So you are born a princess, your parents arrange a huge baby shower, and then a mean witchy woman curses you. That stinks, and now you have to leave and be raised by three fairies.
But fairy mommas can’t be all that bad, right?
And from the Disney movie Sleeping Beauty, we can see they gave Aurora a pretty good childhood. I mean, she was obviously loved. She had animal friends. She could carry a tune, and on her eighteenth birthday her fairy mommas went out of their way to make things special. She had a beautiful dress, a magically clean house (no, really, it was magically cleaned), and a fancy birthday cake. Way to be, fairy mommas! Pinterest-perfect birthday complete! Not too shabby, but they had missed something big. We see in the movie that Aurora is lacking in some big life concepts.
Though she was greatly loved, the fairy mommas did not give Aurora any transferrable life skills. Life had been idyllic, but she had not been trained on how to protect herself in the world, how to resist temptation, and how to stay afloat through huge life changes. Fairy mommas had even missed the lesson on stranger danger. Parenting 101 stuff, totally skipped. For real, girlfriend had never even seen a spinning wheel, let alone been taught why it was so important she not touch one. I’d like to think the story would have gone very differently if everyone had trusted that Aurora would grow up smart and capable, if she had been taught how to protect herself and given some tools of defense. Fairy mommas, seriously, throw the girl a thimble. Sheesh!
So what can I learn as a parent from this huge missing gap in Aurora’s upbringing? Quite a bit, actually. One of my main jobs as a parent is to make sure my kids know all things from life skills 101. But a bigger aspect of what parents do is to help their children learn how to respond to things that fall outside of the 101 class. A mean witchy woman might not have cursed my boys, but because of life, bad things will happen to them. They will be have to make their own very important decisions. They will be exposed to drugs, violence, pornography and so much more. They will have to face huge life changes. I want to enable them to use their smarts, take what they have learned, and protect themselves while also hopefully leaving the world a better place.
When I was a kid, my family took a trip to Disneyland. As we waited in line for the Matterhorn, we watched a group of kids steal an item off a novelty cart. “No stealing”—life skills 101. But what do you do when you see someone else steal? I remember looking at my dad and waiting for him to do something. This was Dad’s moment to teach us something more. He stepped out of line and, in a kind, strong way, advised the group that we had seen what happened. He then asked the kids to put the item back and move along. They did. I was shocked. He had fixed it simply, and without contention. I remember thinking even at a very young age that I had learned something important in that moment. I had learned about influence, persuasion, kindness.
Love your kids, teach your kids, but, most importantly, give them more by not sheltering them from every little thing. If we don’t show our kids the fullness of life and give them skills they need as children, someone else will challenge them, and the best you can hope for is that they make it out of that challenge with nothing more than a pricked finger.
Life is going to be hard, so snuggle and give lots of hugs and kisses, but also trust your kids’ capacity to learn from tough experiences.