Please stop calling your daughter “princess.”
Unless you were born into a royal family or married into one, she is not a princess.
Yes, parents mean it as an endearment. You love your daughter and want to convey your pride and affection. She is wonderful, special and the light of your life.
So tell her that. And then tell her she also is smart, talented, and kind. That is what she needs to hear. Not a nickname that is associated with an affected, spoiled, entitled, regal child who selfishly orders others around.
Kids love to play dress-up and pretend to be someone else. This is a normal, fun part of childhood. Wearing a tiara with a Cinderella gown or running around in a dinosaur costume makes for imaginative play. Play acting is important for proper development.
But that’s what is it – make believe. When the dress-up clothes go back into the trunk, real life is here. And nobody should be sitting around waiting for some guy to figure out which foot fits into the glass slipper so their lives will be perfect. It’s a nice story, but that’s all it is – a story. Children may not realize that. And so we have to do better by them.
Your daughter is not and cannot be a princess, so please don’t call her one. Whether we mean to or not, we are filling their heads with unrealistic and unhealthy expectations.
The “princess myth” tells her she is not good enough the way she is. That she has to change to suit someone else’s idea of beauty or obedience. That she is dependent upon someone smarter and stronger. That she should try to become something she isn’t and can’t be. And that’s wrong.
Fill her head with stories and biographies of women who have done great things without slaying a dragon or waiting for some prince to rescue her. Tell her the history of your family, flaws and all, about the real people who brought you to where you are today. The actual stories about people who make up her background are the ones she needs to hear. And most importantly, her bright and independent future is hers to control.
Call her “judge” or “doctor” or “teacher” or “mayor” or “electrician.” Those are attainable, worthwhile inspirations.
We must raise girls and boys with healthy, confident expectations of what they realistically can achieve. Help them choose goals and role models that can actually make a difference in the world. Show them insightful visionaries who have lived meaningful lives.
There is nothing wrong with being a princess if that’s what one really is. Modern royals can do more than make appearances. Their charities sponsor and promote worthwhile causes. We like to follow them and imagine how they live. But we don’t see the whole story.
And it’s not what our lives here in the Illinois Valley look like.
It’s fine to read fairytales and watch Disney movies; just don’t emphasize the fake power. Walk away from the drama and find actual heroes to embrace.
Put the crowns away after playing is done and show children how to work together to find bravery within themselves.
And save the “princess” for Diana.
• Karen Roth is a semiretired librarian/educator living in Ottawa. She can be reached at email@example.com.