I wanted my children to be familiar with original fairy tales, so I read them many stories from our Grimm’s Fairy Tales book aloud while my three young daughters were having their bedtime snack.
One night I read “The Cat Who Married a Mouse” to them. In the story, the cat-mouse couple sets aside a jar of food for the winter, but the cat keeps sneaking away to lap it up and then lies to his mouse wife about where he’s been. When their food has run out the mouse finds out that her husband has eaten it all himself. The story ends with the cat gobbling up the mouse. The last line is, “And this is the way of the world you see.”
I started to laugh off what I thought was a pessimistic view of life (and men), but I stopped myself. The great example of the men in my own children’s lives has hopefully spoken volumes to them, but still, on the day that we read The Cat Who Married a Mouse I felt the need to get on my soapbox.
I don’t want my daughters to be jaded and think that all guys are scum, especially because we are surrounded by a number of truly phenomenal men like their father. But I don’t want them to naively think that all men are as honest and respectful as their relatives. The truth is, a woman can go through so much heartache and grief if she gives her trust to the wrong kind of man.
So I tell my daughters the truth. Some men may tell them nice things and say they love them, but they should always keep a few things in mind:
Do his actions match his words?
Does he lie to other people?
Do they find themselves making excuses for his behavior?
Is he belittling?
I tell them not to pay attention to superficial things like his clothes or how cool he seems. Pay attention to his heart. Is he kind, honorable, and honest? Is he willing to sacrifice for them? Those things are the true measure of a man.
They say that girls grow up to marry someone like their father. If that is true, my girls will be in good hands. I’m hopeful that as they grow up, they will seek out a great catch instead of a tomcat.
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