Don’t Call My Daughter a Princess

No princess1prin·cess

noun \?prin(t)-s?s, ?prin-?ses, (usual British) prin-?ses\

: a female member of a royal family; especially : a daughter or granddaughter of a king or queen

: the wife of a prince

: a usually attractive girl or woman who is treated with special attention and kindness

Little girl’s clothing emblazoned with the words “Princess,” “Diva,” and/or “Queen” make me want to hurl. Don’t even get me started on tiaras. Now, before you open your e-mail to send me a nasty-gram, or get the urge to egg my house, let me explain. My delightful 15-month-old daughter is loved, provided for, and made a priority in our home; however, she is not a member of a royal family, or the wife of a prince. It is debatable as to whether she is an attractive girl who is treated with special attention and kindness. Merriam-Webster definition aside, when I think of a princess, I think of a spoiled, ego-centric girl in need of saving. My thinking is largely influenced by television shows such as: Toddlers and Tiaras, Bridezillas, and My Super Sweet Sixteen. Most Disney movies don’t help the princess image either (e.g. Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, etc.) While there are some newer Disney princesses who fight for themselves, and work to solve their own dilemmas (e.g. Mulan, Merida, and Tiana), princesses are still by and large, beautiful girls/women in need of saving.

For those of you who are more visual, a few “princess” videos for you..

While being a princess sounds wonderful (beautiful, well cared for, and “saved” in sticky situations), it is not realistic. For most of us, the universe does not provide, on a continual basis, lavish gifts, attention, and assistance in times of need. I don’t want P to expect to get everything she wants; Chad and I hope to raise her to be thankful for getting the things she needs. We also don’t want P to think we are going to bail her out of every sticky situation she finds herself in. As much as we want to shield P from anxiety, pain, and upsets, we would be doing her no favors by failing to provide her opportunities to fall down, pick herself up, and move on. I will not be the parent making calls to P’s future teachers, begging them to let her re-take a test; I am trying not to be the kind of parent who rushes in with a band-aid and Bactine at the sight of a skinned knee. To some, that may sound unkind, but we simply want P to develop the skills to begin to advocate and/or care for herself, because when it comes down to it, you can’t always rely on others, but you can always rely on yourself.  We want P to be prepared for the harsh realities the world may thrust upon her. We want her to be confident in the knowledge and skills she has, so that when a problem does arise, she can attempt to tackle it herself, before she asks others for help. Finally, we hope that P does not become pre-occupied with her appearance. With all of the images in the media, this will surely present a challenge, but we think we’re up for it. We hope that as she grows, P relies on her intellect, curiosity, and kindness to navigate life, rather than her appearance. While there is no denyin’ P’s cuteness, it will only get her so far, and we hope she’ll put more energy into developing her mental/internal traits.

Now, while these are our plans, we know that our 15-month-old, rough-and-tumble tot could very well become a princess-loving, tiara-wearing, three-year-old. I’m told most toddler girls go through a “princess” stage. If this turns out to be the case, Chad and I will rent Mulan and Princess and the Frog, and hope for the best.

20 thoughts on “Don’t Call My Daughter a Princess

  1. I am in total agreement with you, Kristi! I inwardly cringe when I hear someone call my daughters “princess.” The other day my oldest (age 3) told me she wants to be a princess when she grows up. Her friend at day care is princess-obsessed so she hears about them often. I chose to have no reaction at all to this in hopes that it will be a short lived phase! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only mama who feels this way!

    1. Thanks for reading! I’m glad there is someone who can relate as well. So many parents are into the princess stuff, so to openly buck the trend, and actually shy away from it, can be anxiety-provoking. I think you’re on to something with not sweating your daughter’s interest in princesses. Before you know it, she’ll probably be into something new. 🙂

  2. Sandy Smith says:

    Personally I think you are making way too big of an issue about princesses. My daughter never wanted to be a princess, she preferred dinosaurs. Not because we never allowed princess in our house; we had dressup gowns, princess barbies and tiaras; but because she loved dinosaurs. She also liked to watch Mulan even though we owed all the princess movies. Now that she is older she is a quiet bookworm who loves peace signs and is very independent. Her best buds are mainly boys. It is the values you instill in your children and their own personalities that guide them, not whether or not you banish princesses. Teach your daughter that is OK to be her own unique self, she will find her path. And if it lined with princesses and pink tulle, so be it.

    1. Sandy, thank you for taking the time to read this piece. I completely agree with you that it is the values you instill in your children and their personalities that determine who they become.My husband and I are more concerned with preventing P from developing a certain “princess” attitude (e.g. entitled, image-obsessed, helpless); we aren’t as much concerned about her dressing like a princess. We haven’t “banned” princess garb, but we are not going out of our way to make tiaras, gowns, tutus, etc. readily available either. At 15 months, P plays with sticks and dishes more than any toys, anyway. If the day comes that she wants to be a princess, we’ll round up the most princess-y type things we have in our home, and let her go at it. We prefer a more gender-neutral parenting approach.

