In recent years, I’ve noticed people no longer encourage little children to read, or read to them, the classic fairy tales we olders grew up on. They object to these tales because of the treatment of kids —  how Cinderella was treated by her stepsisters, the cruelty of sending Hansel and Gretel into the woods, to say nothing of Little Red Riding Hood, who’s nearly eaten by a wolf disguised as a sick grandma.

I recently came across an old volume of Grimm’s fairy tales still in my bookcase. A few hundred years have passed since the Grimm brothers wrote their famous fairy tales that taught life lessons to children, but nothing much has changed in real family life.

Recently young mothers talked to me, heartbroken over the daily news of serious child abuse: a 5-year-old is tied to a bed all day, a father killed his own children just to make a point, an 11-year-old kept captive and raped. The young mothers ask, “How could this happen?”

I can’t answer their question; I’ve never been a parent. But I’ve been an involved godmother for three with a deep love of little ones — so I raise these thoughts on fairy tales.

In recent years, I’ve noticed people no longer encourage little children to read, or read to them, the classic fairy tales we olders grew up on. They object to these tales because of the treatment of kids —  how Cinderella was treated by her stepsisters, the cruelty of sending Hansel and Gretel into the woods, to say nothing of Little Red Riding Hood, who’s nearly eaten by a wolf disguised as a sick grandma.

Violence here? Yup. Horror? Sure. Yet each of those classic tales teaches the child who hears them a moral, gives them hope for a better day (that prince who saw Cinderella’s real beauty amidst the ashes where she lived).

Those stories teach that abuse to children is the meanest of evils. So why stop using these books and tales? Is child abuse any different now than 200 years ago? And, if not, why not? With a million new laws to protect children, and a hundred agencies to guard children, why is child abuse still growing in intensity and numbers?

I’m not a family counselor, but I suspect we forgot to teach those adults the horrors of child abuse while they were still kids — as was done for us when a loving adult read those fairy tales to us.

Anger management? Gimme a break. I’ve watched parents allow little ones to vent their anger with no-holds-barred tantrums in a grocery store, and they excuse it - with no consequences - as “growing up.” We allow foul language to go unpunished among the young. We make a hero of radical violence on TV without shutting down the show. We resent the time and effort it takes to handle the hard part of parenting — one day that kid grows up to slam or kill a baby.

Solutions?

Laws haven’t done it - they only come along to punish after the deed is done and the baby buried. It begins and ends those first years. Why not read to tiny tots those classic fairy tales that fascinate their attention while teaching the horrific results of violence? Then, those fairy tale lessons come alive in daily life with real discipline for bad behavior.

Soon those tots become adults who remember those fairy tales with special affection, who treasure the caring discipline and now can handle their own frustrations without beating or killing the baby. That’s the real treasure the Grimms left us in their tales.

Why not use them?

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