Helping Mums Embrace Gentle Living & Easy Journaling

#DoSomethingYummy: A Warning From My Childhood: The Cinderella Complex

cinderella complex

cinderella complexThis post is being written as part of the blog prompt for #DoSomethingYummy  from Typecast which is the campaign for CLIC Sargent Charity for children with cancer.  I’ve picked the prompt ‘What kind of family did you grow up in? ‘

I did some research into CLIC and found this info on their site ….. As the UK’s leading children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent is the only organisation to offer them all round care and support. That’s because we’re there every step of the way:  During treatment – providing specialist nurses, play specialists, Homes from Home  In hospital & at home – offering specialist social care and support in the community – services for young people, holidays, grants  After treatment – helping survivors, supporting those bereaved


I have what I call a ‘juicy’ family history.  Ironically, it’s not some of the more difficult or shocking things that happened in my past that causes me trouble sometimes; I’ve been there, dealt with most of them and forgotten more than I can remember.  No, at the moment I’ve realised that I’m still haunted by the ‘Cinderella complex’.  I was reminded of it when I read Claire Macnaughton’s post.

I’m writing about it as a warning to all Mums of young daughters, who like Little Dimples, might like watching Snow White or any of the other hundreds of disney films available.

So cut to my teenage; ailing elderly parents,and many an afternoon watching subtly brainwashing black and white movies to make sure I stayed chaste and ‘saved myself’ for ‘the one’.  This was a very clever move on behalf of my mother, who was never going to do ‘the talk’ with me.

I was a thorough romantic and loved any type of romantic film.  But it birthed a belief in me that there would be ‘ONE’ person that I could rely on for ever and for everything, who would be totally and persistently reliable.  This belief has haunted me ever since in many different formats, and I’m still trying to shake it.  It is a truly dangerous believe, because it is totally impossible for it to be true and I’d held it as a basic fabric of my existence.

The truth is that everyone is reliable, if you understand them well enough to be able to predict their behaviour.  However, they won’t always be able to be there for you, do what you want them to do or want to be there for you.  Plus if you don’t know them deeply it can appear that they are very unpredictable.  Problem is; no one told me that.

At about 20 I suddenly realised that my mother (nick named the ‘wicked witch of the west’) wasn’t that all encompassing ‘would love me whatever I did’ person and quickly put the crown of responsibility on the big hairy northern husband’s head.  We are obviously still together 23yrs later, but that crown well and truly fell off.  I didn’t mind the crown falling off his head, but my problem was that I realised that no one else was going to pick it up.  It broke my heart and made me question the worth of the world for a scary while.

I thought I’d cracked it, but I actually replaced it with therapy; specifically the very complicated one that I’ve trained in.  This let me down as a Mum, as it was totally impractical in the life of a mum.  You can see where I was motivated to create the ‘Mummy Whisperer’ from now can’t you ; to create that reliable presence on the internet or in a book that a Mum could just pick up whenever she needed it?

I thought I had cracked it again.  But in my recent tiredness, I realised that I had sneakily replaced it with a slightly different belief; that I could be sure of what I was getting from people I paid.  Hence I employed a cleaner, and little old irish granny and would often choose to throw money at a problem, whether it was needing some energy (reflexology) or getting some DIY done.

It’s not so dangerous a belief any more, just uncomfortable to discover with hubby being made redundant, so a lot of the support systems I had built up are no longer there.  I’m tired.

Time to look for a new option maybe?  Or time to break the myth so that it doesn’t cause me trouble any more?  I know that there are predictable things in the world, but none of them are sufficient for me; even the weather seems unreliable now a days!  Perhaps I should look at why I wouldn’t want one reliable source of support; it would actually be very suffocating after all?

In the meantime, I don’t think that ‘Twilight’, ‘Disney’ or ‘Gone with the wind’ have ruined my life.  But as a Mum of a little girl, I plan to just whisper a few realities in her ear so that she doesn’t grow up to face the harsh lessons that I did.  It’s a fine balance between allowing her to see and feel the magic in the world, but also have two feet grounded on the realities of the world.

