It can be difficult to cope when it seems that our children are growing up too soon. Parents often have a love-hate relationship with much of the media when it comes to their children. Especially their daughters. There's the obvious sexualization of women and girls in music videos, magazines, internet games and advertisements, but what about old standbys like stories of the helpless princess? The "idyllic" female, fully equipped with impossibly thin waist, dressed in frills, pink, or even sexy costumes and of course, waiting for her prince, is enough to make even old favorites get on our nerves. We used to love them as children, but as parents, we often have a new perspective. Parents are citing incidents when their daughters actually emulate these 2-dimensional characters-- and not in good ways.
One parent told me of her frustration: "For a while when she would put on a nightgown with a stretchy neck, she'd pull it off one shoulder and walk around with her head tilted towards that shoulder. And look right at us while batting her eyelashes. I would promptly ask her to: --"Cover your shoulder, girls don't dress like that.
" --"So and so Princess does." --"You're not So and so Princess." It can be infuriating to raise girls when media keeps telling them that they need to look a certain way in order to get attention. The princess enterprise isn't going anywhere, and it's certainly something that many parents must deal with everyday.
Fed up? Here's some things you can do: - Ask her about them: What does she say that she liked about the princesses? You may be surprised. There are always things we like and dislike about friends and other people in our lives' but we don't shut them out even if we don't agree with them. It may be that what she likes about them could be something that like about them too. - Go Positive: Take a character-based approach and build from the positive side. Find something that you like about those princesses' do they have determination and go after something they really want? Do they have goals and dreams? Do they have nice singing voices? Do they show that they're good friends to their friends? Are they kind? Grateful? Giving? Start focusing on the positive. Praise what you like.
- Cite the Negative: You can also be very straightforward about what you don't like about them so that your daughter is clear about your values. In the spirit of "honesty" month, be clear yet age appropriate. Is it their style of dress? Their choices? Their "pinkness?" We want our daughters to get out of the habit of thinking that girls can only look, act, and be one way.
Keep it simple but let them know what bothers you about what you're seeing. - Model What You Want to See: Your example is stronger than any 2-dimensional character could ever be. Show your daughters what you think is beautiful in a woman—such as, determination, strength of character, and open-mind and respect for others. - Expose Her to Fabulous 3-D Role Models: Have some great friends or local heroes that really show your daughter what a girl can become? Allow your daughter to have "tea" or lunch with them. The more we can expose our girls to powerful, positive women and teens, the more they will see that reality is much better than fantasy.
- Get Her Into A Positive Activity: Challenge the stereotypes and ensure that your daughter is involved in activities that isn't all pink and frills. Choose sports that make her feel powerful. Perhaps a martial arts, power tumbling or modern dance class would bring out a different side of her.
Ensure that the program teaches both physical and character development in order to make sure that she learns to thrive from the inside out. If she knows what you like and what you don't like, is challenging the stereotypes, and is exposed to powerful, positive women, you might be surprised the next time you here her talk about those princesses. She may just say something like "I like that she's good to her friends but she doesn't always make the best choices.".
Expert in child and teen development, Dr. Robyn Silverman provides easy-to-follow tips for parents, educators and coaches. A professional speaker and coach, she's been featured on the national radio show with Dr. Drew Pinsky. Her tips have also been posted on her popular Powerful Parent Blog as well as in Prevention and Parents Magazines, and the Washington Post. For more information on Dr. Robyn, visit her at http://www.DrRobynSilverman.com