Brandie Crain

Date of Award

Fall 11-17-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


School of Literature and Language

First Advisor

Ernest P. Rufleth


This thesis shows how problematic parenting in fairy tales can have a positive influence on children by building their independence and giving them a more realistic and less naïve outlook on life. Fairy tales should not only be present in the childhood of our lives, but throughout every season. Problematic parents are prevalent throughout fairy tales, catalysts for the harm which inevitably comes to their children. However, this harm is usually not their end, as they are forced to self-parent. “All Fur,” “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “The Juniper Tree,” and “Hansel and Gretel” create the idea that parents are sometimes a disappointment and that children should embrace independence and be equipped to handle isolation and abandonment. In reality, disappointing parents sometimes breed disappointing children, but in fairy tales poor parenting gives the child power over their own lives and the tools to overcome adversity, passing this power to the reader, as well, be they child or adult, and a plethora of lessons can be learned by both parent and child in the aftermath of these stories. These lessons help us all in our endeavors toward “happily ever after,” which, after all, has little to do with princes and princesses finding their true loves and a lot to do with hope, understanding good and evil, the importance of freedom and independence, and handling disappointment. These lessons come ironically from fairy tales’ greatest teachers—those disappointing parents.