Harsh words for children

There are many harsh words for children: rebukes, judgments, condemnations, mean whispers, and raw shouts. Then there are life lessons to learn, too. Today’s post links to a post that talks about some of the harsher elements in classic fairytales: harsh words with children as a direct, intentional audience. 


I’ll link to the article below, but first consider this excerpt:

Considering the fact that children were the primary intended audience for these stories, it’s all the more horrific to find so many kings who send their children into the forest to be murdered by reluctant huntsmen simply because the children pose a threat to the kings’ power. Parents are willing to abandon their children when food runs short. Others cave to pressures from hungry giants and chop fingers from their children’s hands so they can bake them in pies. Many parents pit their children against one another and promise terrible punishments to those who fail to complete herculean tasks. Still more will gladly trade beloved, longed-for offspring for such fleeting pleasures as a salad of rapunzel greens.

I wonder if modern writers are so used to sugar coating, simplifying, and waxing whimsical for children whether we’ve missed something important. Fairy tales work, and children often love them! Yet harsh words can be so stigmatized that I wonder whether real subject matter is really what is condemned in a background of application and absolutes.

I want real things for my children. Oddly many people don’t or have themselves forgotten what is true for what is a newly written folk tale.

And, I want to recognize the wealth of children, my own and others’!

The Wealth of Children


Filed under Audiences

4 Responses to Harsh words for children

  1. Children know instinctively what adults try and convince themselves isn’t true. Evil is real. There could be something in the dark, under the bed, in the dark closet, down the long dark hall. They know the people who should take care of them sometimes won’t. That’s why fairy tales are important. They remind us that evil can lose. That in fact, evil has already lost. Little children can burn up the witch, or melt her. And that thing in the dark, it’s scared of the light. Especially the light from a cross

  2. Kelly Smith

    To quote a movie,

    Don’t look for a happy ending. It’s not an American story. It’s an Irish one.
    -The Devil’s Own (1997)

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