My daughter loves princesses. And that’s ok with me.

| 17 Comments

I recently asked my daughter what she wanted for her upcoming fifth birthday. Her response: “princess stuff.”

princesses and my daughter

Up until this past year, I had successfully kept the princesses from knocking on our door. We didn’t talk about them, see the movies, or read the books. We steered her towards gender-neutral characters. We spent a lot of time pretending that the princesses didn’t exist. And that worked when she was at home, where we could light up only the parts of the world we wanted her to see. But school is the wild west and kids talk. Within weeks of her first day, she was talking about Cinderella and Rapunzel and it was clear that she’d become smitten with fairy tales. We couldn’t pretend any longer.

So this year, I waved the white flag. I opened the door and welcomed the princesses into our home. And here’s why:

[Tweet “Here’s why I opened the door and welcomed the princesses into our home.”]

They bring her joy

Yes, I want my children to be happy. Not the fleeting kind of happiness that comes with cupcakes or new toys; I want them to feel a deep, heart-happiness. I want, for them, the kind of happiness that comes from realizing a passion and indulging that love. Right now, princesses are my girl’s passion. Their glitter-dusted lives and their fairytale stories sweep her up in a whirl of excitement. They fill her with joy and I want her to know what that joy feels like. I want her to be so familiar with that joy that she can feel her way back to it when the world goes dark and the burdens grow too heavy. Years from now, when her tiaras have all been packed away, she will still remember what it felt like to dream of magic and fairies. And that memory will bring her joy.

girl and butterfly wings

It matters

When I stood between my daughter and her princesses, I was sending a pretty bold message: that it doesn’t matter what you love, what brings you joy, what you are passionate about. It doesn’t matter that you love to dress up and weave wild, magical stories about princesses and princes and fairy tales with sparkles. It doesn’t matter because I don’t approve. I am her mother and so my approval does have a place. But I’ve come to believe that place is not here. I’ve come to realize that I will have to pick my battles. Sometimes I will have to prioritize my values and morals and what I want for her above all else. But sometimes I will have to yield to her, this little person entrusted to my care, and nurture her feelings, loves, and beliefs.

[Tweet “Sometimes I will have to nurture her feelings, loves, and beliefs.”]

I get it

Tell me that you didn’t dream, even just for a second, about being Kate Middleton on the day she became a princess and I will tell you that your pants are on fire. I understand the princess love. Deep down in the part of me that once was a five-year-old girl gazing at Cinderella gliding across the floor with her prince, I want to be a princess too. I want the long, flowing dresses, the fancy shoes, and the crown.  Almost every girl wants, if just for a brief moment in time, to be a princess, to live in a fairytale. I get it.

I can guide her

Yes, there are parts of the princess culture that I don’t like. I want to shield my daughter from the obsession with beauty and appearance. I don’t want her to believe that she should sit, helplessly waiting for a knight to save her. I don’t want her to crave material possessions or idolize spoiled girls with bad attitudes (lookin’ at you Little Mermaid). But none of those things have to be part of my daughter’s princess experience. I can guide her towards the princesses that stand up as strong women, of which there are many. I can encourage her to build her own princess stories. While she is young and still likely to talk with me about her dreams and ideas, I can mold the narrative that plays out in her head. And I’ll be far more successful if I use what she loves.

girl climbing with tutu

[Tweet “I can mold the narrative that plays out in her head”]

It’s fleeting

I know enough moms of older girls to know that the princesses will only be with us for a short while. They are here, all hot and heavy, for just a few years before they’ll be too babyish. She’ll move on to something else. And I know enough moms of older girls to know that I’ll miss them when they leave. I’ll miss the magic they bring, not just to my daughter but to me as well. The princess years are simple, sweet, and magical. And I want to live in the magic, while it lasts.

tutu tea party

[Tweet “I want to live in the magic, while it lasts”]

