I know there are a lot of parents who have varied feelings on their children idolizing the Disney princesses and some won’t let them watch the movies or play with the toys.
I’m not one of those moms. I make sure that my daughter is exposed to plenty of varying experiences in life, including the TV she watches and the activities she participates in. While I will agree, the Disney princesses may not be the best role models, sitting around waiting for their princes to come and save them, times are changing even in the Disney movies. The two most recent princesses, Rapunzel and Merida, come with story lines that show them as strong and determined women.
But do you want to know why I REALLY don’t care if she idolizes them right now? She’s 5. She’s got plenty of time to grow up and learn about influential women in society. At 5 she is still just a little too young to completely understand the impact that women like Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and others had on society today. It’s really ok with me if Rapunzel is the center of her universe at the moment.
This all came to a head the other day when she told her teacher she was going to be a princess for “Career Day” during spirit week at her school and her teacher told her she couldn’t be. Mama bear had no time for that. Why? Because if she wants to be a princess, she can be a princess. She’s 5. Heck, up until a few months ago when you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she consistently said the Tooth Fairy. At least princesses exist!
I posted about this on Facebook, taking on almost another angle because I did suggest to her that she could be a hockey player and she told me that girls didn’t play hockey. Here in Colorado there are very few girl’s hockey teams. Where I grew up, in Minnesota, it’s the norm. So I took that as a learning opportunity to tell her that there are plenty of women in sports, and if she wanted to be an athlete when she grows up, no one can tell her no. But the post took on a life of itself on Facebook and reinforced the fact that I was ok in telling her she could go against what her teacher said. Here are some of the comments, all of which I agree with.
Now, do I expect that my daughter is going to grow up and continue to want to be a princess? No way. But she’s 5. And she’s met the princesses at Disneyland, so to her they are real.
This then became a wonderful teachable moment. We had a sit down talk where I explained that there are princesses, but they are mostly in Europe. I explained the role of a princess to her, and told her about Princess Kate and Princess Diana and the community outreach they have done, not only in England, but all over. I explained that princesses rarely go to balls, and they don’t necessarily live in castles. I told her the story of Grace Kelly, and how a girl from the United States married a prince.
And then we talked about Merida, the newest Disney princess, and about how she stood up for herself and took chances, and didn’t need to depend on someone to do things for her or to save her. She wrote her own story. She may not be real, but she is a character that young girls can look up to and emulate. Minus the whole mom-is-a-bear thing.
There are going to be plenty of years for her to learn about powerful women in history. And how to become a strong, independent woman who sets goals and goes out and achieves them. But she’s 5. And she dreams like a 5-year-old and her world is seen through 5-year-old eyes. And she will only be 5 for a short time.