Thursday, March 15, 2012
Have you seen those new parenting books Cinderella Ate my Daughter and Princess Recovery? Me too. But I didn’t think we needed them. Miss E has never been into pink, tutu’s or Disney princesses. At Disneyland last year she had no interested in “meeting” the princesses or anything else. She cares about her clothes but she definitely has her own style and it’s not conventional. I should have known better though, because there have been signs. Lots more hair brushing than normal, dressing in sparkly shoes for bedtime, and suddenly commenting on how “ugly” she looks in pictures and an obsession with weddings.
Last night she asked to look at a few photo albums during her free reading time. I gave her a few and the third one was our wedding album. After commenting on how pretty I looked, how young we looked (thanks lady). She asked where we lived, to which I replied that I didn’t remember (yes, my memory is that bad). Then she said “no, where did you live after you got married” and I said “the same house we lived in before we got married” to which she replied in a shocked voice “you LIVED TOGETHER before you got married”?
Can I interject with a WTF people here? Seriously. We are a household that barely believes in long-term marriage itself. We are pro-gay marriage, divorce, contraception, and abortion – basically about as liberal as they come. We don’t go to church - never have. We believe whole heartedly in living with someone before you marry them – IF you marry them. So then, where oh where is she getting the information that you shouldn’t live together before marriage? 1st grade? Who’s talking about that there? This is one of the unanticipated things that I’m finding so frustrating about parenting. Not only do I have to worry about teaching our values and our morals to her, but also how to UNDO what she has apparently been taught by the media and others. And undo it in a way that encourages her to be respectful and considerate of others life-views.
After her comment I explained that of course we lived together before we got married – for 7 years no less and that all couples should do that. Then she seemed shocked and asked if she was supposed to move in with a stranger. At this point in my head I’m thinking “Crap. It’s 8 pm and now we are knee deep in a subject I was no prepared to wade into tonight and really, I just want to turn out her light and get the laundry folded”. But I sat and explained that no, you don’t just move in with a stranger, that you get to know them and love them and then you move in together.
All this time I thought we were happily trundling along, not needing to explain marriage or romantic love or anything like that yet – she is 7 after all – and really I was just giving the media and our culture time to fill her head. Somehow she filled her knowledge gap in this area with the princess idea – pretty girl meets good-looking boy, they are both princes/princesses, big fancy wedding, living in a castle.
Fortunately, Miss E is a practical girl and a smart girl and she knows who she is. I don’t believe she will be eaten by Cinderella for too long. It’s a fine line though isn’t it? You want girls to be comfortable wanting to be pretty, fix their hair, experiment with clothes, wear make-up if they want. But you don’t want them to define themselves by how they look. You want them to have relationships with boys (or girls if they are so inclined) that are fulfilling and loving without defining themselves by that either. Come to think of it, there are many adult women who have yet to find the balance in those areas. I guess all we can do is keep talking, keep listening and carry on.
Princess recovery – here we come!~