How Not to Raise a Princess
It's hard not to trace a dotted line to the parents when you see entitled, spoiled, over-spenders on shows like Gail Vaz-Oxlade's Princess. What led these young women to prioritize monthly grooming, shopping, and entertainment to the detriment of their personal finances—or worse, to the detriment of their friends' and family's finances?
Although we're all quick to judge, nipping a princess in the bud is easier said than done. In this age of anxiety, doctors, experts, and assorted pundits point out dangers in everything parents traditionally considered a normal part of raising a confident, self-sufficient, well-adjusted girl. And, as a mother of a four-year-old girl, I can tell you this: we parents are learning along with the children!
It Starts With Pink
You have a little girl and you can't wait to swath her in all the lovingly-curated cuteness you call necessities... some of which are pink. Beware! Experts caution that pink can be the gateway drug to the princess phenomenon. The logic goes that assigning the colour pink importance reinforces the concept of "cuteness" and, in turn, the idea of visual appearance as the most important part of being a girl. From here, you're only a ballet slipper and a fairy away from full-blown princess-mania, with its heaps of dresses, tiaras, heels for four-year-olds (Suri Cruise) and other stereotypical paraphernalia; a precursor to shoes, bags, manis and pedis, and debtor's prison—the sad but all-too-common conclusion of an adult princess.
My little gal is inherently girlie and, like many, we dove head first into catering to her seemingly innocent love for ballerinas, all things pink, and, yes, princesses. But, after reading books like Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein, we admit that there is merit to princess-curbing, and have agreed to start stealthily swapping out beauty dolls for creative games, ballerina books for more imaginative stories, and pink dresses for... well, that will be hard.
The Value of Money
The other day, my husband and I took our girl to the local toy store. While waiting to check out, a woman and her young daughter ahead of us were counting out their total, dime by dime. I rolled my eyes just as the woman turned around to say, "Time to teach her the value of money!" I felt shame as I noticed my little girl skulking impatiently at the exit.
If my four-year-old is able to negotiate how many pieces of chicken vs. how many pieces of sweet potato she's willing to eat in order to qualify for dessert, she's ready to start learning about money. Experts agree that sooner is better than later. Make money apparent in everyday situations, such as shopping for clothes, groceries, and especially toys.
When my child begs for toys, we've taken to pointing out and counting together what she already has, to help her learn the difference between needs and wants. Maybe Gail's next show can be a cross between Princess and Super-Money-Savvy-Nanny?
Leading by Example
Despite how many hours your child spends playing her iPad (don't judge me), reading her fairytales, or watching that old box known as the TV, make no mistake that what she's watching most is you. Whatever expert advice you cherry pick to enlighten your parenting style, experts are unanimous on doing as you say.
Beyond simply avoiding future bad behaviour by not exhibiting it yourself, show your child how you handle situations by involving them in everyday matters of the household. My husband and I constantly remind ourselves to include our little one in family discussions. In addition to maintaining a close relationship with our child, keeping her plugged into family life helps create a natural roadmap for values, self-sufficiency, and a healthy self image.
Written by: Elana Safronsky
Watch Season 2 of Princess on Slice starting Monday, October 17 at 8pm ET and catch up on missed episodes online in the slice.ca video centre.