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Is anyone else disturbed by this? - Page 2

post #21 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post
Keep in mind that most of these stories are written for children older than yours and mine I think that the idea that books and movies can be for very young children is very, very new. When we were kids, there were no movies or TV for babies or toddlers... even Sesame Street was for 4-6 year olds. Alas, there is money (a lot of money... about $2 billion dollars a year) to be made in the under-3 market, and the people who design these shows obviously see no need to reinvent the wheel when coming up with storylines for their shows and movies.

But, at the same time, I don't think that it's entirely developmentally inappropriate. Toddlers and preschoolers enjoy being very independent, and they're so egocentric that they can take or leave parents at any particular moment. Many popular preschool characters have no parental presence, and it still works as a device to have the child figure out problems on his/her own. Others have a strong parental presence, but the device still involves other characters to guide the protagonist. I'm thinking of Sid the Science Kid, which is one of the very few kids shows that I like. He has a very strong family support system that reinforces the daily lessons, but the bulk of his learning still occurs when he ventures outside the home to discover things with his peers. I think that definitely appeals to preschoolers, who are very curious about the world outside their homes and who are just starting to be developmentally ready to form peer relationships.

The "age compression" issue, where young kids are now being exposed to things that were intended for much older kids, is something to keep in mind when watching movies and shows that weren't made in the past 5 years or so with the under 3 market in mind. Most Disney movies, most children's movies, most children's TV shows that were created before the 0-3 market became the largest media growth industry, are NOT designed for kids younger than school age or so. Whether it's appropriate for your child is definitely up to the individual child: some 3 year olds might be perfectly okay with Bambi, others might be scarred for life, and I have a feeling that most wouldn't have the faintest idea what was going on. I don't think that mine would! Bambi is kind of an extreme situation (imo... I, personally, am in the scarred-for-life camp. I've never seen it all the way through! And I didn't see it for the first time until I was someplace in elementary school and we had a VHS player), but the same is true of similar movies and media.
ITA!! this makes so much sense. my dd is in the inbetween camp, sometimes she acts scarred for life or very dramatic about "scary" scenes. and other times she could care less. we tend to stick to shows that were originally books and pretty preschool/family friendly.
post #22 of 88
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post
I'm thinking of Sid the Science Kid, which is one of the very few kids shows that I like. He has a very strong family support system that reinforces the daily lessons, but the bulk of his learning still occurs when he ventures outside the home to discover things with his peers. I think that definitely appeals to preschoolers, who are very curious about the world outside their homes and who are just starting to be developmentally ready to form peer relationships...
Yes, I think Sid the Science Kid is nice as is The Little Einsteins, really it's the trauma of separation that bothers me, not so much the lack of parents.
post #23 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelandmisha View Post
I certainly appreciate all the responses. I'm most bothered by movies where there is a traumatic separation from the parents and from that became curious what it was all about and why I couldn't think of a single movie where that didn't happen. We really have only watched Cars, which he adores. And even in that movie there is separation. I guess the troubling aspect to me is the imposed separation, I think if the protagonist wants to set out on an adventure, that's fine, it's just the traumatic nature of the separation that I have found disturbing. And yes, maybe I'm thinking about it in terms of my young child and may not be so bothered by it as he is older, but I just can't shake the curiosity about why. And I totally understand the age-old, global nature of the theme- I have a degree in English and a minor in anthropology. But, perhaps because of that I know that fairy tales, folk tales, myths, etc. have a function in a society and are designed and retold to transmit some sort of information about the group. And I keep wondering, what are these stories saying to our children? I guess that's my real question. What message is being conveyed here? And before we just start watching and trusting movies to be entertainment I thought I'd explore this more. So I'm very happy to read so many responses!

And thank you for suggestions of stories which either feature parents more prominently or don't require a traumatic separation to get the story started. I'll check them out.
Ah, I get what you're saying now.

