For those of you who know us, you know we are a Disney family. Disney Jr is what is on our television if the kids are watching tv, Disney is our favorite vacation spot, and more than half of the toys strewn all over the house are Disney related. We may just be obsessed with Disney, which I think is ok.
I love the Disney princess movies, too. I grew up watching them, along with Hercules, Robin Hood, Aladdin, Toy Story, etc. We covered them all, I swear! Now it is so much fun reliving those memories and adventures with my children. In saying that, my son is my prince, and I want to raise him to be a gentleman in this world. I also want my princess daughter to be independent and strong. That sounds like opposite ends of the spectrum, especially since we live in such a Disney inspired world, but I think it can be done.
I think it can be done well.
Liam opens and holds the door for us (meaning me and his sister), but he also holds it for whoever else is coming through. I want him to know that a gentleman holds the door for anyone, not just a lady. I want him to help others, even if they may not look like they need help, it is still nice to offer. Just this morning I reminded him that he could carry the heavy canister of cereal back to the kitchen for Holdyn, not because she couldn’t carry it herself. (She certainly can carry it because she hauled it into another room, slowly but surely.) I wanted him to remember to offer to help her, especially since it was so heavy and I want him to lead by example for her. When she gets older, she will want to help others as well. She has already started excellent matters including, “thank you,” “please,” “bless you,” and “excuse me.” When we make good manners something fun and rewarding, they soak it all up! We teach them to say “I’m sorry” and we tell them “I forgive you” after they make amends. We teach them to respect people and say “yes ma’am/yes sir” and “no ma’am/no sir.” It may seem archaic to some of you, but it was the way I was raised and I believe it will take them further in life. I want them to put others first, to make sure that someone is not going unnoticed. In order to do that, we try and model that behavior ourselves as parents. (No, we are not perfect!) We also acknowledge their good behavior, their kind actions and words, and praise those moments. Another behavior we want them hold onto is speaking truths into people and about situations. Toddler-hood brings out the lying side of children by nature, so it is perfectly normal, but we make sure not to feed that innate side of things. We want our children to be able to have their word as their bond and hopefully in time it will hold true.
I remind my son when I drop him off at church or when we are walking into stores that he is to be a gentleman. At almost four, he understands what that means and he models that behavior quite well the majority of the time. He really is a prince, however his fear of the dark may impede him from slaying a dragon. That’s ok though, because his little sister is not afraid of anything. My daughter, our princess, can slay her own dragons. When I say princess, I do not mean the Disney heroine that falls asleep with one bite from an apple, or the woman who leaves her glass shoe on the staircase. To me, H is a princess because she is treasured by her parents and her brother, her entire family really, and I want her to feel that she always has someone in her corner. She is beautiful, bright, sweet, and so funny. She is my princess; I want her to embody the wonderful characteristics of the princesses: I want her to speak truth with authority, carry herself like she is regal, but still stop to smell the roses and help others along the way. I do not want her to run away and make bad decisions along the way, but rather be strong enough to ask for help and not fear whatever is ahead. She will know that she does not have to have long blond hair or be thin enough that a small panel of curtains can clothe her. She is valuable no matter how many boys chase her. She can be the perfect mix of classy yet sassy. We will empower them both to excel at their strengths, whatever they may be. Teach them they are valuable. Love them always, no matter the cost.
I am altogether thankful that we live in a Disney world. It may send them mixed signals, but we teach them to take the good with the bad and make our own adventures from it. We can find the joy in such tales, but realize they are not wholly real life. We teach our children they matter, that they belong, and that they will always be able to talk to us about what is on their minds. We teach them not to judge people by the way that they look, not to eat food from strangers, and to be kind to animals because one day they may help you clean your cottage. Well, you get the picture!