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Karen you have really made me smile with this post, poor old Humpty - what a fattie! (I'm allowed to say this as a fellow "sufferer") I don't think these rhymes cause offence, do they? How can they? I can see that the media can have a field day with them, but really, they are harmless! Loving your suggestions by the way...


Like Linda, I feel that they shouldn't offend anyone. I've always taught Oliver traditional nursery rhymes as we have some old books that have all the traditional words in them.

Although when we go to our swimming lessons my other half does get a little offended when the chilren sing that "the daddies on the bus go fast asleep"!

If people are offended, they really need to find something better to worry about!

A great post which I'm sure will create some debate Karen.


Sorry, that was meant to say children! If everything was changed to be politically correct and up to date with the times then why does Peppa Pig live in a stereotypical family life - Mommy, Daddy, Peppa and George. Shouldn't Mommy and Daddy have split up because Daddy ran off with Rebecca Rabbit's Mom and only has Peppa and George on a weekend? I've probably offended people now, but I'm sure we'll hear people's views!

Stephanie Keyes

This was absolutely hysterical! I've considered this for traditional children's books but not for nursery rhymes. What it comes down to is how you are raising your children. Racism can be anywhere if you look for it - we just need to teach our children that they don't even need to make those types of connections.


Thanks for your comments Linda, Kim and Stephanie. I'm delighted that you all can see my point of view and just because we are singing a nursery rhyme doesn't mean we are evil people promoting racism etc.

Stephanie I fully agree that it's down to how we are raising our children. I must admit that the colour of a sheep wouldn't ever had created racist thoughts in my mind if I hadn't been questioned so many times about it.


Crystal Jigsaw

Eee, it just shows how many do-gooders we are sharing the planet with today doesn't it?! How on earth can we teach young children, for example those with special needs (like my daughter) who take every thing as "black and white" or should I say "literally", that Baa Baa Black Sheep no longer exists but has now become a rainbow sheep. This is so very confusing for children.

PC has gone way too far. I'm not sure where or when it all went wrong but I honestly don't think the majority of parents would give two hoots about their children being brought up on Humpty Dumpty and Black sheep. I think perhaps when they banned golliwogs we should have started worrying then. Little did we realise it would go this far.

Great post.
CJ xx


CJ my Nana knitted me a golliwog which I loved - I'd forgotten all about it, thanks for reminding me.
I really don't think the PC advocates are thinking about the children at all - just trying to create problems where there are none! I'm sure any innocent song, story, action can be manipulated to make it something it's not. Crazy.


Karen, I found this post really interesting. I have met this issue as a dance teacher and given it some thought. I agree with Linda that nursery rhymes should not offend, but admit to having ditched Goosey Gander a good few years ago because I didn't feel comfortable with the lyrics.


I think we can agree that there is no reason to subject children to the historical prejudices or hateful language of past generations. Making light of the concerns of those who are committed to building a more inclusive community for our children and grandchildren by putting a focus on the least likely rhymes to be offensive ignores the reality that even in historical times multiple meanings were meant to be assumed in stories and poetry.
It is always a choice to be insensitive, sarcastic, or dismissive of the concerns of other mothers, teachers and advocates for children. Having heard playground taunts based on Baa Baa Black Sheep, Humpty Dumpty, and other old fashioned nursery rhymes and seeing the effects over the years of this type of bullying, I am not a fan. More important than editing or updating to less offensive versions is to teach the values of compassion to children that we so often lack. Then they can choose to be more or less like us as they grow up.


Pamela you are obviously entitled to your views. Personally I have never heard these nursery rhymes being used in a bullying manner. If I had, I would use this as an opportunity to explain the historical context of the nursery rhyme and it's meaning. I would rather discuss the issues with the people concerned rather than pretend the nursery rhyme doesn't exist and brush it under the carpet.


Karen we don't use Goosey Gander at Musical Minis either for the same reasons as you don't use it. I'm not a fan of Wee Willie Winkie either.


As Mom of a three and a half year old, if i heard bullying in the playground using the words from a nursery rhyme, I'd be speaking to the teachers or headteacher about the bullying issue not the words of a nursery rhyme. Whilst Pamela is entitled to her opinion, we're entitled to sing what we want to, to our children.


I certainly do not believe that those who choose to sing a nursery rhyme that is offensive to another person means they are evil people promoting racism etc. and I am sorry if anyone has made this comment or suggested this accusation. I have met many compassionate, kind and supportive moms who have used words that is now considered 'hate language' because they were unaware that the terms were offensive. Most adults are willing to do better when they learn better, and pass along their new awareness to their children and extended families.

We have found that most children with special needs are capable of enjoying the same richness of experience as their mainstream peers, and there is little evidence that most would be confused by additional verses of nursery rhymes, especially when the originals often make little sense themselves.

More important than editing or updating to less offensive versions is to teach the values of compassion to children that will help them all get along better in the world. Requesting that our neighbors and the parents of classmates of our children be aware of our sensitivities is not the same as forbidding them to teach or sing to their children whatever they choose.

Creating awareness of the consequences to our children is the first objective of any mom. I assume the best intentions in other women I meet, and have found that differences of opinion with my closest friends on many issues are just fine. I believe that putting a label of 'political correctness' on most efforts to expand awareness and compassion creates a stumbling block to understanding the views of people who are advocates for all our sons and daughters.

I did enjoy the humor in this article ~ and admire the support that readers have shown to the writer. Parenting is funny business, and I know our children do have small competitions about whose mom has gone the furthest as they are growing up. I have made mistakes I regret and mistakes I have not discovered yet with my daughter and son, but they do know i have their best interests at heart and will always be there for them.

Losing points in the 'Mother of the Year' competition means less to me now than it did when they were small; I do feel like I have earned 'Mother of the Hour' often enough so I can hold my own in a circle of friends. I believe that most of the effort put in to being a Perfect Mom is probably wasted, because we are each the perfect mom for our own children.

I hope that my previous comments have not made it less likely for anyone here to feel compassion for those who promote what you consider 'political correctness' in an effort to create a more welcoming and supportive atmosphere for their daughters and sons.

My son was born with Down syndrome, and was just a preschooler the first time I saw him flinch when he heard a word I did not know he had heard before, let alone understanding that it was a derogatory term personally directed at him. I had read stories by writers of color about their first memories of hearing and understanding that a racist term was directed at them and at that moment all those words flooded into my consciousness.

The young woman who used the word in casual conversation did not direct it at my son, and was probably unaware that a child with a developmental disability was within hearing distance, and might not have made the connection between the word and my son if she had noticed him. The most I can do is help him understand that the words people choose reflect more about the speaker than who or what they are describing. And I can do whatever is possible to raise awareness in our community how much language affects children and other vulnerable people.

That being said: I have to poke a bit of fun at the idea that explaining the historical significance of a nursery rhyme to a bully or a victim is a logical, effective or compassionate way to deal with phrases or rhymes being used in bullying. But it is fascinating to read about them as an adult. A helpful resource for this purpose can be found online at http://www.rhymes.org.uk, for instance: mary_mary_quite_contrary.htm


I think that's a wonderfully thoughtful comment from Pamela and one to make us all think. This has been an interesting discussion! On Ready for Ten, we had a post from Keris about whether or not to 'edit' (censor?) children's literature:
You may also find this interesting in a similar way.

Affordable Plants

I guess lets put more discipline to our kids in singing some nursery rhymes to not use it for bullying. Nursery rhymes is funny but effective for developing the growth of the children.

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