I think the traumatic thing is, quite honestly, sorta a lazy "hook" into the story. Most older stories don't really require that. Fairy tales without parents usually have a line int he beginning about "um, the mother died and, uh, something vague happened to the father... and now, down to business." With the newer Disney type movies I think it's become the formula to have a traumatic opening scene that captures your attention right away and keeps you at the edge of your seat. I thought that Finding Nemo was so overt about the seemingly endless 10 minute cycles of "swimming... OMG DANGER... resolution" that it kinda got boring after a while. Obviously a movie has to keep you interested, but in this particular case it seemed to really oscillate between extremes and it just came off as sort of lazy after a while.

Now my mind is wandering... it is 3am... I was listening to a radio program recently about the Grimm brothers, and they talked about how originally the published stories were supposed to be an anthropological study for adults to collect these old folk tales. But that adults weren't much interested, and they caught on as children's storybooks for middle class children. And these middle class parents were a little dubious about not only the gore (and I think we've all heard "but the original Grimm fairy tales are full of gore, so that's proof that children can take very scary things!" But those stories weren't really intended for children.) but also about the really negative light that many of the parents were portrayed in. So in the second edition and later editions, the Grimms (the two main brothers, and then a 3rd brother who sort of took over after a while) themselves took out a lot of the gore, and changed a lot of the family dynamics. They really played down the evil parents, and in stories where the evil parents were important they turned them into STEP-parents and just sort of threw something in about how the real parents were really nice but, alas, dead.

So it's interesting that I think your concern also isn't new It sounds to me like the early 19th century concerns about the Grimm fairy tales! And a sort of invention-of-childhood age compression going on there too. The original stories for adults were toned down for the children who ended up being the audience. And now our society is now in a place where the original stories (in the form of books and movies) for older children probably do need to be toned down for the younger children who have ended up being the audience.

But back to the traumatic storylines. I do think that it is often lazy and formulaic and unnecessary. I think that the separation is necessary, but the traumatic separation is not. Sometimes, yes, it adds to the story: the line from The Secret Garden where Mary is told "there's no one left to come" and thus learns that her parents have died and everyone totally forgot about her is wrenching, but it's an essential part of setting up her character as both totally bratty but also very sympathetic. (And, slightly related, it's always been interesting to me that in the movie versions of A Little Princess, Sara's father is alive and they're reunited. I think it was the Shirley Temple version that started that, and I'm not aware of any other versions that don't have a living father at the end. So, sometimes, it seems like movies do try to un-traumatize things and whitewash them. The movie versions always take out the diamond mines, which are TOTALLY the best part). Other times, like in Finding Nemo, I think it's just part of a formula.
post #24 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelandmisha View Post
I certainly appreciate all the responses. I'm most bothered by movies where there is a traumatic separation from the parents and from that became curious what it was all about and why I couldn't think of a single movie where that didn't happen. We really have only watched Cars, which he adores. And even in that movie there is separation. I guess the troubling aspect to me is the imposed separation, I think if the protagonist wants to set out on an adventure, that's fine, it's just the traumatic nature of the separation that I have found disturbing. And yes, maybe I'm thinking about it in terms of my young child and may not be so bothered by it as he is older, but I just can't shake the curiosity about why. And I totally understand the age-old, global nature of the theme- I have a degree in English and a minor in anthropology. But, perhaps because of that I know that fairy tales, folk tales, myths, etc. have a function in a society and are designed and retold to transmit some sort of information about the group. And I keep wondering, what are these stories saying to our children? I guess that's my real question. What message is being conveyed here? And before we just start watching and trusting movies to be entertainment I thought I'd explore this more. So I'm very happy to read so many responses!

And thank you for suggestions of stories which either feature parents more prominently or don't require a traumatic separation to get the story started. I'll check them out.
You raise some interesting questions. Purely for discussion purposes, what about narratives with parents who exist in the story, but are written as largely absent from children's lives (and the adventures they have). These parents are written as being unaware of what is happening with their children. There is no traumatic separation, but what kind of message is conveyed about oblivious, perhaps even neglectful parents, and children who essentially carry on secret lives from their parents?

In some ways, a traumatic separation may convey a healthier family situation. The underlying message is that a parent would intervene and solve the problem if they could, but they've been prevented from getting involved. In stories where parents are present but don't get involved, I think you can read in a more distressing message about family bonds and parental roles - if you wanted to. Honestly, though, I don't, because I think tales about children having independent adventures are archetypal stories in our culture.
post #25 of 88
And not to get all conspiracy-theoryish (I get paranoid at 3am when I'm suffering from pregnancy insomnia... sorry about that), but I do worry that the "hooking" of very young children onto this sort of emotional roller coaster at such a young age sets them up for a need for more and more extreme forms of entertainment as they get older. I don't think that it's good for very young kids to be exposed to such artificial emotional extremes... most preschoolers are good enough at coming up with their own emotional extremes just based on day to day experiences! Don't even get me started on what happens in our household if DD gets the wrong spoon!

I have no proof, no study, not even any anecdata... but I still can't help but feel that if your 3yo is watching Finding Nemo (sorry to keep picking on that one movie... I really just used it as an example of what I think happens in a lot of kids movies) then where do you go from there? How could it NOT work to desensitize children to real emotions when they're exposed to such extreme artificial emotions at such a young age as entertainment?

I'm sure others don't agree with me, and as I said I have nothing to back that up. But I do have to say that it concerns me just how violent and emotionally exploitative movies and TV have gotten, and how younger and younger children seem to be the audience for these sorts of things. I don't see how things like the Saw movies can't desensitize a young teenager to the real violence of the world. Even if they logically know that it's not real, our brains work in weird ways and process new information by relating it to old, even in a subconscious way.
post #26 of 88
I am not disturbed.

if you look at children's stories historically that IS the recurring theme.

i recall all the stories i have read from russia, native american stories, australian aborigine tales, india and china tales (i have always been a fan of world fairy tales since i was a little girl) and what you describe IS the theme.

children are tricked, abused....

the way i look at it is that it fulfills the purpose of stories. i think stories are ways of sharing real life with everyone.

in fact i rather enjoy these stories because it kinda shows the deeper connection with everyone.

for example the role of animals helping out hansel and gretel. i mean all grimms and anderson did was travel around and collect the stories that are being told. and i think these are coping mechanisms for our children to deal with the real world.

historically the family is always there. there is no need to write about that. its the obvious.

i dont think children are being to exposed to things much worse than they were exposed to many years ago. however the vehicle of expression - books and pictures and movies is what makes it really scary.

i mean look at mother goose. i grew up with mother goose. i remember a LOT of the poems. not once, not once did i connect death with any of the themes. hush a bye baby and robin red breast. i have spoken to moms who also grew up with mother goose and they dont remember ever noticing the dark side of the book either.

i can relate to you looking at it from a anthropoligical point of view.

what is it saying to our kids? is it saying what we think our children is picking up? or are they really just focused on the grand story.

i have shared a lot of the stories with my dd. i tell her stories and sometimes i describe the scary house on a chicken leg with a scary witch in it from russian folk tales. in fact i have some of the original illustrations and they are beautiful. it did not affect my dd. she enjoyed the adventure aspect of it.

in fact if anything i think we go the opposite way. look at books and literature for toddlers and psers. i am not talking movies. i remember most of teh books are buddy buddy tales about getting along with friends, doing stuff with your parents and gparents. and they are kinda boring. to me. and were to my dd. seh wanted something 'fantastic' or adventure. it was really hard for me to find adventure for a 2 year old so i had to revert to story telling. dd's first favourite long book was 'and to think i saw it on mulberry street' by dr seuss.

oh it is sooo beautiful. in just its simplicity. a little boy 'sees' things on his way home from school. to me that book epitomises childhood for me. rather what our children expect out of childhood.

what also concerns me is the vehicle by which these tales are delivered. only thru books and movies. a kind of a flat unimaginative way. both books and movies, but of course movies the most unimaginative out of the two. has anyone ever sat and listened to a story? nothing, nothing to beat that. no book will ever come close to the story told.

