29 answers

Restricted T.V.- Is Little Mermaid Okay?

Hello Moms! I'm in need of quick advice. My four year old received a belated b-day gift today- The Little Mermaid DVD. We are very strict about what we allow her to watch. She didn't watch a lick of T.V. before she turned 2, and then she got to watch 15 minutes of Clifford every so often. Now she watches one show per day from PBS, either Curious George, Clifford, or Dragontales, and that's it. I feel pretty strongly about not exposing her to anything that projects women in giddy-I-can't-wait-to-find-my-prince roles, not to mention the gross misrepresentation of what a real woman's body looks like.

So, I'm not interested in having my mind changed about the pros and cons of Disney. I am interested in hearing from like-minded moms and what they think of the movie the Little Mermaid, since she's of course dying to watch it now- or to be exact, as soon as she gets up from quiet time!!

Thanks in advance!!


What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Wow! What an amazing response! I actually did not have my mind made up when I posted my request; in fact, I was desperately hoping to be convinced that the movie was all right. Sometimes it's hard to be the mom and make unpopular decisions, even if it feels right in your heart. At the time of the post, I felt I needed to make an immediate decision (that weak parenting moment when you don't want your child to cry!)and so I thought I might hear from someone who either said, "I'm right in line with your thinking and NO, it's not okay," or "I'm right in line with your thinking, and I actually think this movies IS okay." Thank you, Yvonne, who was one of the first to respond, for giving me the nudge to do what felt right. And extra kudos to her for being able to give sage advice even though she didn't really agree with me! That takes real thoughtfulness.

I ended up talking with my daughter and explaining that Mommy and Daddy make decisions about what is appropriate for 4 year olds and what is not appropriate, together,and that we had not had a chance to discuss it yet. I also explained that sometimes our choices would make her happy, and sometimes they would make her sad. Her response was, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit!" And that was it. After discussing it with my husband that night, we decided to allow her watch a few selected scenes, on occasion. As many of you suggested, watching it myself was the most obvious route to go, which I also ended up doing.

I have to say that I was surprised by some of your responses, because they seemed quite hostile! You would think I was restricting the use of a winter hat in cold weather or something! I have many many reasons for feeling the way I do about the quantity and quality of TV my kids watch, and it is my right to have those convictions. It is also your right to have your own opinions, and I respect that, even if I disagree. We each are just trying to do the right thing, and that is not always going to look the same. As moms we shouldn't be in the business of judging one another, just offering up our own experiences and being open to the interpretations and perspectives of others.

Food for thought: children are incredibly imaginative when given the time, space, and respect to do so. My girls play dress up (mostly princess!!)constantly. They sing non-stop. They use their imaginations to play all kinds of things. And they have managed this with very limited input from TV. Consider this:

"Dr de Roeper’s findings are in accord with the comments of other researchers. Former Adelaide Thinker-in-Residence and neuroscientist Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield, in her 2003 book Tomorrow’s People, notes that books alone can foster and tap into our imagination, while a paper published by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Public Education in the journal Pediatrics (vol. 107, 2001) refers to research indicating that children exposed to “light screens” (televisions, computers, interactive games) do not build the sensory pathways that enable imagination and creativity in the same way as those whose early learning has been through the spoken and written word.

“For example, we don’t need to use our imagination to picture the fantasy character Yoda when watching the film Star Wars, but if we are told a story about a wise old person with pointy ears, we have to use our brain in order to build a mental picture. It seems that the exercise of hearing words and then having to turn those words into pictures helps children to extend and reinforce the neural network in their brains. I am keen to explore this area further with researchers working in the neurological field,” Dr de Roeper said."

I looked for research that said that age appropriate TV assisted imagination. Surprise surprise. All I could find was research that was done by, you guessed it, the television industry. I am very happy that so many of you have little girls who have been inspired by Disney; it's your choice! Glad it worked for you!

Many of you were concerned about sheltering my four year old. Absolutely. That's my job. I shelter her from what is inappropriate, a boundary that is shifting and changing as she grows. In addition, some of you were worried about me making these decisions for her, because she needs to form her own opinions and make her own choices. Yes, she does need to do that. That's why she gets to make a multitude of choices all day long that are appropriate for her age; it is another area that continues to shift, change, and expand as she develops.