    2. Kristine Hannah says:

      I totally agree. This whole princess issue is getting too out of hand. How bout just teach your kid to stop being a brat? Also, some girls are named Princess. Should you tell them to change their names too? Maybe we should stop telling people what to do and focus on raising kind human beings. This is ridiculous.

  3. Cara Green says:

    omg i want throw up when i hear people say princess, i got called it as a 36 year old woman by my 50 + year old male neighbour, i don’t care if he thought he was making a nice compliment, i just felt like he was a creep! ewww. so condescending. my dad nor grandads never called me it even when i was a kid. My husband never called our daughter it either but we have other common, more apt, pet names for our kids. And then later in the week i saw another neighbour ,again male in his 60’s call a little girl cycling on her bike, passing by, ” hello princess!” ewwwwwww she just kept cycling. so he wasn’t even related! To me it just screams creepy!

  4. While I cringe at the word sometimes myself because I think of the ‘pampered’ little girls that are spoiled rotten to the core, one should ask… what about the characters like Xena: Warrior Princess?

    Plus I like to think of a real princess being young women who assume great responsibility for people that depend on them. That’s what I would try to instill anyway. True Kings and Queens are dutiful, not lazy and glutenous.

  5. I hate the word princess and agree with this piece … my in laws are always calling my four month old “our little princess” and it takes every bit of me to not scream … they also buy her pink sparkly clothes and my husband and i dont want to push that on her if she comes to us and says mommy i want to be a princess fine but how do i deal with the in laws cause i dont want them pushing it on her

  6. I am so glad I found this. My Inlaws have also been obsessed with calling her “princess”. Glad I’m not the only one that wants to scream every time I hear it. And I completely agree with the emphasis isn’t so much against Disney princesses, but against the princess mentality. I love belle, Cinderella and Ariel as much as the next person. But to me, calling her a princess is just as bad as calling her “diva.”
    I nonchalantly mentioned that we weren’t doing anything princess related in her room or clothing… And guess what? The theme of our baby shower was “welcoming our little princess” lol, so now I have tons of “I’m a princess” onesies thanks to my mother in law.
    I will probably still make her some tutus, and we will probably still own a few Disney princess outfits. But you better believe we will also own doctor, lawyer, cowgirl, nurse..etc outfits as well.

  7. The princess junk, and all the other media garbage that is pushed on girls and women made me miserable when I found out we were having a girl. Thank God my husband is on board with me, that we’re not royalty and we’re NOT raising a princess! He plans to teach her to help him build and fix things, and we will teach her to enjoy all the many fascinating adventures in life that await those with a mind rich in curiosity, to appreciate life and the world around us.

  8. David Hampton says:

    This article assumes the causation of two unrelated concurrent things. Calling your daughter a princess does not make them a stuck up pricy pants. The way the mothers phrased these things like “my princess doesn’t wear jeans” certainly in this scenario would appear give that perception, but the word is not the cause.

    To call a little girl a princess is similar to calling her precious. It’s a sign of affection, and gesture of love and adoration. All good things.

    I call my daughter all kinds of silly things including but not limited to: “babe, babo, precious, pumpkin, pudding, dumpling, snickerdoodle, honeybun, cupcake, sweetie, pumpkinhead, ect” and the list goes on and on. She isn’t any of these things literally either. She is also humble an appreciative, wears holes in her stalking, picks up bugs, and roles around in the dirt.

    I will call my daughter these things no matter hold old me and her are until the day I die, because she will never stop being the apple of my eye. Dear World, please don’t stop calling your children cute nicknames… ever. And for that matter, don’t stop calling your spouse’s them either. Every time anyone has ever called me some dumb cute nickname, I was happy, I felt loved, and I smiled, so please, spread the love instead.

  9. For me, pretend Princess and princess clothes and tiara’s are all part of Make Believe pretend play. If you truly are not part of royalty, than my daughter will never be a true princess. So why take that part of pretend play out of her life. No one in this post ever mentioned the other side with boys. Boys play super hero, wear capes and masks and dart around the house to fight crime and get the “bad guys”. A house with a boy I can guarantee is filled with at least one of these…Spiderman, Batman, Darth Vadar, light Sabars, Luke Skywalker, Xmen, Cowboy, Ninja..etc. All of that is perfectly normal and for me, should not be taken out of our house as that too is pretend play. My daughter dressed up in Darth Vadars mask and wore a princess dress. She was Princess Vadar. For her birthday, she had a Barbisaurus Birthday because she couldn’t decide on a Barbie Birthday or a Dinosaur. That one Character..Princess.. in my daughters life is not going to make her who she becomes. There are soooo many other things in her life that will guide her to be who she becomes. Things like home values, friendships, family relations, outside play, being a good example, setting boundaries, love. All of this plus other things will help in raising a self-confident, independent, caring, helping others, kind of girl. And I truly feel that wearing a Tiarra is not going to stop that from happening. If a daughter ends up becoming a spoiled, self centered, low self-esteemed, low confident, dependent on others type of girl, then there was much more going on in her childhood and the way she was brought up than just wearing a Cinderella dress and a Tiarra. So in this household, we bring on the Tiaras, the capes and Darth Vadar masks, the wands, the light sabars and the dresses. Let the fun and Make Believe begin!!!