i think in this culture we are missing out on soooo much. we are losing so much richness. this weekend i just happened to be sitting close to a puerto rican family spending their day in the park. and the gma was telling the tired gkids a story. i could not understand a single word but oh boy she was such a pro. she kept me riveted with teh tone of her voice and all the different dialogue she was using. i was lucky i had that when i was growing up. but i feel sad that my dd is missing out on that.
post #27 of 88
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post
And not to get all conspiracy-theoryish (I get paranoid at 3am when I'm suffering from pregnancy insomnia... sorry about that), but I do worry that the "hooking" of very young children onto this sort of emotional roller coaster at such a young age sets them up for a need for more and more extreme forms of entertainment as they get older. I don't think that it's good for very young kids to be exposed to such artificial emotional extremes... most preschoolers are good enough at coming up with their own emotional extremes just based on day to day experiences! Don't even get me started on what happens in our household if DD gets the wrong spoon!

I have no proof, no study, not even any anecdata... but I still can't help but feel that if your 3yo is watching Finding Nemo (sorry to keep picking on that one movie... I really just used it as an example of what I think happens in a lot of kids movies) then where do you go from there? How could it NOT work to desensitize children to real emotions when they're exposed to such extreme artificial emotions at such a young age as entertainment?

I'm sure others don't agree with me, and as I said I have nothing to back that up. But I do have to say that it concerns me just how violent and emotionally exploitative movies and TV have gotten, and how younger and younger children seem to be the audience for these sorts of things. I don't see how things like the Saw movies can't desensitize a young teenager to the real violence of the world. Even if they logically know that it's not real, our brains work in weird ways and process new information by relating it to old, even in a subconscious way.
See, I don't think it's conspiracy theory-ish at all! That's what I'm talking about! I agree with you. It seems everywhere the emotional takeaway is that it's not a safe world you live in little child and your parents can't help you.

Another element of my thoughts was started by hearing about the book, Hold
on to Your Kids. I have not read the whole book, just a sample, but it was making a lot of sense. Then I noticed this movie theme idea and putting the two together made me wonder if these movies are helping to orient children towards their peers instead of their parents? In these movies it is their peers who help them usually, not even other adults. So that's when I really started thinking about this and becoming concerned. Basically the premise of the book seems to be that our society/culture begins to separate our children from us at an early age and orients them towards their peers, which makes it difficult(if not impossible) for parents to have the guiding influence that we should. They say that the educational setting is such that a child who is parent oriented(as the authors say they should be) will struggle greatly and have much anxiety in the setting, whereas the peer oriented child will appear to perform better or be much more suited to school. That aspect struck a chord with me, as I imagine my ds would be totally traumatized to be separated from me at school and
would appear as ill-equipped to function well in a learning environment. As I said, not having read the book, I can only imagine where the author will go with the notion, but I can easily imagine them being in favor of homeschooling.

Anyway, I digress. But that book's idea really has got me thinking about what these movies are doing and I was wondering if anyone else felt this way?

And Lach, I had to try really hard not to wake everybody up laughing about the preschooler's ability to come up with their own emotional extremes based on mundane daily experiences! Too funny!
post #28 of 88
When I really think about most fairy tales and nursery rhymes I get pretty disturbed -- yes, there's the ubiquitous dead-mother theme, and in nursery rhymes there's also some really gory, freaky stuff if they're taken literally.

But then I remind myself that the scary aspect of those things never crossed my mind as a kid, so it's probably not crossing my kids' minds either -- they just don't perceive it the way we do.
post #29 of 88
I think it's a popular theme in children's stores, and always has been, long before Disney/Pixar came around, is because becoming separated from their parents is a common fear for children. People like stories based on issues that they think about a lot. "Thrillers" that adults like are based on the kinds of fears that adults have.
post #30 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
If you review literature and movies extending back as far as you can into history, I think you'll find that it's a common situation. There is nothing new about fictional children separated from their parents, through death or unfortunate absence...

