The intention of this post is not to incite a princess debate. That being said, I certainly have my opinions, and I’ll admit that I can swing back and forth on the pendulum. Like many of you, the messages and lessons one can gather from fairy tales leave me uncomfortable. Likewise, the sheer overabundance of princess products in every aisle of every store makes me feel very put upon. I’m fairly certain I’d feel the same way about any commercial product that was showing up everywhere and stalling my progress in the grocery store by causing unnecessary “discussions” with a 3-year-old (translation: a 10 minute tantrum regarding a giant Cinderella gift bag we have no use for). Now on the other hand, I know my kids would love to go to Disneyland this summer, and I can’t imagine denying them the thrill of meeting the “real” princesses. We also have a number of princess products that have made their way into our home, and I will say that I rather enjoyed taking my kids to see ‘Tangled.’ So there you have it…I’m all over the board. But as I stated above, this isn’t about the great princess debate. It’s actually about me getting schooled by my 5-year-old.
It happened last week after I took my two daughters to the library. We came home with 8 books, one being a Halloween Disney Princess paperback (yes, it’s April, but the theme here is irrelevant). Although this story wasn’t much of a story, I chose not to protest because they picked out a lot of other great books. Also, it seems that when something is “off limits” it only serves to make it more desirable, and I’d like to avoid making princesses a bone of contention with my kids.
But at bedtime when the 3-year-old wanted to read the princess story I couldn’t hold my tongue. I said something along the lines of it not being a very interesting story or that there really wasn’t much to it and we should choose a better book. To my comments my 5-year-old replied, “You know mom, that’s not very nice. Everyone can like whatever they want to like.”
How could I argue with that?
Over the years I’ve tried to encourage my kids to have as much diversity in their play and friendships as possible. I’ve put so much effort into trying to teach my kids that everything is for everyone – that toys or crayons or movies etc. aren’t “for girls” or “for boys” – and here my daughter was demonstrating an understanding that kids should be free to choose to engage with whatever suits their interest.
While I worried about the messages my kids would take away from hearing a story of Snow White and Ariel preparing for Halloween, a much more important message rose to the top – people should be able to like what they like without judgment. Feeling hopeful that the messages I’ve worked so hard to communicate will continue to sound above the rest and reassured that my kids are developing the ability to question and challenge what doesn’t feel right, we did read the princess story that night…and I did so with much less distress.