If I hear one more mother calling her daughter her “princess” or “pretty little princess” I’m going to run out into the street naked and SCREAMING! It has always been a pet peeve of mine, but now it just makes my skin crawl! I hear more and more women in public refer to their daughters as “princess”. “You’re not behaving as mommy’s little princess when you scream like that”, says a mother to her young daughter as she is in full-on tantrum-mode! As per Merriam-Webster, the definition of “princess” is this:
: 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
archaic : a woman having sovereign power
: a female member of a royal family; especially : a daughter or granddaughter of a sovereign
: one likened to a princess; especially : a woman of high rank or of high standing in her class or profession <a pop music princess>
So, no matter how you use the word for a female, you are honoring her upgraded status from her peers. Girls learn the meaning of the word “princess” at a young age, thanks to fairy tales and Disney movies. While there is nothing wrong with fairy tales and Disney movies (I for one, am a big fan), I think it’s very dangerous to continue to use the term because they start to believe it. Young girls know that a princess (with the exception of Cinderella), don’t clean their rooms, help with chores around the house, don’t scrub toilets, don’t flip burgers or wait tables (heaven forbid someone they know should see them!). They grow up being catered to,coddled, and with a screwed up sense of reality. Instead of growing up and being pro-active with goals and dreams, they wait for “their prince to come” or nowdays…waiting to become someone’s trophy wife. Yeah, they grow up to be about as deep as a kiddie pool or a Kardashian.
Now, history has shown us that being a real princess is not always what it is cracked up to be. Exhibit 1: Grace Kelly (Princess Grace of Monaco)
Grace Kelly was an Academy Award winning actress when she married Prince Rainier III, of Monaco. As a youngster she was a high achiever, always trying to gain her father’s approval. When he failed to be impressed with her Oscar, she married a Prince! That did impress her father! Unfortunately for Grace, once she became a Princess, she had to give up a big part of herself…she wasn’t allowed to act again, although she did do public poetry readings for charity. She spent the rest of her life with a husband who didn’t understand her and wayward children that were a result of a very privileged lifestyle.
Exhibit 2: Diana Spencer (Princess Diana of Wales)
Poor Diana! I don’t know anyone who would have wanted to trade places with her after Andrew Morton’s book, “Diana, Her True Story” came out. And of course, there was how her life ended. She was so young and emotionally ill-equipped to handle what was to come when she became engaged to Prince Charles. Who could blame her? She was 19 and came from a broken home…of course she wanted a fairy tale. There is an account in Mr. Morton’s book about Diana having second thoughts about marrying Prince Charles because she knew about his ongoing relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles and she was uncomfortable with the media attention. One of her older sisters told her, “You can’t back out now…your face is on tea towels and teacups!”.
But, there is one modern-day Princess who seems to be doing all right. If you have to admire and emulate any princess, The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, seems to have a handle on things. It does help that she had ten years to get use to the media attention and had time to learn how to handle it. She is also lucky that her Prince seems to be very aware of the challenges and very protective of her. She is an elegant example of “grace under pressure” and just seems to have a good head on her shoulders. She’s a great example of how to dress and behave like a lady. I also get the feeling she wouldn’t be put off if she had to clean a toilett! I think her staff would be more put off, but I don’t think she would have any problems getting her hands dirty if she needed to. That’s just the impression I get of her.
So, tell your daughters (and sons) that you love them. Tell them they are smart. Tell them that they are beautiful/handsome. Tell them that they are talented. Tell them that they are kind and helpful…and then give them opportunities to prove you right! Terms of endearment are fine, they can be your “love-bugs”, “cuddle-bugs”, “crumb-cakes”…whatever. Just be cautious that you don’t elevate them to a status where they expect life to hand things to them instead of working for them. Make sure that you teach them that a tantrum is not the appropriate way to get the things you want and that “work” is not a 4-letter word to be avoided. And… if for no other reason… DON’T refer to your daughter as your “princess” because you really want to avoid me running into the street naked and SCREAMING at all costs!!
Here is a perfect example of someone who was brought up as “mommy’s little princess”: