Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Princess? Or, What My Child (and I) Are Reading.



After watching Disney's Tangled, which released to DVD on Tuesday, we read the old Brothers Grimm version of Rapunzel, out of our Worldbook Childcraft set. You can read it online in several places, including here, at GrimmStories.com, if you can't quite remember how the old story compares to the Disney remake (while you're there, you might want to click H.C. Andersen link, and read a few of his stories too - it's his birthday, today, you know).

Then, I read Peggy Orenstien's Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, after hearing a blurb for the book on NPR, also that morning.


Orenstien is about nine years older than I am (meaning she missed out on the whole transformation of Prince Charming into the rowdy, skirting the law, yet adorable Han Solo/Starbuck/Remington Steele type hero we find being somewhat spoofed in Tangled), a feminist, and mother to one daughter (as opposed to my four), and she is not a Christian, so her viewpoint is quite different than my own, and it is the type of analytical, socio-psychology, that I don't usually read.

Even so, her short tome of motherly worry was interesting, and mostly entertaining. It would make good fodder for a book club discussion. Basically, it's a book of warning about the dangers of socialization, and as a mother of homeschoolers - that really, really made me laugh.

Beyond that, we read a whole plethora of picture books about birds, and their nests, but I'm hoping to save those to go along with tomorrow's post.

As usual though, you can find more book reviews and recommendation for children (and sometimes for their mothers, too) over at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns' What My Child Is Reading link-up.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

19 comments:

learning ALL the time!!/Susan said...

We still haven't watched "Tangled", but we plan to.
I have also heard about the Peggy Orenstein book in many places...I wasn't sure if I'd like it or not, so haven't decided to commit any time to it yet...my to-read list is so long as it is! ;)

Wonder Mom said...

Oh, the "dangers of socialization"...

Really, I think we all NEED socialization, but it just needs to be a more "gradual" process than our society seems to promote it. That's why, as a homeschooling mama, I am SO THANKFUL for the friends my kiddos have "happened" upon at our church, neighborhood, and homeschooling group!

Raising a Happy Child said...

I heard about the book and read an interesting discussion on the same topic in Redbook, I think. I am not a big fan of anything Princess, since I don't quite agree with "damsel in distress" story lines. I personally think that a lot of "bad influence" comes from indiscriminate TV watching (think Hannah Montana), so even homeschoolers are not immune to early sexualization.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Natalie - Oh yes, I agree, though I don't have any problem with Hannah Montana as a show (I wouldn't want my children emulating the life of any person in show biz, outside of their ficitonal characters). What I thought was funny, was the fact, that after all the poundings I've taken as a homeschool mom for supposedly isolating my children (which isn't really true), and not letting them be "socialized" - here is a non-homeschooling mother writing with a fair amount of hopelessness about the dangers of socialization. I don't think isolation is the answer - but throwing your hands up, and saying well I don't like it, but what can I do - is sort of silly, too. If we don't like what the culture has to offer our children, we should offer them something better - and I'm sure you know me well enough to know I'm pointing straight back to the Bible on this one :)

Raising a Happy Child said...

As a parent for an only daughter raising her in the culture that is "non-native" to me I am thinking a lot about cultural impact and how to counteract the worst of it. As you know, we are not religious, but I think there are many examples of amazing women in history who achieved so much without relying on their beauty. I do believe a lot comes from mothers as role models. If a mother is very body-obsessed, if a mother gets satisfaction from shopping sprees and takes her preschool daughter to beauty salons for "bonding experiences" - what is the girl supposed to think about her personal worth as a human being and about ways to make herself happy? Is she going to curl in a chair with a good book or go for a run when she is sad later in life? I don't think so!

Debbie said...

One just has to love how we homeschoolers isolate our children, and do not promote socialization, yet on the other hand it seems like many of those who criticize us are pulling their hair out over too much socialization. I totally agree with your comment to Natalie. Also yes, Natalie makes a good point too about what we teach our children concerning self image.

Brimful Curiosities said...

Very interesting dialog so far. In my mind, balance and background are key. I try to expose both my children (not only my daughter) to other princesses besides the Disney/frou-frou princess version and make sure they understand that the stories presented in the Disney movies are based on classic fairy tales. Fairy tales are fantasy, not reality.

It's nearly impossible to avoid the commercialization. I think Natalie makes a very strong point. Parents serve as main role models for their children. You can't completely isolate your child from the world but you can instill non-material values. That's a parent's responsibility, don't blame mainstream culture.

Joyful Learner said...

I know I'm not up to speed about the many threads here but I just want to add that balance is key. No use judging moms who take their girls out to the salon just as much as moms who don't. I think our culture focuses too much on outer beauty but beauty itself isn't bad. It's just the lack of perspective that's hurtful.

