Nursery Rhymes Not Child Friendly

January 18, 2009
Most every one has at least heard one nursery rhyme in their lifetime. Many children learn nursery rhymes from being tucked into bed at night and sung to them by their parents. I know that’s how I learned all the ones I know. We are taught them as children and they seem to stick with us for the rest of our lives.
When we recite them to a child, a younger sibling, or cousin we don’t really think about the lyrics or the meaning of the nursery rhyme. If you actually sit down and think about it not all nursery rhymes are child friendly. Some are filled with violence and other topics inappropriate for children.
The nursery rhyme “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater” involves a man who had a wife, but could not keep her. The husband ended up kidnapping his wife and putting her in a pumpkin shell to keep her from running away. This rhyme is putting an impression upon children that women are insufficient to men. It’s practically saying that men are allowed to do whatever they want to their wives, even keep them hostage.

“Ring around the Rosies” is actually a chant that goes back to the 1600’s and is about the Plague of London which killed 70,000 of the 460,000 residents. “Ring around the rosies” is the rosy colored rash one would get. “Pocket full of posies” refers to the medicine and herbs people carried with them to prevent the plague and “We all fall down” refers to the collapse of one who died having the plague.
“Goosey, Goosey, Gander” is another nursery rhyme which has one man throwing another man, though older, down a flight of stairs. That has got to hurt. The younger man happened upon the older man while he was wandering around in his lady’s chamber. His reason for throwing the older guy down the stairs was because he would not say his prayers. I guess we can throw just anyone down a flight a stairs and for any reason we want. If I don’t like you, then I can throw you down the stairs. It might not be nice, but the nursery rhyme is backing me up.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

pewpew7 said...
Feb. 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm
stop crying  
Artgirl1999 said...
Feb. 13, 2013 at 10:27 am
There's a comedian named Tim Hawkins on YouTube. he did a thing about nursery rhymes. If you search Tim Hawkins nursery rhymes, it should come up.
flyingpinkgiraffes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 18, 2011 at 4:38 am

I wouldn't say that Peter KIDNAPPED her and put her in a pumpkin shell.  I just kinda pictured him being all nice and going "hey, since we don't have any food, why don't you live in this pumpkin shell?"  and then she was like "okay, then I'll have lots of food!"

lol.  :-)

Emily555 said...
Dec. 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm
It's just when these nursery rhymes were made, they were perfectly acceptable.  It's just habit/tradition that people cite them today.
Kaliseia_N said...
Apr. 19, 2010 at 11:24 am
Same with Grimm's fairy tales (and many of the origional Disney stories...) Not only, for many of these nursery rhymes, is the literal meaning very disturbing- talk about some of the underlying symbolism.
mplo replied...
Sept. 4, 2015 at 3:48 pm
It's true that many of Grimm's Fairy Tales and many Mother Goose Rhymes are really not so guileless or innocent when one really stops to think about it. As a kid, the Grimm's Fairy Tails versions that I and other kids read were very watered-down versions, that took out much of the more intense aspects of them. Walt Disney versions of Snow White, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan, for example, are also quite watered down, because they take out the real stories behind the abov... (more »)
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