I agreed with everyone who suggested that is the parents who teach their children morals and values, not TV. What does it say, however, if I teach that our family values every woman's intelligence, worth, and body, yet I surround her with messages contrary to those values. It's hypocritical, and I won't do it. I also agreed with the gal who said that watching one Disney movie isn't going undo what I've taught her, which is exactly why she is being allowed to watch it in doses, and at some point will be allowed to see it in its entirety.

Media was very much restricted when I was a child, and yes, I had some very envious moments, and as I responded to one person, I am the WORST Trivial Pursuit player in the world!! Sweets were also limited, as was eating out, and getting new toys (just Christmas and birthdays). I'm not as restrictive as my parents were, but I have to tell you, I am incredibly thankful for the lessons they taught me. I learned that I didn't have to be doing what everyone else was doing to feel good about myself. I learned that I could wait for gratification, rather than giving in to immediate gratification. I learned to value experiences over material goods. I learned not to be defined by my possessions. And my playtime was spent doing imaginative things with my friends for hours on end, as opposed to watching imaginative things for hours on end. As an adult I am proud that when I go to coffee with my friends I don't spend an hour discussing television shows. I talk about real issues, real feelings, real experiences. Yeah, TV can be a springboard to those things, but like everything, it seems moderation isn't such a bad thing. So, some of you are able to do all of the things I just listed, all the while watching lots of TV, that's great! That's what works for you, so be it!

Well, I guess I 'll end my long-winded "so what happened." If anyone actually reads it.: ) In short, my daughter is only 4, she has plenty of time to see scary things, see big-boobed animated women (doesn't that sound, just wrong?) and in time decide if she wants to have the tv on all the time (in her own house, though!). In the meantime, I'll continue to take her ballets, musicals, concerts, and encourage her creative play at home. We'll keep going to the zoo, the library, the museum, etc. and I'll keep answering her questions and encouraging her to answer them herself. If that's sheltering her, well, I guess we just have to agree to disagree.


Featured Answers

I think the Little Mermaid is just fine. My daughter loves, and I means loves Ariel. I have chosen to pick my battles. She loves the Bratz dolls as well, which I don't necessary care for but if I tell her no then she will just want it more. Just like foul language, drinking and other adult things kids need to understand that some people do and it and others do not. They need to know that that kind of stuff is out there and they need to be taught to make the right decision and not just kept away from it.

2 moms found this helpful

i see this has been resolved, however i just wanted to mention that i remember seeing he Little Mermaid first when i was a babysitter at about 12 yrs old. I LOVED it, especially the music and i bought the soundtrack.

however, having seen it again recently, it irked me more than any other disney movie. ariel wants to change everything about herself to get a man.

from personal experience i must say that i loved to dream about things like this, AND they affected me in such a negative way and took more than a decade to get past this way of thinking.

Hi J.
To go from PBS to The Little Mermaid, NO!! She has an inch thick waist, big boobs and sells her voice to a sea witch to get legs so the prince will fall in love with her.
Yeah the music is great and there is some humor but along with that it's all about a woman doing ANYTHING to get the guy! YUCK!
Stick with Clifford and those PBS shows for as long as you can. Goodluck!


More Answers

Well i totally agree with the body image thing I myself am not your skinny size 2 i am a healthy 16. i have a 2 1/2 year old daughter and want her to have a healthy body image. As for the movie i dont think that in this one the little mermaid is "waiting for her prince to save her" senerio. She fights against the sea witch and she swims very strongly through the water to save HIM. most of the princesses in the disney stories in my opinion are the ones that do the saving, cinderella overcoming the meaness her stepmother and sister treat her with,jasmin beats the evil jafar and tells her father who SHE wants to marry. This is just my opinion about the movies good luck with what you decided.

4 moms found this helpful

When I took my oldest daughter to see the original at the theater, I told everyone it was the best movie I had seen that year. The music is fabulous, at the time the animation was something to behold...However, my daughter didn't appreciate it nearly as much as I did. (There are adult jokes and scary scenes.)

Wasn't there a study that proved a child's imagination was just as active when watching age appropriate programs as when they read a book?

I found with my four kids (19-8) that playing while watching is a good compromise. Play sets or dress up items related to the story stored in the viewing area encourage that. I like my kids to be physically active (we coach, etc.) but I also love the arts and all my children love live theater and we are season ticket holders. Musical and visual entertainment is essential to happiness. (In my opinion.)

Sorry to tell you, my oldest daughter wanted to watch Cinderella over and over again and youngest daughter watches Animal Planet almost exclusively. There is no accounting for taste.
(What I dislike most about t.v. is advertising which can be addressed with technology. Even PBS has some questionable ads.)
Kids are born with unique personalities and while environment does influence them it cannot erase a romantic heart.

I once donated all t.v. and related equipment to charity and we did without for a year, exactly. We read and listened to stories on tape, but I ended up being in favor of the evil t.v. after our family experiment. You should just research and balance the information you find against your personal convictions.

You'll learn how to compromise or drive yourself crazy. I started motherhood with all white furniture and new construction and swearing to never allow white bread or Koolaid and have ended up with dark, durable fabrics on my sofas and one set of grandparents who managed to upset my nutritional goals in one meal...your kids will get the fact that mom approves of active people and not couch potatos but try your best not to be hypervigilant. Life is too short. There is a lot to be said for laughing and singing together about a program you're watching.

4 moms found this helpful

I LOVE the Little Mermaid! It was my favorite movie when i was a little girl. Bleave me I am no size 2 or even a 10 for that matter. To tell you the truth when I watched it when I was a kid I never even thought about that. The movie to me was about this girl who everybody wanted her to do and be what they wanted her to be. But she followed her heart and was the kind of person she wated to be. As far as the movie being violent when the witch is killed, it is not and i am the most squimish person you will ever meet. I do understand your worries but I really don't think this movie would have that kind of negative effect on her. Just a sugestion if you haven't watched it yet maybe you should watch it with out her and see what you think. If you still don't want her to watch it don't let her. Get her a different movie to be excited about, one that you approve of. Hope all goes well.

3 moms found this helpful

i think the movie is ok. the music and songs are great, and it doesn't just portray her and a damsel in distress. it shows her as an independant woman who is trying to do what makes her happy dispite everyone else trying to drag her down.

2 moms found this helpful

i'd say, you're only a child once with that euphoric feeling from watching a cartoon movie with singing like that. i think little mermaid is ok, since it shows how strong she is to stand up to the bad guy, for something/somone thats important to her. plus the songs are great, and it has some cool characters for kids. its hard when they start having their own minds lol.

2 moms found this helpful

I think the Little Mermaid is just fine. My daughter loves, and I means loves Ariel. I have chosen to pick my battles. She loves the Bratz dolls as well, which I don't necessary care for but if I tell her no then she will just want it more. Just like foul language, drinking and other adult things kids need to understand that some people do and it and others do not. They need to know that that kind of stuff is out there and they need to be taught to make the right decision and not just kept away from it.

2 moms found this helpful

I'm personally not against television, my daughter I feel gets plenty of time with other activities and enjoys sitting down and resting from time to time. She loves the movie Little Mermaid, it's one of her three favorites! I thought some parts might be scary for her, and she does get really animated during those parts, but I think every program and every movie has a lesson, even if it seems like it doesn't to us. My daughter has mermaid toys and that's the movie that started her "singing", which she now does all the time. I'd say for someone who wants to restrict viewing time, the movie might be too long and a little scary, since it sounds like she hasn't watched a lot of similar programs. I personally believe that we can shelter our children from unrealistic views, but only for so long, they will be exposed somehow, somday. And what better place to introduce unfamiliar situations than at home, where we can explain things to them and yield their questions, right? Not trying to change your mind, just offering an opinion. Do what's right for your family, mom always knows best!

2 moms found this helpful

For me = Little Mermaid OK

For you = Little Mermaid NOT OK (based on the reasons you listed)

For your daughter + You =

Little Mermaid not OK - crying = a double thumbs down on it.

Kids adjust and bounce back easily. Take the movie back to the store and help her to pick out a new one that's OK with you. She may express disappointment, but it will pass quickly. The "Little People" movies are awsome. She'd probably enjoy one of those especially if she's been playing with Little People toys over the past few years.

2 moms found this helpful

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