The Short Story
Some people may not realize that they are who they are because of their parents. Their parent’s behavior absolutely defines them. Parental behavior does play a very important role in molding a child and shaping its emotional and physical needs. This behavior also impacts on the cognitive development and social wellbeing of a child. The greatest impact is seen in the effective parenting in many generations to come. Good parenting involves developing and giving expectations that are clear, being calm with one’s child when it faces challenges like getting upset, acting as a role model to it and giving the praise for its behavior, and always supporting the child. This topic is derived primarily from two short stories that define and contrast parental behavior and the results of the behavior.
The first story is of a young girl named Cinderella. As narrated by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Cinderella was a very beautiful daughter of a wealthy man. Cinderella’s mother was a very loving, caring, and spiritual woman. She loved her daughter so much and wanted her to grow into a good girl, who is pious. She encouraged her that remaining pious and being a good girl would give her utmost protection from God (“Grimm 021: Cinderella”). Unfortunately, Cinderella’s mother became sick, spent some little time with her loving daughter, and eventually passed away. Before her death, Cinderella’s mother promised her that she would look down on her from heaven and always be near her. Her death made Cinderella very sad. Every day the girl would go out of her mother’s grave and weep and strictly follow the instruction given by her mom to always remain pious and good (“Grimm 021: Cinderella”).
Further in the story, we are told that Cinderella’s father married another woman. She brought her two daughters into the house. They were equally beautiful. However, unlike Cinderella, these girls were evil and had dark hearts. From this, it is clear that their mother had not instilled any discipline as the kids were growing up. These girls and their mother took advantage of Cinderella and even called her names like a stupid goose. What is more, she was denied all the freedom she possessed, subjected to hard labor, and even chased from the parlor. All this occurred following her father’s death. With her whole family being gone, Cinderella felt that her only rightful place was the kitchen, where she worked as the maid. Cinderella’s stepsisters took her beautiful clothes away. They laughed at her and insulted her, and eventually, she was turned into a slave in the house (“Grimm 021: Cinderella”).
However, lucky for Cinderella, her dad left her a magical twig that grew into a tree. Three times every day Cinderella went to this tree. Beneath the tree, she wept and, being a pious girl, she prayed. Every time she was there, a white bird would patch on the tree and throw down everything that Cinderella had wished for (“Grimm 021: Cinderella”). The girl’s luck took a positive turn when the King of the area announced a festival that was going to last for three consecutive days. Every beautiful girl in the village who was young was invited to attend. Cinderella, treated as a slave, had to help her stepsisters to comb their hair, brush their shoes, and even to fasten their buckles. While they were going to the king’s castle to attend the festival, Cinderella was obedient and did just as her stepsisters asked. They, however, did not allow Cinderella to attend the festival, because she was covered in dirt and dust. Her stepmother would not let her go (“Grimm 021: Cinderella”).
Finally, Cinderella got the opportunity to attend the event, but never had any beautiful dress. She went to the hazel-tree, wished for silver and gold down to her, and then a bird threw a magnificent dress for her. She wore this to the festival and everyone was astonished at how beautiful she was. The prince liked her and wanted to marry her due to her good nature. Eventually, he married this poor girl, and Cinderella’s life changed for good. We can conclude from this that Cinderella was able to maintain a good personality due to the values her mother taught her to practice.
A Sheltered Woman
Another story is that of A Sheltered Woman, told by Yiyun Li. Her name was Auntie Mei. She was a live-in nanny, who worked for mothers and their newborns for eleven years. Her policy remained to leave the family she was working for the day the baby turned one month old, unless otherwise stated or requested by her employer. She administered tight routine for all babies and mothers she took care of (Li). Growing up, two mythic ladies raised Aunty Mei. The villagers shunned these two women. They, however, welcomed her. She was told about her grandfather, her father, and other family members. She could tell that the village had fearfully disapproved her elders. Her grandmother was skinny and poor and was not used to daylight, because they were not accepted and had to keep a low profile and be in hiding (Li).
