Do you think it is okay for parents to introduce young children to romance at an early age? Focus more on the messages in these stories, and less on the romance.
Take a look at some of the fairy tales out there. Rapunzel getting rescued by the man of her dreams, princes kissing beautiful princesses, princesses kissing frogs that turn into handsome princes, beauties kissing beasts, witches and curses, and spells that can only be broken by a kiss from a true love. Phew! If you think about it, there's far more romance in these fairy tales than there is in a Mills and Boon novel.
Many of us have grown up hearing these stories. But we have also received a healthy doze of Indian mythology, which doesn't subscribe to or looks romance in such detail. Instead, there seems to be a lot of obvious emphasis on values. The Ramayana speaks about the importance of a promise, love between brothers, obedience and respect for parents. It also speaks about the importance of family and love between husband and wife. Similarly, the Mahabharat encompasses The Gita within its pages. The character of Yudhishtir, the most honest and principled of the Pandavas, is often stressed upon. Akbar and Birbal tales are witty and encourage thinking. The Jataka and Panchatantra tales all come with a moral.
We have also come across numerous Arabian Tales, like Sindbad and Alibaba. These are filled with fantasy, magic carpets and clashes between good and evil. They stimulate the imagination.
On the other hand, take a look at the story of Sleeping Beauty. If you analyze it, you will find many messages, but most of us don't lay enough emphasize on these messages. We focus only on the story. An evil queen banishes her stepdaughter, because the daughter is apparently more beautiful than she. Not satisfied with just the exile, the queen then disguises herself and feeds her a tempting poisonous apple, which lulls the beauty into a deep sleep. Many years later, a handsome prince comes across the sleeping beauty, and is captivated. He kisses her. This breaks the spell and the princess wakes up and rides away with her prince, after which they live happily ever after.
There is a message here, encouraging you to resist temptation. After all, if the princess had resisted the temptation of eating the poisonous apple, she would not have fallen victim to the spell. Similarly, the father should have paid more attention to his family and to his daughter, and not just focus on his 'work'. If he knew what his evil wife was up to, perhaps he would have been able to stop her from hatching her scheme. It is only because his daughter was neglected that the queen could take advantage.
Although all of us deeply emphasise the morals of Indian mythology, few of us are even aware of the subtle messages in fairy tales.
You don't need to do a thesis on the stories. Just search for morals and messages and discuss them with your child after reading them a story. Not only will your child enjoy the story more, but she will also emerge a better person, with more on her mind than just kissing!
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