Professor Richard Dawkins has faced backlash after implying that fairy tales may be harmful to children. They teach children about fantasy worlds and include the supernatural, which are not realistic for today’s world. He even goes as far to say that raising children to be religious could be child abuse.
His argument is that children should be raised with a sense of skepticism, and be taught about the scientific world. His remarks about religion were aimed to those who tell their children they will roast in Hell for not being polite or for swearing, and other such behavior. However, many parents have criticized him for his remarks.
There is nothing wrong with reading fairy tales, as long as parents make it clear that they are just stories. Children have grown up with these fantasy worlds, and know that they are never going to happen in real life. Princes will not turn into frogs, and princesses are not damsels in distress that need saving every time something happens.
The stories were written at a time when women did not have such equal rights as they do today, though. That is a fact that many people forget, as many women do now complain about the view of women in stories such as Snow White and Cinderella. However, the stories are advancing. Disney’s Frozen has been one of the first to show that the love of a sister (and of family) is more powerful than the love of a prince.
So, is Dawkins right that fairy tales are harmful to children? If they were really that harmful then every adult today would believe in the stories. They would be stuck in that childhood fantasy that a Fairy Godmother will make everything perfect to get to a ball, and only those who are of good heart will get the man. That is not the way the world works, and adults understand that. They are fantasy worlds for children to grow up hearing, and really teach more about morals than anything else.
Children learn that courage and determination can lead to success, and working together as a team will save lives. Fairy tales teach children that they should be kind to one another, even if it does not lead to getting their own way all the time. How is something like that damaging to harmful to them?
The original tales from the Grimm brothers did not all have happy endings, and they were extremely dark and scary for some. The main fantasy worlds developed from Disney, which took the stories and created something for family audiences.
The stories actually help develop a sense of creativity. They teach children that anything is possible in the world of fantasy, and stretches the imagination. That helps when it comes to the workplace, because it encourages people to think outside the box and use their creativity to their advantage.
There is a difference between allowing children to read the stories, and encouraging them to believe that everything written in them is true. There is nothing wrong with allowing them to believe in the fantasy worlds when they are younger, as long as they understand the different between fantasy and reality as they get older. Teaching them about science is worthwhile, but can be done alongside reading the tales as bed time stories. There is nothing harmful about fairy tales, despite Dawkins’ implications.
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham