Letting My Daughter Make Her Own Choices (Even When This Makes Me Cringe)

12 comments

Last year my then 2-year-old decided to be an electrician for Halloween (like her daddy). I was over-the-moon about this! Working in the field of women’s rights, I know that girls are often steered away from non-traditional jobs/fields even though they are more likely to provide higher wages and better economic stability. So when my girl picked electrician as her choice of costume I got on board immediately. I ordered her a tool belt and construction hat and she even wore some safety glasses. She loved it and I beamed with pride thinking of my little girl bucking gender stereotypes at such a young age.

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Fast forward to this year and… she’s all about the princesses. I know this is very typical for little girls but part of me cringes at the princess play. My parents even know to not buy her princess toys because I’m just not a fan. I feel like the intense focus on princesses teaches our kids to value looks and being “pretty” above all other important characteristics. I’m trying to teach my daughter that the most important thing is to be KIND, not pretty. So I guess the princess thing just strikes a nerve.

But I’m also not going to tell her she can’t do something so this year my girl will be Belle from Beauty & the Beast (she’s never seen the movie, thanks goodness because helloooooo bad messages!). Here she is at a recent Halloween party:

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I think that everything we experience can be a teach us something about ourselves and in this case I’ve learned that sometimes I need to keep myself in check. I’ve always said that to me, feminism isn’t about what choice you make but rather having a choice. And if I truly believe that then I need to apply that definition of feminism in my parenting and be supportive of my daughter’s choices, princess costumes and all.

My strategy as of late has been to reinforce the other good qualities of Belle – that she loves to read and is very nice to others, so that my daughter doesn’t think princess play is all about just looking pretty. So while she’s free to make her own choices, I can still be here passing along the messages that I feel are important too.

12 comments on “Letting My Daughter Make Her Own Choices (Even When This Makes Me Cringe)”

  1. This is so great that you have your head up about gender roles and kids. I totally admire that about you! Before I had a daughter of my own, I hardly gave it a second thought. I still forget sometimes and just let her princess freak flag fly. And then catch myself with a cringe.
    With the way kids are, next year she will probably want to be an astronaut or a veterinarian! Letting them pretend to be whatever their imaginations paint lets them see that the possibilities are endless. That’s what this time of year is about-imagination. (I’m glad I can be there to help her indulge her inner princess! You never have to buy any of it, I have so much to share! LOL)

  2. Yes! Having the choice is the important part. I was so proud to have a son who defied gender stereotypes and didn’t go for superheros all the time. Then I had Josh, and I realized you cannot control what they like or dislike, all you can do is support their choice ❤

  3. My daughter will be one of a million Elsas this Halloween. I’m okay with that. She’s always been about the princesses, pink, fashion and glamour. My daughter makes her own choices about what she likes and dislikes, and I emphasize the good, and point out the suboptimal when it seems appropriate and not too preachy. It is a hard balance, and I fight against imposing too much of “what mommy thinks” upon her. I also have a son – he is 19 months old – and he loves all of his big sister’s sparkly accessories. He puts on her headbands, bracelets, and loves to carry around her little purses and wear her too-big, glittery shoes. That is okay, too. You just have to teach them good lessons by example (love and care for others, show kindness, be a strong, responsible person, etc.) and they will pick them up. So, I know that while my daughter loves princesses, she sees me go to work in a suit everyday, witnesses my interactions with others, and learns from it all. She knows that being a princess is “not a real job”, and she wants to design and build homes in Hawaii (fingers crossed that this occupation is a keeper). IMHO: They are going to be who they are going to be. Just “do no harm” and it will all work out.

  4. “feminism isn’t about what choice you make but rather having a choice” EXACTLY. Absolutley PERFECT description.
    (Can I just add, as a mom of two boys, I am super jealous of all the princess stuff!!)

  5. Great post from a GREAT mom. I love your definition of feminism, that the most important thing is to have choices. Our job is to simply guide our girls and lead by example while giving them the freedom to make decisions on their own.

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