One week, I thought I landed on something pretty cute, until I started to notice a theme. The cartoon I’m referring to is at first glance pleasant and even funny --- as I said, pretty cute. It’s called “Peppa Pig”. I really liked it, actually! There’s the big sister pig, Peppa, and her little brother, George, and then there is “Mummy Pig” (it’s a British show) and “Daddy Pig”. Everyone was interactive as a family, and they did educational and family things together, but the problem was that “Daddy Pig” was never too bright. Sure, they made others do silly things too, but no one was ever quite as stupid as Daddy Pig! After watching several shows, my husband and I saw that the cartoon was damaging to children’s views of their fathers and other men in their lives. Even the male doctor in one of the shows wasn’t completely with it. What was this going to teach my son about his father or even about himself? If I had a little girl, how would I have led her to view her father or other good men in her life? Always stupid, but mommy and other women are the only smart ones?
This simply isn’t fair to men -- or even true -- though society has been conditioned long enough with these thoughts, that they many may believe that this is true. Men and women do think differently in places, and prioritize things differently, but that’s one of the reasons it’s a beautiful thing when a man and woman make a life together and balance each other out. This is not to find the other one to be stupid, but to appreciate the differences and what each contributes to make the household run like teamwork (and let the challenges of disagreements build character in the couple). This is the way it’s supposed to be.
So, let me tell you what happened one evening: I came across a little book in my toddler’s book collection. Yep, you guessed it: It was “Peppa Pig”. So, I decided (was I bored?) to take a look at it. It was about the family going on a nature trail. Here is how the first page read [words in brackets are my thoughts on where this book is going] :
Peppa and her family are going for a walk on a nature trail.
Mummy Pig asks Daddy Pig not to forget the picnic basket.
“Oh, I won’t,” says Daddy Pig.
They head off along the trail with their map.
Oh dear! Daddy Pig has left the picnic basket in the car.
I continued to read about the family following bird and ant tracks until I got to the 8th page:
“I think it’s time for lunch,” says Mummy Pig.
[Mummy Pig has good ideas]
But Daddy Pig has left the picnic basket in the car!
[Of course he did! Stupid Daddy…]
“My map is wrong,” begins Daddy Pig,
[That too? Wow Daddy! You’re so stupid, you PICKED UP a stupid map!]
“We’ll have to follow our own footprints back to the car.”
[Okay, maybe Daddy has a good idea for once.]
Suddenly, it’s starts to rain. It washes everyone’s footprints away!
[Daddy fails again.]
Wow. I know what I’m going to do with THIS little book! Chuck it! I don’t need my son viewing himself, nor his father in this way.
If we want to build strong children who can think right, we will have to be diligent, even with the cartoons that they see. And when they do see things inappropriate as they grow up (as that is sure to happen too), we need to dialog with our children to help them to think whether what they heard and saw was correct or incorrect.
Parenting is a big job. It takes a lot of diligence and vigilance too.