Welcome! Get the information you need to win at parenting without losing yourself.
January 25, 2018
Apparently, there is a shimmering mermaid living in my house. She sings “We Are The Daughters of Triton” at the top of her lungs. She pretends to scatter shells for the merfolk in her kingdom on the pool steps while we’re on vacation. And she even picked out a blue mermaid swimsuit, complete with scales and a jeweled neckline, for our trip to Hawaii. Raising daughters is always an adventure (for help with the hard parts, click here for a free guide to toddler tantrums).
When my daughter is not playing sea kingdom, she is almost always in full princess gear. We do have a rule that no costumes are allowed for school, music class or soccer (it’s just too distracting) but, otherwise, it’s on. To say she is usually in pink or purple or some other variation on that theme would be a huge understatement- the girl lives for girlie.
And, of course, you know how it goes- once the word gets out that there’s a girl interested in princess stuff in the house, all future gifts from every relative and friend tend to fit that theme. At least I think that’s how I ended up with 20 dress-up costumes hanging neatly in my playroom. My little royal wants to wear her crown and necklace whether we’re headed to Target or to the airport- it doesn’t really matter the destination.
The other day, at the coffee shop in a full-on Snow White outfit my eldest picked out herself, I watched the reactions of two patrons toward her. One rolled her eyes and snarked, the other grinned and gave me a knowing wink. I get the gut response of both onlookers: the desire to not let our daughters’ accomplishments stop at being saved by Prince Charming, the fact that kids have minds of their own and often have a very specific wardrobe plan from the moment they wake up, the reality that most parents learn to roll with it sooner or later. They clearly haven’t raised daughters.
But there is a limit. When I think about how far is too far when it comes to the whole princess thing, it really boils down to one thing. What is my child learning as she plays? My goal (the same goal I would have if my house was filled with all boys) is to support and encourage my children to fall in love with learning and to embrace imaginative play. And that means encouraging them to fall in love with learning whatever THEY are the most excited about. If they’re into superheroes, awesome. Explorers? Sweet. Math and science? Works for me. Far be it from me to make decisions for my littles as to who they will get excited about imagining themselves to be.
It’s going take more than an outfit choice to determine my kids’ futures. I feel confident I’m still leading them down a path of empowerment. That’s because, while I’m easy on the wardrobe choices, I’m a stickler when it comes to these things:
Our favorite books right now are Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer. I also love Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and the series Ordinary People Change The World– kid-friendly, inspiring true stories of male and female heroes who fight against all odds (and stereotypes) to accomplish their dreams. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses is my all-time favorite, super silly book about caring more about choosing your own path than about fitting onto someone else’s.
Chefs, photographers, lawyers, doctors, artists- I make sure my kids see that being successful means you love what you do and choose the profession that makes you satisfied- not the one that satisfies someone else’s expectations of you.
When we come across those books or shows, we try to talk through the gender roles that come up and we (usually in a silly way) question the assumptions those shows make. I remember listening to my husband read my eldest a bedtime story about Rapunzel last year, shifting the narrative slyly for her. “So why do you think The Prince wanted to go see Rapunzel? I think it’s cause she is SO good at Algebra- he thinks that’s really neat.” He probably knew I could hear him downstairs but, hey, I’ll take it!
Of course, I love my little girl’s girlfriends, but we mix it up. Diversity in gender, in ethnicity, in religion, in family make-up- the more my girls can appreciate the preferences and rituals of others, the better they can define their own as they mature. In the same vein, we talk about and demonstrate shared household and work responsibilities between my husband and I. My daughter knows I work full-time and run a website. “Mommy, how many visitors did you get this week?” She asks me all the time, then gives me a huge high-five as I tell her, “We’re killin’ it!”
It’s going to take way more than some pink gowns and a pair of fairy wings to pigeon-hole my babies. I’m focusing less on their chosen attire and more on their overall exposure and my overall messaging. I know they’ll end up whoever they’re supposed to be – princess, pirate or both.
Are you a modern mommy who wants self-care and parenting help? Check out our free self-care guide here.
AND visit our shop for sweet gifts for moms-to-be and new moms!
Sign up to receive the Modern Mommy Doc Newsletter. You'll receive exclusive tips and updates that will help you become a well-equipped parent:
Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.