  10. Prince Ogidan says:

    My daughter is a real princess (her non-English name gives it away for those that understand the meaning) as I am a legitimate heir to the throne. Although such roles are now more ceremonial than governmental, there is still a huge amount of affluence, power reputation and influence. That different definitions have been given to the word princess does not make it derogatory. Someone at work was fed up that his flash drive won’t work after trying it in all the (USB) ports – literally . Yet someone had the dirty mind to think and make something sexual out of it – that’s the wretched/dirty-minded world we live in. The urban dictionary’s got a derogatory definition to almost every English word – English language itself would soon be extinct? The problem with media and blogs however is that they carry a power they perhaps do not know – my wife is now displeased whenever my daughter is called the true princess that she is after reading blogs like this. And for those that are pretend princesses, why not? You are what you aspire and there is power in the tongue – well said Carolyn. The world will be a better place if adults let children be children and not spoil their fun with their over-thinking and meant-to-be intelligible thinking. Go-ahead and be a princess, warrior, superhero, etc: OWN YOUR LIFE & IMAGINATION!

  11. If you want to see what’s wrong with the word read the dribble above.

  12. Plutogirl says:

    I want to be a princess when I grow up, and I was born in 1965.

  13. I never took any notice of such words directed at people “Princess”. I just took it as someone being positive, although it can be used in a negative light as well. However, I do know people that behave and act like a Princess in a negative way, as they use other people’s money and pay for everything instead of doing it themselves, which includes the most menial of tasks. It was ingrained into me as a young girl that a life of a royal princess, wasn’t all Castles, fancy dresses, riches, the handsome prince, titles and travel. Their was a really unpleasant negative side my Dad (Irish/English/Scottish ancestry) made me be aware of, which was a life full of protocol and procedures that have to be obeyed. special occasions that must be organised/attended, a household to run, speeches, Someone telling you how you should: Behave (etiquette) , what to wear, what not to wear, How to speak (Linguistics), where to go, what to eat, how you should eat, where to live, your religious choices, your career/job, Permission/requests. Literally, your life is not your own it belongs to the royal family and it’s people. Then further more, you have body guards following you around or worse have to have a micro chip like prince William; then their is the media chasing you around, magazines and TV doing overkill advertising on your life and every single movement you make (no privacy) and finally all the critics. I was made full aware of my cultural identity, especially my own royal families lifestyle and how difficult it must be for them, especially those who are related and friends to them. From, I don’t want to be a Princess nor anyone of my family either.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mom used to call me “princess”, among many others. I didn’t grow up to be a spoiled brat. I didn’t grow up to be a damsel in distress who needs a knight in a shining armor to save her from the monsters. My mom taught me that a princess has responsibilities as well, along the pretty dresses and hairdos. The irony of it is as an adult, I don’t like dresses and I hate doing my hair in all those fancy styles.
    But the thing is, a child will have the mentality you instill into them. If you call your kid a prince or princess while serving everything they want on a silver platter without reinforcing values and duties into them as well, best believe they’ll grow up to be brats. If you don’t teach them to stand up for themselves, they’ll never be able to do that, unless life teaches them those lessons.
    My mama is a lion queen. And I’m her princess. If I’d have a kid, and my kid would be into fairytales, princesses/ princes, then that kid would be my princess/ prince for as long as they’d want to be. Because I’m the mama queen and they’re my baby. But that kid would learn about duties and values, working for what you want and helping those around you.
    In the defense of a “princess”, Queen Elizabeth got involved in the war when she was still a princess. She got to marry the one she loved, not the one her parents wanted her to marry. When you allow your child to have choices or the child learns on their own that they DO have choices, they become empowered. There’s nothing wrong with being a little prince/ princess. It’s the education that really matters, whether you’re a royal or a homeless John Doe down the street, who’s yelling drunk at anyone who passes by and won’t hand them a penny or two.
    Have a good day.

  15. What you’re saying is don’t allow little girls to dress up and pretend they are a princess, and never tell them they are beautiful or pretty, However, it’s okay for a little boy to dress up say he’s a princess, play with dolls, say he’s a beautiful pretty princess, but it’s not okay for biological girls.

    There are a lot of little girls out there who hate themselves for various reasons such as a black 3 year old child who thinks she’s ugly because of the color of her skin, but according to you we must not tell her that she’s pretty, or that her brown skin is pretty, or pretend to be a beautiful princess. Yet, it’s okay for a boy, sounds misogynistic.

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