Fairy tales - Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast etc.
A Little Princess
Alice in Wonderland
The Wizard of Oz
Heidi
Oliver Twist


Even in stories like Winnie the Pooh, the parents are absent. It's difficult to have adventures with Mom and Dad present. Narratives require a conflict to be introduced and (usually) resolved. Parents usually prevent conflict or resolve it for their children. It's convenient for authors to dispose of parents in order to carry on with the story they want to tell.


Heck, even the Peanuts don't really have parents around.
post #31 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
If you review literature and movies extending back as far as you can into history, I think you'll find that it's a common situation. There is nothing new about fictional children separated from their parents, through death or unfortunate absence...

Fairy tales - Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast etc.
A Little Princess
Alice in Wonderland
The Wizard of Oz
Heidi
Oliver Twist


Even in stories like Winnie the Pooh, the parents are absent. It's difficult to have adventures with Mom and Dad present. Narratives require a conflict to be introduced and (usually) resolved. Parents usually prevent conflict or resolve it for their children. It's convenient for authors to dispose of parents in order to carry on with the story they want to tell.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post
So, no, it doesn't bother me at all. That's the sorts of stories most kids are drawn to, and it's good for them to imagine themselves as independent problem-solvers. Children practice separation by imagining it, and stories provide an image-rich environment in which they can explore emotions and fantasies freely.

What sort of confuses me is people who think that Disney invented this. I'm hard pressed to think of a single traditional fairy tale or children's novel written well before Disney that doesn't involve the children being orphaned, running away, shipped off to the neglectful uncle who lets them roam free for the summer, and so forth.
I agree with both of these. I loved stories as a kid where the kids solved their own problems even if it was a traumatic start. Bambi though, made less sense to me. Although I can think of some maybe not totally traditional tales but longer works that qualify - Little Women, Five Little Peppers, What Katy Did - but most of them are very domestic dramas, not high adventure. Swiss Family Robinson is one of the few I can remember. There are a lot of 'new family' books too like Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables and all that.

It may not be hugely popular to say in a NFL community but remember, lots of mothers died in childbirth so losing a mother probably was that significant of a cultural trope.

I love how the Lemony Snicket books preserved the theme but played with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
There are good books/movies where there is no separation. The movies we've done are:
Mary Poppins
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (both versions, one has a different name)
Cinderella
Cars
Veggie Tales Pirates Who Didn't Do Anything
The father in Mary Poppins is scary though - my son hates him; so's the dad in Peter Pan - where the parents are the abandoned ones, interestingly.

Our favourite pro-family-togetherness modern movie is The Incredibles though. It does have violence in it but the way that family operates is something we really enjoy watching.

For slightly older kids there are a lot of books with families though - Beverly Cleary (and Ramona and Beezus is out as a movie version), Judy Blume, especially the Fudge books, and so on.

I think these books are less commonly adapted to film because they're just not as cinematic. And when they are they can get ruined (like I was annoyed at how Ramona and Beezus kept pushing into the zone of romantic comedy).
post #32 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelandmisha View Post
So I realize it's not a new theme, I was just wondering if anyone is bothered by it. But it sounds like mostly you just view it as a convenient story telling device?
I don't think it's the best choice for 3 yos. My ds found typical disney type movies disturbing until he was more like 7. I'm surprised more young children don't find them upsetting. But it's a great story telling device. Ds's favorite books are all the kids doing things and problem solving without adults being present (Hardy Boys, Mad Scientist Club, Animorphs, Narnia). Though those particular books all have families in the background. For young children, I think shows like Little Bear and Blues Clues are a better choice than disney movies. For older kids, the absent parent theme is interesting to explore.
post #33 of 88
I see the lost parents thing as going WAY back to the old myths and stories. Women Who Run With the Wolves (all about female myths) explains how the too-good mother has to die, in part so the female adventurer can go out into the world, and not be just imprinted with the same old story. There's more too it than that, but basically it comes from a deep psychological place of breaking away and making your own discoveries.

I agree that most of these stories and movies particularly are for older kids. I mean, back in the day everyone would have heard the same stories around the fire or bedtime, but a visually "real" Disney movie might indeed be too much for a 3yo... or 2yo! I did NOT get it that everyone assumed DD had seen every Disney movie at 2yo. We certainly do some now, but it's like Mary Poppins.
post #34 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post
Internally it bugs me. I don't like the whole separation thing.. but for them it is an intriguing/touching plot that rakes in the $$$.

