Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Published 12:55 PM by with 2 comments

Ten Reasons Why I Let My Daughter Watch My Little Pony

When I was a kid, I watched Reading Rainbow, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, Puzzle House, and Thomas the Tank Engine. Oh, and the Antiques Road Show, because I was weird :-P  At the very least, my mom wasn't too worried about me watching those shows (I was usually allowed one show a day) because they usually had good morals, positive lessons, and decent storylines.

Fast forward to television shows of today. When I had access to a cable television a few years ago, I tried watching some of the popular kids' shows on channels like Nickelodeon and PBS to see what they were like. Some of the shows geared towards very young children were fine and interesting enough, but the ones for about ten and up (the tween and early teen years) shocked me. There were sarcastic kids who were rude to everyone, too much focus on romance, vague blurring of moral ethics, and other problems. The most innocuous just seemed dumb; the worst had appalling situations or stories that I wouldn't want my child watching until they were much older than the targeted age, if at all!

Fortunately, from a very early age (see picture below), Harmony found a show that she liked when my sister (who is now twenty-two) introduced her to it: My Little Pony. Despite my sister's reassurances that it was a great show, I was worried that it would have negative aspects, or that it was just another stupid kid's show. But after watching quite a few episodes and learning what it was about, I am finally on the side of supporting MLP (My Little Pony).

Side note: she has also watched Thomas the Tank Engine (a big hit!), Clifford the Big Red Dog, old Mr. Rogers episodes, old Reading Rainbow episodes, and Magic School Bus (her second favorite show). My Little Pony wins every time, though!

Harmony a few months after her first birthday, already crazy about ponies!
Harmony is two and half now. She began liking the MLP figurines, the tiny toy ponies, when she was barely a year old. My sister found the toys at the thrift store she works at so we have slowly amassed quite a collection of them, much to Harmony's delight! They are her most beloved toys. She even has a pony purse that she uses to carry her ponies wherever she goes. Ponies go to sleep with her, they are held all day long, she recruits everyone to play ponies with her, and the best reward is to let her watch a My Little Pony episode on t.v.  She LOVES it!

So here are ten reasons why I think My Little Pony is a good show:

1. Friendship is magic!

It's such an important lesson for kids to learn how to be good friends to each other! The MLP episodes deal with situations like getting along with folks who are very different (more on that later), trusting your friends, appreciating your friends' talents, respecting the boundaries your friends have, appreciating what your friends do for you, supporting your friends when they go through hard times, being honest with your friends even though it might be tough, and many more wonderful life lessons that us adults would do well to re-learn, too.

2. It's okay to have friends who are different!

Each of the six main ponies has a drastically different personality than the rest. Rarity is a high-strung, drama-queen fashion designer, Applejack is a down-to-earth, hard-working farmer, Rainbow Dash is an athletic tomboy, Fluttershy is a gentle animal-lover, Twilight Sparkle is an academically-focused leader, and Pinky Pie is a bouncy party-planner! Yet they are all good friends with each other, learning to appreciate and respect each other's differences, even though sometimes Twilight gets frustrated with Pinky Pie's silliness, and Applejack and Rainbow Dash are always competing with each other to see who is "better" at everything, and Rarity gets on everyone's nerves when she has a freak-out session... everybody has quirks, and MLP teaches kids that true friends learn to love each other in spite of them.

3. Every person has something they're good at!

Each pony, when they discover their special ability, the talent that really "clicks" with them, magically gets a cutie mark (a symbol representing their special ability) on their flank, so that all can see what they love. The implication is that EVERY pony has gifts to share with the world. Heckyes! I wish all children could see that they have something to offer, that everyone has talents. Part of MLP focuses on three young ponies who do not yet have their cutie marks. They are intent on finding what they are good at doing, so they try pretty much every activity to see what might possibly make their cutie marks appear, and in the process learn some valuable lessons.

4. Life can be complicated!

This show tackles tough situations. One episode deals with colonialism, another with the pony equivalent of the used-car salesman (selling a miracle-cure tonic), another with stage fright, several with wanting to be popular, another with xenophobia, another with the fear that reading books is something an athlete shouldn't do, several with family issues, several with sibling problems, etc. These are hard scenarios for any age, and I appreciate how the solutions are found in a kid-friendly way, because sooner or later we all will need to deal with complications in our lives. One of my favorite episodes is about bullying. In the end, the advice given to the ponies is to tell a responsible adult if you are being bullied, and to also realize that there is often a reason why a person feels the need to bully someone else due to their own negative life circumstances, which doesn't excuse the bullying but does mean that probably the bully needs help.

