NOTE: This archive only contains Carolyn Hax columns through March 2011. Her more recent columns are located here.

Carolyn Hax: Let daughter indulge her princess fantasy

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By Carolyn Hax
Saturday, February 13, 2010

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dearest Carolyn:

My 3-year-old daughter has just been invited to a classmate's birthday party. The prickly part for me is that it is a heavily themed princess party ("bring your princess dress-up clothes!"), to be held at one of those all-inclusive sixth circle of Hell places for kids.

Aside from my personal aversion to the play/party place, our family has tried not to expose our daughter to the princess stuff. I have a very hard time with the fantasy part and the female expectations that subtly play upon girls from an increasingly early age, thanks to the media. From my position, I'd prefer not to expose my daughter to this party. My daughter would love it, no question. What do you think?

Stick in the mud

Your daughter would love it, no question. Why does it have to be more complicated than that?

Fantasy is part of childhood. Knights, dragons, superheroes, astronauts, explorers, Max in his wolf suit making mischief of one kind and another . . . and, princesses. The princess myths may traditionally offer girls more inert roles than the others -- what with all those poisonings and tower-banishings -- but time, society and the creative professions have been blasting away at that problem for decades. Please don't throw out the good exposure with the bad.

And please don't take away two hours of kiddie bliss just because it's not what you want for her during the other 22 hours of her day. Those other 22 hours x 365 x 18-21 years will have a much more lasting impression on her than a brief exposure to flashing lights and glitter.

I haven't yet heard anyone fret that a bowling party will turn girls butch or taint them with a lifelong yearning for used, color-block shoes, yet these parties produce delirious kids and over-stimulated parents just as reliably as the all-inclusive sixth circles -- so I would advise applying the same lack of significance to this.

Re: Princess party:

"Your daughter would love it, no question. Why does it have to be more complicated than that?"


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