Raising confident daughters

We had a “Tangled” extravaganza night at our home a few weeks ago courtesy of a birthday package from grandma. My daughter and I spent the evening eating Rapunzel fruit snacks, wearing Rapunzel T-shirts and watching the latest Disney hit, “Tangled.”

A few minutes into the movie, I realized this is one of the most terrifying Disney movies I have ever seen. Well, it’s at least equal with the Lion King falling to his death and the fate of Bambi’s mom.

The villain in this movie is a very attractive witch. She has no gross warts and never changes into anything that breathes fire, but she is nonetheless terrifying because of the way she treats Rapunzel. Under the guise of being her mother, the witch berates, mocks and belittles Rapunzel so the girl will never leave her. She calls her chubby, tells her she couldn’t possibly handle herself out in the world and constantly cuts her down.

It’s so scary because it was so real. Sure there are no magical golden locks at stake in the real world, but there are moms today who do this to their little girls. Maybe they are jealous of their daughters. Maybe they are frightened of being alone. Maybe they are just bad people. Whatever the reason, they crush their child’s self-esteem, robbing them of the confidence to lead their own life.

I was seriously disturbed by this portrayal of a psychologically abusive mom. My daughter, too, kept asking me to clarify again and again that this witch was not really Rapunzel’s mom.

“Moms aren’t mean, right?” she said. “So that couldn’t be her mom.” Oh, stay little and sweet forever!

After watching the movie, all I wanted to do was spend the day telling my own daughter how beautiful and smart and wonderful and capable she is. I want her to leave me one day and go off to do incredible things.

The last thing I want is for her to ever feel less than she is or could be. I never want her to doubt my love for her, but more importantly, I never want her to doubt herself.

What are your ideas on how to raise strong, confident girls who are eager to take on the world? What did you think of the villain in “Tangled?”

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Stewart discusses it all while her 4-year-old daughter crams Mr. Potato Head pieces in her little sister’s nose.

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