I read an article recently in a parenting magazine regarding little girls. The article said that if a dad calls his daughter princess and tells her all the time that she is beautiful you are "inviting her to think of herself as helpless." When I read that, I chuckled, and read it out loud to Dave. "Uh huh, helpless," as he grinned.
Emma, is anything but helpless. Lily, is anything but fragile. But if you ask them if they are beautiful they will tell you proudly, "YES!" If you ask them if they are a princess, without hesitation they will respond, "YES!"
Fragile and helpless, ha! Spoiled a bit - maybe. Aware of the immense value they hold as part of our family and to society - definitely. Conscious of what it means to be a princess in actions and in words - absolutely. But fragile and helpless - one hundred percent no.
Emma, the most princess-iest of them all wants to be a pediatrician when she grows up. Pretty fragile and helpless. She is saving her money right now - for a tutu? No, for a car. She's four, she's brilliant, she's beautiful and she's nice. She knows that she deserves to be treated a certain way, because she is a princess, and she knows that she needs to treat others a certain way, because she is a princess. Her daddy tells her everyday how beautiful she is and that she is Princess Emma. And I think, in my personal non clinical opinion, that those conversations between her daddy and her have contributed to her self-esteem and her confidence.
Lily, she's two. Right now she better be a singer because she has had so much practice with those little lungs of hers, that they better be put to great use! But Lily, even though she is only two - you don't mess with her. She knows that she is important, that she is valuable, that she is special and don't suggest otherwise. Helpless and fragile are not words that I would use to describe her...at all.
But let's move on. I know that in our society now there is a big push for not forcing our kids into preset gender roles. Why do girls have to be nurses, they can be scientists? Why do girls have to stay at home and be mommy's - they can go to work and the dad's can stay at home! Why must girls play with dollies and boys play with trucks? Whatever. Emma, if I bought her a truck would look at me confused and ask me where her princess was. If I bought a doll for Luke he would say, "Here, let me take you to your mommy," as he walked the baby over to Emma. Emma wants to dress up as a princess and Luke wants to dress up as a super hero. Emma wants to mull over and discuss why my mom's new bed hurt her, Luke went right in and tried to fix the problem. BOYS AND GIRLS ARE DIFFERENT! And if I teach my son that girls are just like boys, he will treat them JUST. LIKE. BOYS. Here's a question - you want your daughter to marry a man who treats her like a man, or one who treats your daughter like royalty?
I teach my kids that we need to be kind to all people. Boys and girls, black and white, all people. But I am teaching my son that he needs to be a gentleman. He needs to open doors for people, offer to help people, treat girls with respect and like precious princesses that they are. He knows that he can be the hero - but only if he behaves like a prince. If he behaves like an ogre (except for Shrek) then he will be treated like one.
When Luke grows up he says he wants to be a daddy and work hard. He's not sure what he wants to work hard doing right now; generally his answer is Spiderman, but nonetheless, he wants to work hard. I know that he sees Dave working hard and providing for our family...but is that so bad? Is it so bad that Emma sees me staying at home and taking care of her while Dave goes and slays dragons for our family so that we will be provided for? I don't think so.
I want our daughters to know that they are valuable, precious and loved so that when the first boy comes along and tells her all those things she isn't swept off her feet and ready to do whatever he wants. I want her to think, "Glad you are aware of that!" I want my son to know how to be a gentleman and a hard worker so that when the time comes to provide for his family he is ready to step up to the plate and do so. I don't think I am hurting them by encouraging my children in the way God wired them - I think that I am giving them confidence to go and do what God wants of them.
So, we will continue telling our girls that they are princesses - however...Dave did stop telling them that princesses should not have to climb the stairs. They were getting too heavy.