Princess-Free Zones & Fundamentalist Parenting

Muddy TwinsMy twins love playing Princess dress-up. They also love playing in the mud, playing with their brothers' Legos, counting beads, stacking Tupperware, collecting rocks, throwing said rock collection in the pool, baking, wrestling, making "art sculptures" out of pool toys, painting, bike riding, peeing in the bushes, playing soccer, eating donuts, eating tomatoes, playing hide-n-go-seek and playing Let's Get Married. Now that I think of it, they play Let's Get Married at least once a week. I might need to create a Marriage-Free Zone. You know, because I don't want them growing up thinking MARRIAGE is THE ONLY option they have as girls. *wink*

Look, I just can't get worked up about this new trend in enlightened parenting; aka. Banning Princesses. I just don't see the reason for getting all fundamentalist about it.

If a little girl is an entitled, spoiled brat with a raging case of Princess Virus, it has little to do with pink tulle and tiaras. But it has everything to do with spoiling the child.

Here's where I confess I've also purchased Barbies for my daughters. GASP. GAG. BURN ME AT THE FEMINIST STAKE.

Still, I understand the concern: conscientious parents don't want to raise helpless little princesses who naively believe Prince Charming will ride up on his silver steed and whisk them away to a Happily Ever After. I get it. We want daughters with pluck, tenacity and courage.

But Banning Princesses isn't the way to accomplish this. By banning princesses altogether, parents unwittingly create a greater desire for it. There is nothing more delectable than forbidden fruit.

I'm not denying our society is experiencing a glut of spoiled, entitled kids. But I am saying it's tempting to look for an easy target: ah! Cinderella! SHE'S the problem! OFF WITH HER HEAD. Oh, wait. I'm mixing my fairy-tales.

My point is, it's far more difficult to examine the ways parents spoil their kids. I'm pretty sure spoiled children existed long before Disney Princesses. And spoiled children will continue to wreak havoc on society long after Disney Princesses have bitten the (pixie) dust.

That said, there's a difference between allowing your daughter to play Disney Princess dress-up and turning her entire life into all-princess-all-the-time. You know what I'm talking about: the little girl whose bedroom looks like a Princess exploded all over the walls, curtains and bedspread. The little girl whose parents actually call her Your Royal Highness. The little girl who just can't understand why the world doesn't come running at her every beck and call? Yes, that's what we call Princess Excess.

And Princess Excess is just the other side of the Princess Banning coin.

In other words, Disney Princesses aren't bad; excess is.

Here's an idea, read The Brother's Grimm fairy-tales with their bloody-toed step sisters and eye-plucking-out-crows. And then soften the blow with Disney's Cinderella and all her adorable, singing mice and bibbity-bobbity-boo-ness.

Moderation, friends, is what good parenting is all about. At least, that's what my fairy godmother told me.