Happily Ever After

Happy Ever After endings create unrealistic expectations. No relationship is ever “happily ever after;” all couples face difficulties an obstacles that test the relationship and must be overcome. Fairy tales do depict the overcoming of obstacles, but transcend these in order to envision a fantasy state in which all trials are permanently overcome.  In the stories, the achievement of this state usually coincides with marriage.  There is no such stage in human life. Children soon learn this fact as they grow up; if we raised them with more realistic stories, albeit ones still appropriate for their age, perhaps they would face less disillusionment later on.

Moreover, the gender models of the helpless princess who must be saved and the perfectly strong, virtuous, and unfaltering prince charming create additional problems and unrealistic expectations for children. I know many women who are still, even in their adulthood, looking for a perfect prince charming that they will never find and many men who fall short of the high expectations that the fairy tales have set up for them and suffer as a result.  Real human beings are far more complex than shallow idealized fairy tale types; and all are deserving of love and compassion, even when they fail to measure up to the ideal models that these stories raise up as most desirable.

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