I live with a two-year-old, who, more often than not, is wearing a princess dress over her clothes. She only has two of them (Snow White and Sleeping Beauty) and they are both falling apart at the seams from constant wear. She has a princess stepstool, princess dolls, princess books and most of the Disney princess movies.
I became aware of this “anti-princess” movement a few months before Avery’s infatuation began. I read complaints that the princesses teach little girls that their looks are all that matters and that they should wait for a prince to come rescue them. Some critics even say that the princesses discourage girls from trying hard in school. Really? One princess dress and you’re not getting into Stanford? I highly doubt that.
I’m not going to attack the anti-princess moms, because the one thing I’ve learned in almost five years of being a parent: what works for one family does not work for everyone. You have to figure out what works for you. For us, the princesses work.
I’ve gotten Avery out of the house on slow-moving mornings by allowing her to wear a princess dress over her clothes in the car. I’ve convinced her to take nap by pretending she was baby Rapunzel (from Tangled) going to sleep in her bed. She shrieked with excitement when she got new princess dolls for Christmas, thanking us repeatedly. She’s stayed in her bed at night telling stories to Merida (from Brave) and Cinderella. Even Clay has gotten in on the princess action: he loves the new Disney series, Sofia the First, almost as much as Avery does (side note: the series teaches kids to accept others, try their best, etc. – it’s great!).
The princesses have good manners. They are friendly, welcoming and seem to handle challenges (Ariel losing her voice to a witch, Merida turning her mom into a bear, etc.) well. They aren’t bad role models for my daughter, but they also aren’t her only role model. They are a fantasy, just toys and movies and fancy dresses. It’s not real life. Real life isn’t always easy, and Prince Charming doesn’t always sweep in and fix everything. I want Avery to know that, but it’s our parenting that will teach her those lessons, not her toys.
Avery’s new thing is to put on princess dresses and sing at the top of her lungs. We have video, but I won’t post it here to save everyone’s eardrums. She puts on a dress, becomes someone else and has a blast. Who wouldn’t love that?