How do you feel about princesses? Have you let them in?

~~~~~

linking up with Shell

17 Comments

  1. I am not a fan of princesses either and I surrendered too. I will say I like the new line of princesses though. Brave, Mulan, and Princess and the Frog all have great messages and none of them are waiting for the prince to save them. I try to steer my daughters towards those movies.
    Allison B recently posted..Today’s Blessing – Hand Me Down ClothesMy Profile

  2. No girls here but I’ve thought about it, if only in theory. I loved Princesses when I was little. It wasn’t an obsession with beauty, it was just imagination. Princesses made me dream that *I* was a princess and I imagined all kinds of adventures.

    There’s some bad with them, sure, but there’s still lots of good!
    Shell recently posted..Seeing the World Through Blue Colored GlassesMy Profile

  3. I love your point about guiding her. I think what’s important is for parents to offer an honest critique of the princess culture even while allowing their girls to enjoy it, and that’s exactly what you’re doing. In that way, you’re empowering her to use a thoughtful lens when examining all aspects of the media—both the ones she enjoys and the ones she doesn’t.
    Katie @ Pick Any Two recently posted..12 Habits of Highly Productive PeopleMy Profile

  4. This: “I want her to be so familiar with that joy that she can feel her way back to it when the world goes dark and the burdens grow too heavy.” So much yes! I don’t have girls, so the princesses haven’t entered our lives as much. Still, though, there are certainly things that I was quite resistant to when I first ventured into parenting and have come to embrace for exactly that reason.

    Thank you for this beautiful, thoughtful post. 🙂

  5. Is it sad that the first thing I did when I opened this link was to stare at the photo and question whether that’s supposed to be Cinderella or Elsa? Yes, sad.
    I agree with all of this. It’s fleeting. She’s not in this alone. I’m here to give her advice and talk about strong princesses and strong women.
    It’s ok with me.
    I loved them too and I turned out ok.. I think.
    Tamara recently posted..Clash of the Couples!My Profile

  6. Great post, seriously. I imagine that no harm could come of a good-natured appreciation for princesses. When I was a kid I dreamed of getting stranded on Gilligan’s Island or living on Neverland with Peter Pan, and a few other traditional–it’s fun to play and pretend, and it’s only part of a small and fleeting time of life, in reality.
    Rachel G recently posted..#ChinaLife: Plastic FoodMy Profile

  7. Hi! visiting from SITSBlogging/Sharefest!

    I’m one of those old moms now. My daughter is 7 and that hot-and-heavy princess phase has passed. I wrestled with the same feelings you had before, like you, lightening up a bit and realizing that the princesses brought her joy. And they brought me joy, too, watching her pretend and create. Don’t get me wrong, I used to emphasize how her favorite princess, Belle, was smart and loving and liked books vs. being a hottie!
    Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom recently posted..7 Life Lessons I Learned from the Facts of LifeMy Profile

  8. I am a COMMITTED Tom boy and my daughter is uber girly.. it was hard for me to embrace the lame princesses that my daughter adored . But then new princesses came along and I think we’ve found a happy medium. She still gets all that girly stuff and she learns to be her own strong independent self. Everyone wins! #SITSblogging

    • Yes! Everyone wins indeed! There definitely are good princesses and ones that are bad role models. Key is to help them choose wisely

  9. I still love princesses and fairy tales and dreams and wishes on falling stars. I still believe. And I never thought for one moment I would take that away from my girls if they chose it either. Beauty/appearance was never the lessons I took away from playing princess; it was always about the possibilities that awaited those who believed. And it’s true – they won’t stay forever and it occurred to me one day: my daughters will learn far more about love and men from watching the relationship between myself and my husband. Those are the impressions that will remain forever.
    Rorybore recently posted..4 Fill in Fun: I Just Don’t Know What To Do With MyselfMy Profile

  10. I think you have a very reasonable approach. My girls are into, too, but the almost 8 year old is almost over it and I know it will be fleeting for my 5-year-old, too. I think it’s wise to pick our battles and not overly control every thing they want to love. Within reason, too! 😉
    Nina recently posted..My First Advice Column is HereMy Profile

  11. I was so concerned about my daughter getting swept up into the princess mania too, but I understand this is a phase, and as long as I present other books, toys, etc., she’ll see there is more to life than princesses. Not sure if you’ve read “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” but it is a good read to learn more about the princess mania that has evolved over the years and its impact on our girls.
    Kerry recently posted..This Working Mom Loves Stitch FixMy Profile

  12. Pingback: September 27th Sharefest - The SITS Girls

  13. Fantastic read! Thank you so much for sharing. I too as a parent to two girls had to same feelings as you, and we let them in too. I never wanted our girls to love princesses, but I felt keeping them from it would be doing more harm than good. Really enjoyed reading 🙂 Visiting from #SITSgirls & http://www.ourpoolehouse.com
    xo
    Holly
    Holly recently posted..Being Thankful.My Profile

  14. My daughter loves princesses too and I don’t care. The anti-princess posts always make my eyes roll.
    Amber recently posted..Like Frozen? Win An Anna or Elsa Necklace from My Little Peanut Boutique! *Giveaway*My Profile

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