Leah - Are you refering to the Proverbs woman? It was unclear.

Been thinking a LOT about socialization lately....not thrilled about the kind of socialization in schools but can't say that socializing with all the various cliques in homeschooling has been easy.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Joyful Learner - I was thinking of all the great, strong women in the Bible - Miriam, Rahab, Esther (who was very beautiful, and did marry the King - perhaps not by choice - but found even as an "object" she had a purpose, that had more to do with her faith, than her beauty), Ruth, all the Marys, Martha, Deborah, Elizabeth...and then verses like Proverbs 31:30, 1 Peter 3:3-4, Galations 3:28, and so on. In the Biblical view we're all God's workmanship created for good works in Christ (Eph 2:10).

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Oh, forgot a key one - Romans 12:2 (New Living Translation) - Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect

Joyful Learner said...

Thanks for all the verses and reminding me about the women in the Bible! I agree they play a very strong role, each in their own way. It seemed like they were all beautiful as their inner strength shined through!

I just read the reviews of the book and I have to say I could identify with the author to some degree. Having a daughter made me realize all the more about how important it is to feed girls with positive messages. Regardless of my own feminist beliefs, what I have observed K react to most is the ethnic identities of the main characters in Disney films. She believes having blond or red hair (think Ariel) is more beautiful and therefore which she was beautiful by having different hair color. While, we discuss what beauty is and how we are all beautiful, she is adamant on what she sees in the movies. Needless to say, we limit them now and watch more shows like Peep, Chirp and Quack which she loves.

This is a great discussion by the way!

As for socialization, I would love to read more on this! Not just either/or but what our purpose of socialization is.

Ticia said...

Oooohhhhh, this has been fun to read, from the post to the discussion. Glad I didn't get a chance to do so earlier.

I've always thought that book was a little overboard on her theories. Much like everyone else said it's all a matter of balance and perspective. If I let my daughter (or sons) just live 24-7 on anything that wouldn't be healthy for them. But, a little bit of the different things isn't all bad.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Ticia - Whenever I start over analyzing things, the Man of the House gives me one of those annoying "stupid man" grins, and says, "You think too much." He's usually right - sometimes you just have to live :)

learning ALL the time!!/Susan said...

I have been following this discussion through email...such a great discussion!
I have to say, I completely agree with Natalie's points in her second comment about the examples of amazing women in history who didn't rely on beauty, and about the importance of mothers as role models.
I'm also not a fan of many of the models presented on TV/movies, and try to balance the Disney princess type of portrayals with other examples, and our own values.
I am continually thankful that our daughters are no longer in public school! The atmosphere I've witnessed in our public school is so hard to combat.

Christy said...

I love the post and all of the comments so far. So very interesting. I have always thought that all things in moderation is the way to live life. R loves girly things, princesses, dance, fashion, etc., but she also loves to play soccer, softball, and dig in the dirt. I don't want her to think that some things are for girls and other things aren't. I want her to learn about strong women and grow up thinking of herself in that way, but we enjoy fairy tales and princesses for what they are too! I am certainly not a person who is obsessed with body image - we try to teach our children to be healthy - we eat healthy, exercise regularly (often as a family) and enjoy sweets in moderation. I don't wear much makeup and I prefer my nails to look natural and I can't stand heels, but I do look forward to a day when my daughter and I can enjoy a spa day together!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That being said, I visit the spa about three times a year. I love it.
I don't let R watch Hannah Montana, but I don't have a problem with the show. I just don't think it is appropriate for my five year old. I think it is better for older children. So, she has never seen the show, but she often talks about Hannah MOntana - can't be avoided, a lot of her friends watch the show. Her friends also have pierced ears, but that is something we will not allow until she is a teenager. I think it's all about parental choices and being a strong influence in your child's life. I know my children will have outside influences, but I try to be the strongest. I'm rambling now. I don't even remember if any of this is relevant.

learning ALL the time!!/Susan said...

Christy, I completely agree with so much of what you said.
We do love our princesses and fairies here, too!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

My husband, and two oldest got home from a youth retreat last night. The Man of the House was regailing me with tales of the hardships of driving a van full of teenage boys for 600 miles. Apparently, while being very nice boys, they were very much teenagers :) T had aparently found the whole thing very funny. G announced, very primly, "I was polite. I rode in the Princess Van - it was all girls." To which T added, "Well, I was in the Man Van - which was AWESOME!" I admit I laughed. What would Peggy Orenstien think!?!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Hmmm...she'd probably think I can't spell...the Man of the House was regaling me with stories.

Christy said...

I love the retreat story!