Disney but am still wondering what all of our parents were thinking! Those stories are INTENSE and I don’t see a lot of value in them!

  6. I love this, Lisa! I agree – I don’t think that Disney makes the best stories. I especially don’t like the idea of telling little girls that women are princesses to be saved by men. Although the disney versions are still more appropriate than the original Hans Christian Andersen / Grimm versions … those are true nightmares
    I like that book that you and Tim are reading Clara!

    • Lisa says:

      Ohmygoodness the Grimm versions are THE WORST. Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk… the stories are all sorts of bad. I really need to research what the purpose of these stories was originally.

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  9. Steph Gregerson says:

    I’m so excited to check this book out! I was a Disney fan growing up and will always be, but I love the idea of some badass stories. Thanks for sharing!

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