Isn’t it ironic that what seemed like one of the easiest parts of my childhood has actually caused one of the biggest problems?

Have you found that some of the best times of your childhood have made your adulthood difficult?

Did you fall for the Cinderella complex?  Does it affect what you let your children watch?

I’d love to know what you think.

30 thoughts on “#DoSomethingYummy: A Warning From My Childhood: The Cinderella Complex

  1. Is so true.
    I grow up thinking (as an Italian heritage) that all women were home taking care of kids. I create this fantasy person in me to prove all that was wrong.
    I made sure friends and society believed me as a business woman,while inside the very thing I was asking is to be : a wife, a mother and support my partner and my own family.Surrend to the real me. Without let go the idea that my feet and my panic about reality are firm on the ground.
    This is an amazing blog thank you Lisa.

    1. Ahh bless you Elena, it can feel very difficult when we try to fight the real us – kudos to you for working it out!

  2. This is one of the areas I worry about as a mother of girls – I would have been quite happy to raise them without the influence of Disney and its ilk but have had to accept that I cannot remove it from their lives

    Instead I continue to raise them to be confident, self sufficient girls who understand that if they need something doing they have to do it themselves, be it earning money, changing a tyre or cooking a meal

    That said there are issues with being too self sufficient – the inability to admit weakness, the loneliness because you don’t ask for help and the reluctance to trust and to love

    Now working out how to deal with all of those would be a huge leap forward

    1. Muddling Along – yeah!! And as I have nowhere near solved this issue myself, how to work with my two little girls? (Not that I really think it’s an “issue” so much as a “life process”…)

  3. Totally agree with you – the balance between looking after yourself and having help from other people is a very difficult one to maintain.

  4. I think a nice way to look at it and to teach little ones is “expect to do it yourself but be grateful when someone else does it for you”. That way it’s okay to ask and if someone says “yes” then that’s great and if they say “no” then that’s fine too.

  5. How interesting.

    Disney was banned in our house. No princesses allowed. I wasn’t even allowed a Barbie. I had a Jenny, with short hair and worthy occupations. There was no Ken equivalent. The Ken version in Jenny world was probably Sharon. But I didn’t have one of those either.

    Ironically, my son loves barbie and all things princessy, and all his friends are girls, and he treats them like utter princesses.

    It’s a strange one, and I’m not sure quite where its going, so perhaps Joseph will be that man women are looking for………. But then I worry he has unrealistic expectations of women. Sigh.

    1. Oooh now that’s very interesting Kylie – knowing a little about you I wonder how it affected you and your perception of yourself – did it mean you thought you weren’t allowed to be girlie (sorry to pry!).

      I don’t think that’s ironic at all – thats the way the world always works with the balance in the world. My son has always been very in touch with his feminine side too, I’m sure it’s good for them like you say. Don’t worry too much though – he’s only little ;o)

      1. Ah! Now here’s the thing. Barbie was banned because she didn’t fit in with mum’s feminist ideals, however my mum is quite a strong woman, but feminine too, so we were encouraged to have nice hair, do our make up, spend time considering our clothes etc.

        We were, however, expected to make our own destiny and not rely on a man to fix it for us.

  6. Hi Lisa, I’m surprised you didn’t say something about being able to rely on yourself – although that isn’t a given! Tiredness can affect that more than anything, as it leaves us more susceptible to others’ stuff. My OH says (in the nicest possible way!) that I become unstable after 11pm. He’s right of course – with a little one still getting me up in the nights! But on the whole, I have learned to rely on my judgment, my feelings, more than anything and to surrender, as elena above says, to what is inside. Deep, under all of our own stuff, is that connection with the Universe – our Spirit, if you like, and IMHO, you can always rely on that! Great post. Brave. Well done, as usual x

    1. Very canny of you to notice that ‘older single mum’ – there is another blog post brewing about that one. I do trust myself about 1000 times more than I did before I wrote my book, plus I know that generally it’s wise to split your reliance between yourself and an external influence. However, I don’t totally trust myself 100% – you might have to read between the lines of the post to see why, because I still haven’t been totally ‘open’ – but I will be. This is the year of ‘me being sure of me’ ;o)

  7. Lisa, this is certainly a thought provoking post for a mother of a very girly, Disney Princess adoring 5 year old who has found her prince in her wee classmate. Valentines card for said prince already hand-crafted, covered with hearts, with a spidery written ‘I love you’ inside and whilst uber-cute, it doesn’t rest well with me, and I think I now understand why. How much should we go in the opposite direction though of dispelling the myth of the happy ending, potentially resulting inthat becoming a self fulfilling prophecy?

