When my daughter was born, she was immediately given the nickname “The Pretty Pink Princess.” Over time, her nickname has just been shortened to “Princess” (as she is known in the NPN world). This has raised some eyebrows among the AP/NP crowd, as many parents do not want their daughters to focus on princesses and the stereotypical “I am waiting for my Prince Charming to save me” attitude. Why would someone who practices AP and NP and is a feminist call her daughter a princess?
My Princess came upon her nickname naturally. She is the second grandchild and first granddaughter. She was (and still is) the princess of the house, but we also called her older brother “the Handsome Prince.” Naturally, as more and more boys joined our immediate and extended family, she remained the princess, the only girl surrounded by the princes.
Her nickname also stems from a long standing but good natured feud my sister and I have. We both have favorite Disney Princesses, and we joke that we will try and convince the girls in our family which princess is “the best.” My sister worked long and hard to convince the Princess that Cinderella is the best, leading to several shirts, jammies and even a toy box with Cinderella dancing across the front. Inside family jokes and stories such as this are the things children remember for years and can create a special bond across generations. I certainly don’t mind this bonding . . . as long as the Princess knows that Belle is really the best princess!
We call our daughter “princess,” but that doesn’t mean she acts like one!
Or does she?
When I think of princesses in the broad spectrum of the world, not just the little corner Disney has, I remember that a princess is often someone worthy of love and protection, but she is also someone (as history has shown us) who can frequently hold her own through turbulent times and be strong. As Catholics, we teach our children about saints, and many of them were queens or princesses – educated people who dedicated their lives to worthy causes, such as helping the less fortunate. In other words, they certainly didn’t wait for a prince to rescue them. We often talk about historical and modern royalty and how they used their positions for good. In short, her knowledge of who a princess is and what she does extends beyond popular cartoons on DVD cases.
But people want to know, aren’t you teaching her to act like a princess by calling her one? They often mean, “Are you teaching her to think she is better than everyone else? Are you teaching her that she has to be rescued by a handsome prince to have a great life?” No and NO! As with all our children, we teach our daughter the difference between fantasy and reality. In reality, chipmunks don’t help you clean the house, forest animals don’t dance, and it’s kinda weird for a strange man to kiss you while you’re asleep. That’s movie stuff, not real life.
In reality, we talk about how princesses use their position in life to help others. Using the examples cited above, we talk about how we can help others. My daughter helps out with the NICU Thanksgiving and is learning to crochet hats for babies who are in the hospital. She is nice, kind and helpful to others. She’s a fantastic big sister. In those ways, yes, she acts exactly how a princess should act.
Yet in spite of her nickname, the Princess isn’t focused on princesses. She likes them, but she also plays with dolls, rides her scooter and is learning to crochet. She knows she is the princess in our lives, but she certainly doesn’t act like a stereotypical spoiled princess. Instead she is a normal, healthy, active . . . Princess.