5. Girls are great, and boys are great too!

While MLP is mostly focused on the female characters, there are male ponies too, and they are both equally independent! The female ponies are portrayed as powerful enough to save themselves, yet they rely on each other's strengths and try to help each other through their weaknesses. One of my favorite characters is Twilight's older brother, Shining Armor, who *SPOILER ALERT* marries a princess who used to be Twilight's babysitter. They are shown to have a happy, supportive marriage with mutual love and respect of each other's abilities. Male and female characters throughout MLP are portrayed as being equal, and no gender is better than another, because each individual has talents that can be used to benefit everyone.

6. Every person has strengths AND weaknesses!

Each pony has very clearly defined talents, as identified by their cutie marks, but they also each have pretty evident weaknesses of character as well. Rainbow Dash is brave, strong, and the only pony to have ever broken the "sound barrier" by flying fast enough to create a sonic rainboom, but she can also be overly competitive, prideful, and overbearing to other ponies. Fluttershy is gentle, sweet, and compassionate, but she can sometimes be indecisive and afraid of her own shadow. Kids know that we all have these same strengths and weaknesses, and with MLP they can see what it's like to deal with both, in themselves and others, and how it's important to grow and change so that you can become a better person.

7. Music!

Okay.... I'm a classical musician, and even I have found the MLP music to be catchy! Harmony likes to listen just to the soundtracks of the shows, so I'll find a Youtube channel with all of season two's songs, or all of the music from season four, and just let her listen to it while she plays (I don't often let her just sit and watch the videos). She is already starting to sing along with the songs, and will play with her pony figurines while she listens and have them act out the songs! The words are often clever or funny, with puns, good messages, or just plain silliness. I've caught myself singing along, and I know I've heard my husband whistling the melodies occasionally ;-)

8. It's good to try new things!

One of the hardest lessons for any child to learn is that it's good to try something new. MLP demonstrates over and over again that being brave and trying a new thing (as long as it's a positive thing) is always a good idea. Even if you don't succeed, you still can learn something valuable from the situation. And if you do succeed, that's great! Plus, you have your friends to support you, no matter what the outcome.

9. You don't always need to have romance to make a story interesting!

Frankly, I'm sick and tired of shows geared toward kids focusing on who has a crush on whom, or who is dating whom, or who likes whomever... kids shouldn't be worrying about that at such a young age! I know I already mentioned a wedding happening in MLP, but that is the focus of only a few episodes in one season. There are two other episodes I know of that involve romantic interests, and in both cases it was dealt with well at a child-appropriate level, I thought. The vast majority of the MLP stories do NOT have any kind of romance at all, which I very much appreciate!

10. Positive character traits are highly valued!

One of the biggest story lines involves the Elements of Harmony, which represent six important qualities of harmony: honesty, kindness, generosity, laughter, loyalty, and magic. Each of the main ponies embody one of these elements, which is a big focus of the storylines exploring friendship. Also, one of the most important lessons woven through the entire show is the power of forgiveness. *SPOILER ALERTS*  Princess Celestia forgives her sister Luna for trying to control the world with darkness, even after a thousand years of Luna being banished, when Luna finally learns her lesson and wants to change. The six pony friends are constantly forgiving each other for hurt feelings and wrongdoing. A dragon named Discord is forgiven several times for betraying his friend's confidence and for not doing the right thing. Forgiveness, for those who are truly sorry, is shown to be much better than anger, retribution, or rejection. Once again, that is a great life lesson that all of us could do well to learn better.

So in the end, when it comes down to children's television shows, I'd rather have my daughter watching My Little Pony than a show that has negative values or imparts ethics or lessons that are not what I want her to emulate. MLP is pretty cool :-)

Do you have a children's t.v. show that you really like and let your kids watch? Do share!


Katie / The Surly Housewife said...

My daughters are MLP obsessed!!! I'm glad to read all your reasons it is a good show. I haven't watched it much as it tend to get on my nerves . . . But I will say it does have positive messages. Great post!!

Jennifer - The Deliberate Mom said...

My girls LOVE My Little Pony and it IS a great show.

I love all the reasons you shared here too. My husband was the one who introduced MLP- I was sceptical at first but my little "Bronie" was right... such a great show!

Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.

Wishing you a lovely day.