    J x

    1. TOTALLY! We’ve got to have a bit of magic in our lives and faith in humanity.

      It’s something to do with making sure that we maintain our own sense of identity too at the same time – it’s ok to be romantic and strong, just not romantic and co-dependent I think.

  8. First, of all thank you for writing this and responding to my post.

    I like to think of one of the classic ‘rom coms’ Pretty Woman – who do I blame ‘Cinder-f*cking-rella’….The myth as I see it is that in Cinderella the prince saves the slave girl and turns her into a princess. But the truth is that we start off as princesses and we find the prince then he turns us into slave girls and he turns into a big warty toad. I am over simplifying it and using it as a light-hearted metaphor – I don’t think it is that black and white. We are not princesses and they are not princes – they have a lot to live up too and we have unrealistic expectations. It’s not called fantasy for nothing!

    The secret to freedom and independence is financial stability. I think we need to teach our daughters to not give themselves away too easily. We need to ensure that they protect their income, invest in pensions and create a safety net around themselves so they don’t end up barefoot, pregnant and tied to the kitchen so they can choose to be with their partners and are not bound to them by circumstance. I think we need to be honest with them about men – that men are human – fallible – as are we – and that the answer to our futures lies in ourselves and the choices that we make.

    I haven’t had an easy childhood but I remember reaching the age of 25 and thinking I have to stop blaming my parents for being rubbish. There comes a point in life when you have to be accountable for your choices and your actions. This was very liberating for me because it was when I realised that life is what ‘I’ make of it and that for me what’s important is that I live a life that is rich in experience and adventure. One life – live it to the full. Sleep when you are dead – tired is a state of mind.

  9. Funnily enough lovely I was beginning to think along the same lines as you last night as I started to think deeper into the comment put on by ‘oldersinglemum’.

    You are so right and you put it brilliantly that we aren’t princesses, but we are too.

    I know that all people are much stronger and more capable of standing the tests of time if they have something going on in all areas of life, so they are quite balanced and not overly reliant on anything. Money is definitely an important part of this. It’s even possible for it to be sorted for a SAHM so that she maintains her strength and identity. But we also need other things like fun, friends, health, work/sense of purpose.

    Then like Muddling mentioned we need to balance all that with being able to take help from outside too!

    I agree with you about taking responsibility for our past. I’ve done lots of that – I just didn’t start taking responsibility as much for the effects of what had seemed like the ‘good stuff’!

    Thanks lovely, and thanks again for your post on the powder room which started me thinking about all this!

  10. Gosh I hadn’t thought about this – I was a total Tom Boy. I’ve got a tiny baby daughter so it isn’t an issue yet, but I guess it could be. I’m going to go away and this about this and come back. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

  11. A very well written, interesting post. I have a son and a daughter and I definitely feel that it’s my responsibility as a mum to tell them the truth in life. Not yet though as they are only 4 and 2. I want them to enjoy their childhood. Anyways our favourite film here is Beauty and the Beast which is more a reality – meet your beast and turn him into your prince lol.

    1. LoL the whole ‘beast’ thing is like all the women who marry rugby players (I’m generalising from my youth here!), assuming that once married they won’t drink beer and lie on the floor pretending to be a dead fly anymore!
      BUT I did notice the other day a husband then going off shopping with the wife the next day – so clearly she’d sorted out how to deal with a beast!

    1. I’ve really enjoyed it Nicola – I’ve not really gotten involved in blog link ups before, but this one made a lot of sense to me, so I was happy to. I wasn’t sure what I’d think of following someone else’s blog prompts, but it’s been fine and very interesting to see how people translate them to their own blogs.

I love hearing what people think about my posts!