We don't do Disney though For other reasons.
Same here. Disney has bothered me for a looooonnng time.
post #35 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelandmisha View Post
And I keep wondering, what are these stories saying to our children? I guess that's my real question. What message is being conveyed here? And before we just start watching and trusting movies to be entertainment I thought I'd explore this more. So I'm very happy to read so many responses!
I think at least part of the message is to believe that you have your own power. Pretty good message in my eyes.
post #36 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
I agree with both of these. I loved stories as a kid where the kids solved their own problems even if it was a traumatic start. Bambi though, made less sense to me. Although I can think of some maybe not totally traditional tales but longer works that qualify - Little Women, Five Little Peppers, What Katy Did - but most of them are very domestic dramas, not high adventure. Swiss Family Robinson is one of the few I can remember. There are a lot of 'new family' books too like Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables and all that.
I admit it's been a long time since I read them... but even
1) Little Women starts with the father at war and the mother working long hours, so the girls are in effect on their own to deal with the obstacles that come their way. They have very close relationships with their parents, and the parents are by no means neglectful, but they are absent for practical purposes. Many of the obstacles that the girls face also happen away from home with no parents immediately available: Meg when "visiting," Jo at work, Amy at school.
2) In The Five Little Peppers, the father is dead and the mother works long hours. Again, parents by no means neglectful, but absent for practical purposes. The Moffats followed a similar setup.
3) It's been a trillion years since I read What Katy Did, but I seem to remember that the mother was dead, the father was very busy (a doctor?), and it was largely through her siblings and her same-age cousin that she learns patience and all the other stuff that is the moral of the book. I remember not liking the book very much because I thought it was much too preachy! The cousin really annoyed me.

I'm not pointing this out to disagree with you, just to say that this theme is really so universal in children's books that it is hard not to find it! Others mentioned the Little House books and the Ramona books, and I think those are good examples of books where all members of the family are equally present. I read an interesting article once about how the Ramona books came under a lot of criticism when they were first published because many adults thought that children shouldn't be burdened with stories about "adult problems" and the Ramona books are quite open about the financial and career problems that the parents face. And, at the same time, this is one of the reasons that the books were so instantly popular... they didn't condescend to children, or romanticize poverty (the way that books like The Railway Children, The Five Little Peppers, The Moffats, etc do) and so lots of kids really related to them. Even as a young child (I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade when I first read it) I remember being a little incredulous that in the Railway Children the father's thrown in jail and they lose all of their money and possessions, but still end up in a lovely romantic little cottage with lavish meals and hired help while the mother supports this lifestyle by writing a couple of children's stories.

That's another digression, but it's also a valid point that there was (and probably still is, the success of the Ramona books notwithstanding) conventional wisdom that children don't want to read about grownup problems, and so that's another reason why grownups are scuttled off to the edge of the plot, if they appear at all.
post #37 of 88
Quote:
And I keep wondering, what are these stories saying to our children? I guess that's my real question. What message is being conveyed here? And before we just start watching and trusting movies to be entertainment I thought I'd explore this more. So I'm very happy to read so many responses!
Quote:
I think at least part of the message is to believe that you have your own power. Pretty good message in my eyes.
Yes, these stories allow children to safely explore scary issues. Many children wonder about what life would be like if they had to go it alone, if they had to face monsters or disasters without a parent coming to their aid. In side the confines of a story a child can wrestle with and conquer an enemy.

