5 Ways to Indulge Your Child’s Princess Obsession While Still Raising a Little Feminist
If you have a daughter under the age of 7, there’s a good chance she has gone, or is now going through, an obsession with all things princess.
Particularly if you’re raising your daughter to embrace her girl power, you may be worried a bit about this obsession. Can princesses really be role models for what it means to be a strong, well-rounded person?
Honestly, as the parent of two boys, I’m a little relieved that I haven’t had to deal with this issue directly.
5 Ways to Raise a little feminist while embracing your child’s princess obsession
You probably already know that actively try to discourage a child from being interested in something will backfire in most cases. You can, however, help shape your child’s understanding of who princesses are and what they’re all about.
Here are my suggestions:
1. Look for stories of princesses who are known for their brains and skills
One of my favorite princess stories is Dara’s Clever Trap: A Story from Cambodia. Dara’s, an architect and engineer, exudes intelligence and even cunning when necessary.
Unlike many stories which culminate with the marriage of the princess, Dara and her husband Rith wed in the first chapter of the book. It’s clear that finding Prince Charming is not the main focus of the story.
When Dara goes on a trip to search for white stones she needs to build a beautiful palace for her father, her husband falls victim to a scheme. The king’s wicked ministers convince the king that Rith plans to overthrow him. Rith is quickly sent into exile.
When Dara returns, she naturally sheds some tears. Then she realizes she must quickly get to work if she is to save her husband. The engineering princess quickly plans her own trap for the wicked ministers.
2. Fill your daughter’s bookshelf with diverse princess stories from around the globe
One of the best ways to help your daughter realize that royalty and beauty come in all skin tones, sizes and personalities is to share tales of princesses from global folktales. For example, Cinderella stories from dozens of cultures for centuries.
Both the artwork and stories in The Barefoot Book of Princesses take children on a global journey. I’m especially fond of the tale “The Horned Snake’s Wife” from the Iroquois people.
The chief’s daughter marries a handsome stranger who soon takes her far from her family. She realizes her husband is actually a snake disguised in human form. She must use her wits and bravery to escape his control before she also becomes a snake.
3. Embrace the less obvious reasons your daughter may be drawn to princesses
Perhaps your child is drawn to princesses because she’s been bombarded with pink, filly marketing for years.
Perhaps she’s also drawn to princesses because they are powerful!
As Tessa Strickland, editor-in-chief of Barefoot Books, has said: “The princess archetype isn’t about material privilege or status. It’s about self-esteem and personal power.”
Of course, we also want girls and boys to know that there are many powerful women and girls who are not princesses! Look for stories with heroines your children can embrace even if they’ve never worn a crown.
Need ideas? Follow my Diverse Children’s Books board on Pinterest for books with mighty girls and heroines and heroes of all ethnicities.
4. Find the original fairytales that are behind the Disney versions
The original versions of fairytales can often be jarring to our modern sensibilities. Some are downright scary.
But as Melissa Taylor points out, reading the original fairytales might help your child “discover princesses who aren’t all dressed in the requisite pink, blue, or yellow. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even find that you like troll princesses better than Cinderella.”
5. Experiment with different endings other than “Happily Ever After”
There will be times when fairytales have an ending you don’t care for. Maybe you’ve had to see one too many movie or read one too many book where happily ever after equaled marriage.
If that’s the case, why not act out the fairytale together with your children? Ask them if they can think of another way to end the story. Then talk about which ending each of you likes best and why.
You could also ask your daughter what she thinks happens in the story after it has officially ended. What might the princess’s next adventure be?
Do you have a child who’s obsessed with princesses? How do you handle it? Share in the comments!