A Guide for Parents on How to Survive the Princess Phase!
I scoffed at the notion of buying pink outfits for my first daughter and purposefully dressed her in many gender-neutral outfits. Then somewhere around age 2.5 or 3, the "change" came. My tomboy insisted on dresses everyday, wanted to play with dolls, and started talking about Disney Princesses. I've learned that peer influence is vastly superior to motherly advice. No matter how much you may want to raise a tomboy, you might just want to prepare yourself for the princess phase (which I'm hoping will end eventually!). This guide is written with you in mind.
I'm not sure you can shield your daughter entirely from seeing the princess movies that some may find more troubling. Thus, I think having thoughtful conversations can help your daughter see beyond the limited stereotypes. For instance, I have pointed out to my daughter that just because someone is beautiful like Snow White's stepmother doesn't mean she is nice. The corollary to that is that being ugly doesn't mean you're evil, like Shrek and Princess Fiona (when she is in her ogre state).
2. Try to highlight the strong independent princesses.
It's futile to ban princesses from your home if your daughter is going to hear about it at pre-school. Thus, I decided I would try to steer her towards the smart proactive heroines like Mulan (though she technically isn't a princess) or Tiana of The Princess and the Frog. I also encouraged family to stick to these characters rather than picking up Sleeping Beauty or Snow White (princesses who sleep until their princes awaken them). There are also other books that feature strong princess heroines, like the Paper Bag Princess.
3. Cultivate good manners by appealing to her desire to be "princess-y."
A very positive attribute of most princesses is that they're polite and proper. My father-in-law picked up some books about princesses that reinforce the message that princesses always say please and thank you. While I don't regularly use that line, I have found it has a meaningful impact on her.
4. Remind yourself of all the money you're saving because of her limited wardrobe!
At one point, my eldest insisted, "Only boys wear pants!" It actually ultimately saved us money and time as she literally wore dresses year-round. Fortunately, we live in a mild climate zone so I was able to make sure she still wore leggings or even pants under the dresses. She also became very color conscious, preferring pink and purple almost to the exclusion of all other colors. The unexpected benefit is that her wardrobe was very easy to match and could have infinite combinations. Moreover, my 4aughter was a fairy princess for two Halloweens in a row so I'm glad that I saved some money by re-using elements of the costume. We used her accessories (tiara, wings, and wand) with different fancy dresses for Halloween and she also liked to play with the components year-round.
5. Carefully check the quality of princess-themed toys.
At first, I refused to buy any of the Princess-themed toys. Then my in-laws and my own parents started giving my daughter various princess-themed gifts. One would assume that Disney would carefully vet the merchandise before licensing use of their images and name. Sadly, we have had some poor quality toys of limited durability. I urge you to inspect items and not assume that a Disney Princess brand name certifies high quality. In fact, think broadly and consider searching for non-Disney branded princess items. My husband found a decent quality tiara and "princess shoe" set at our local Marshall's that still looks great 2 years later.
Two years later and there's still no end to the princess gear at my house. Nevertheless, I have gamely smiled my way through repeated requests for more princess gear. As with other phases, I remind myself that this, too, shall pass. After all, how many 18 year olds still want to be princesses, right?
Joined:Mar 10, 2000
Busy lawyer mom who probably over-researches most purchases
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