I think real life used to be scarier than it is now, and to a small child, with no control over his or her life, being able to conquer a scary situation, safely inside their minds, is useful 'wishful thinking'. It preserves our egos and gets us through the night.
post #38 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post
I admit it's been a long time since I read them... but even
1) Little Women starts with the father at war and the mother working long hours, so the girls are in effect on their own to deal with the obstacles that come their way. They have very close relationships with their parents, and the parents are by no means neglectful, but they are absent for practical purposes. Many of the obstacles that the girls face also happen away from home with no parents immediately available: Meg when "visiting," Jo at work, Amy at school.
2) In The Five Little Peppers, the father is dead and the mother works long hours. Again, parents by no means neglectful, but absent for practical purposes. The Moffats followed a similar setup.
3) It's been a trillion years since I read What Katy Did, but I seem to remember that the mother was dead, the father was very busy (a doctor?), and it was largely through her siblings and her same-age cousin that she learns patience and all the other stuff that is the moral of the book. I remember not liking the book very much because I thought it was much too preachy! The cousin really annoyed me.

LOL the cousin bugged me too.

I think you're right about the deaths - funny that I don't remember them, but on reflection - yeah. And those were the most intact families I remembered other than the Cleary and the Blume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post
...I remember being a little incredulous that in the Railway Children the father's thrown in jail and they lose all of their money and possessions, but still end up in a lovely romantic little cottage with lavish meals and hired help while the mother supports this lifestyle by writing a couple of children's stories.

That's another digression, but it's also a valid point that there was (and probably still is, the success of the Ramona books notwithstanding) conventional wisdom that children don't want to read about grownup problems, and so that's another reason why grownups are scuttled off to the edge of the plot, if they appear at all.
I wish that cottage model worked. Although not with the jail part. :-)

That was a great post. I agree. And I stand corrected!
post #39 of 88
I remember being drawn to just these kinds of books and movies as a kid... precisely BECAUSE the kids got to be independent and were doing it all on their own. For kids, like, me, who came from very secure, fairly sheltered homes, it was fantasy... a "what if." I still really enjoy fantasy fiction, as well as realistic fiction that bears no resemblence to my everyday life. I loved the Little House books as a kid... but I especially loved the chapters where the parents would go off to town or something and the kids would be home, taking care of business.

Childhood is all about moving from dependence to independence (or, rather, inter-dependence on other adults). I think that stories, throughout human history, have served to help children (and adults... think parables in the Bible and other religious texts) process what is going on in the world around them.

Now, as for the traumatic "hook" aspect of the separation... yes, that's probably unnecessary and something of the result of modern theatrics/cinematics. If you look at the "old" orphan stories, as a PP mentioned, it was just a bit of a note at the beginning. "Oh, by the way, so-and-so's parents died." Because, back then, it wasn't so unheard of and kids could likely fill in the "how did they die?" blanks with any number of plausible responses. In the era of, especially, modern medicine, losing both parents and all your siblings in the course of a week doesn't happen very often, so a more explicit and shocking (to kids and to us, neither of whom have likely experienced such events in the course of a normal lifetime). What is shocking and traumatic to us was an unfortunate reality during the times when modern storytelling evolved. Even the Boxcar Children, which takes place in and was written not all that far back in our collective social past, is sort of able to skim over the "how the parents died, what they died of, how come social services didn't intervene, etc.," because it was assumed that such things could ostensibly happen for any number of reasons.

Not that I trust Disney any farther than I can throw them to have our best interests in mind. I'm just saying that Harry Potter and such stories often have to start with something pretty... um... spectacular in order to place the main character in a position of early independence/interdependence, rather than dependence.

Now, age 3, in our modern world where it's pretty unlikely that any of us are going to get carted off on the plague cart (though I know of old people in rural Alaska who lost their entire extended family to influenza in the early 1900s), at least in most parts of the world, might be a bit early for such stories. But stories of independence/interdependence (and thus, separation from parents/guardians) in older children serve, I believe, an important fuction, especially if you consider the social origins of storytelling.
post #40 of 88
That's standard fairy tale fare.

You can't have much of an adventure or cautionary story with children as main characters and also have competent, present, parents. They would protect the kids from the negative situation that provides the whole drama/storyline.

There's a book called The Witch Must Die, I think, that goes into these themes somewhat.

Edited to add: It does irritate me though, and I try to avoid the "mommy snuff film" genre; bambi, finding nemo, dumbo, etc. etc.
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