Aunty Mei’s mother could barely eat. All she wanted was her daughter to have some food. Aunty Mei left home when these two women, mother and grandmother, died. On their death, there was nothing left to anchor aunty Mei (Li). She was married and never told her husband about her mother and grandmother. She was a very hardworking lady, and her husband highly anticipated sharing a solid life together with her. She never got to stay with her father or grandfather, since they were never there for them. Her background facilitated her love for the job of helping newborns and pregnant women. She, however, had negative attitudes towards men. This bad attitude made her develop a hate for her husband to an extent that she wished his death. This wish surely came through, and she was very much disturbed by it. She could not even fall in love with Paul, who really liked her (Li).
Analysis of the Two Stories
From the two stories, that of Cinderella and Aunty Mei, it is quite evident that parental behavior has a direct effect on the upbringing, growth, and development of a child. This behavior affects the entire life of an individual from childhood through to adulthood. Sponges and children have one thing in common: they both take up anything that comes their way, whether bad or good. They are able to model all the things a parent is doing and naturally incorporate the things they see, until those things become part of their life. It is, therefore, very important that the parents act as good examples for the children. Examples that are negative can prove detrimental in the development of the child and can even make them have bad behavior.
Parents are able to nature good social skills in their behavior. This is because children who are antisocial learn this behavior from the parents. This skill is helpful and may be interpreted from being polite by saying words like ‘thank you’ and ‘please’. An aspect of behavior like stress leaves a legacy in a child’s life from the parent. The way parents manage stress will determine how the child, in turn, will manage itself in stressful situations. Cinderella’s mother was a religious woman. She could pray to God when stressed, and we see the mother advising her daughter on her deathbed to be pious. Cinderella, whenever she got stressed, could run to the hazel tree and pray, then her wishes would be granted. This was a good behavior she got from the mother. Her mother taught her good morals and turned her into a good, lovely girl. Despite the challenges she faced from her stepfamily, she never let lose her obedience and discipline. This resulted in her enduring the challenges, and eventually getting married with a prince, hence enjoying life.
Parents ought to be cautious when bringing up their children. It is a sole obligation of both parents, mother and father, to take responsibility of caring for their children. Children brought up by single parents, like the mother or grandmother only, and who did not experience the love of their fathers develop bad attitudes towards absent parent. If a child was only raised by the female parents, such as mother and grandmother, like in the case of Aunty Mei, then being grown up, it develops resentment and even lack of concern for the opposite sex, like fathers and husbands. Aunty Mei’s adult life was directly impacted by her childhood. She developed the motherly compassion and love. Staying with her mother and grandmother, lacking the father and grandfather, she knew the challenges women and their newborns go through. This moved her to develop interest and passion as a nanny, hence taking utmost care of the mothers and newborn. As a result, this passion gave her much recognition and appreciation to an extent that she became the most experienced nanny, who everyone could hope for.
In conclusion, parents ought to be careful with how they administer discipline in the family. If the parents put tight and strict measures for the child, it will definitely grow into disciplined adult. From the story, we see that Aunty Mei was a very strict lady, she did everything to perfection, and always wanted the best standards possible. This is a clear indication that she must have been raised in an upright way. The story mentions her parents as mythical. In a way, this means they were legendary. Thus, a legendary person must have a high measure of quality standards and discipline. Cinderella’s stepsisters lacked discipline, and that was exactly what they copied from their mother. Such lack of discipline and disrespect is what moved them to mistreat Cinderella. It is, therefore, true to conclude that parental behavior defines the outcome of an individual.
“Grimm 021: Cinderella.” University of Pittsburgh. June 1, 2011. 06 Feb. 2017. <http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm021.html>
Li, Yiyun. “A Sheltered Woman.” The New Yorker. Condé Nast, March 10, 2014. 06 Feb. 2017. <http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/03/10/a-sheltered-woman>