Most classic fairy tales — the oldest form of children’s stories — have a simple moral: Do what you’re told, or the goblins will get you. Think Hansel and Gretel. Little Red Riding Hood. The Boy Who Cried Wolf. If a fairy tale character is told not to do something, they’re guaranteed to go straight out and do it — and then look what happens to them.
But some stories are a little more subtle. Sometimes, they’re downright confusing. In fact, I’m not sure the authors really thought them through, because if they had, the endings would be different. If you choose to share these stories with your children (which I don’t recommend), you may want to consider changing the ending yourself. Otherwise, your kids might think these behaviors are normal. Whereas in fact, these ten famous characters from children’s stories have some serious codependency issues.
The Giving Tree
You knew this had to be on the list, right? It doesn't get any more dysfunctional than this poor tree. The Giving Tree gives everything she has, from apples to leaves and branches and finally her whole trunk, to a callous boy who uses her up and abandons her. In the end, the boy -- now an old man -- comes back to sit on her face, and she happily lets him just for the pleasure of his presence. Her only regret is that she has nothing left to give him. It should end with her growing a pair and telling the boy to sail away on somebody else's boat and never come back. Then she could meet Boo Radley and live happily ever after.
Carl, the Good Dog
This is a tragic story of a neglected baby and a codependent dog. The dog, Carl, is left to take care of a baby all day long, even though it's not his job, and also, who ever takes care of him? Not only does he take sole responsibility for the baby all day long, but he runs around cleaning up the house after the baby's asleep. He's like a stay-at-home mom, except he's a dog. And what does he get for all this? Nothing but a pat on the head and a "Good dog, Carl." Animals shouldn't have to take on this much responsibility.
Sally and Me in The Cat in the Hat
Sally and me are the hapless children who let the Cat weasel his way into their house and make a big mess -- not once, but twice. Sure, he cleans it all up eventually. But the fact remains that the Cat is disturbingly disrespectful of their boundaries. They make it pretty clear that they don't want the Cat to come in. And it's bad enough that it happens once, but when he comes back? That's just out of control. Learn boundaries, kids.
The Runaway Bunny's Mom
I was torn on whether to include this book. In a lot of ways, the runaway bunny's mom is pretty awesome. She's playful. She enters into his imagination. She loves unconditionally. At the same time, I can't help but feel that at some point, she should just let the poor kid have some space already. Just let him run away. You know he's gonna come home eventually. You've got all the carrots.
He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake. Do I need to say anymore? Everybody knows Santa's creepy. He's the forerunner of Edward Cullen. Total stalker.
All of Pooh's friends have mental issues of varying degress (ADHD much, Tigger? And is Christopher hallucinating or what?), but Rabbit really stands out of the pack. The thing is, Rabbit knows Pooh has a problem. He's got a serious honey addiction. And Rabbit always has honey, which is fine because Rabbit has self-control. But when Pooh comes round looking for honey, Rabbit never puts his foot down. He ought to be staging an intervention. Instead, he hands over the honey pot. And then he ends up with a Pooh-butt decoration in his wall while he's waiting for Pooh to get thin enough to fit through the door. Rabbit's got codependency issues that rival the Giving Tree.
Where to start? Tinker Bell is jealous, petty, rude, and destructive. Her small body is only matched by the smallness of her mind. She'd do anything to control Peter. She's like the evil ex-girlfriend who won't stop hanging around. Even after he breaks up with her, she won't go away. And she'll die unless everybody believes in her. Go ahead and clap for her if you want. I'll sit on my hands and call her bluff. She's not going to expire, trust me.
The Little Mermaid
Ok, Arial, it's fine to get a crush on a handsome boy -- even if he does happen to be a different species from you. But rejecting your family, selling your greatest talent, and changing your identity so you can be with him is heading into desperate territory. Especially when you haven't even had a conversation with him yet. Take note: the original ending of this tale was a lot less happy -- and maybe a little more realistic. Feel free to read that version to your kids.
The Mom in I'll Love You Forever
This is another classic that everybody recognizes as a little bit creepy. Sure, the concept of unconditional love is beautiful. Motherly love lasts through the years, transcends all boundaries, and encompasses generations. But come on. This mother is driving to her son's house on the other side of town. When he's a grown man. She's got a ladder tied to the roof of her car so she can sneak into his room after he's asleep. Mom, you're taking it too far. You're creepy and codependent and you need to get a life.
The Beast has a serious anger problem, and Belle is a classic victim of Stockholm syndrome who comes to identify with -- and eventually love -- her captor. Of course it's a beautiful idea, that love can transform anyone. But it doesn't always hold up so well in real life. And although the Beast does change at the end, we never see how deep his transformation goes. And the whole point of the story is that appearances are deceiving, so really, his physical change doesn't say much about his character. Is he still "her Beast" on the inside? That's probably not a good thing.
Photo credits here.
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