I ain’t raisin’ no princess.

Carrie-Fisher-Star-Wars-618x400What is up with dads referring to their daughters as princesses? Unless they are, in fact, the fathers of actual princesses. Those guys get a pass, but what about all the hundreds of thousands of other dads who are not royalty, yet use the term? Is this even legal?

I get that your daughter is super-special, someone you feel is precious and are loyal to. I also have a daughter (with another one on the way). I understand that feeling of protection and affection. I also feel it for my son. Yet I have never found the need to use royal terminology to describe either of them.

My daughter’s aesthetic is not very “girly.” She doesn’t like pink, or frilly. Nor is she prone to donning tiaras or succumbing to bouts of the vapours when flustered. This is not to suggest that she is a “tomboy,” because that term is misleading and sexist. I’m also not suggesting that there would be anything wrong if she was “girly” either. She’s just not.

She likes to wear her older brother’s hand-me-downs, and while this has not been actively encouraged, it is economically pleasing to me. But that’s about it. I don’t really care how she dresses, except that, like anyone, I can tell that she is conscious of the image she puts forth. I know that she feels uncomfortable wearing dresses, for instance, because she will never wear one. This doesn’t disappoint me, because I don’t care. But I feel I might be in the minority when it comes to these things, at least if the mass media is the yardstick by which I should be measuring all things in my life.

For instance, when my daughter gets married (if she even does, or if there is marriage at all in the future…on the space station EARTH 2.0), what is up with me “giving” her away? Sure, legally I own her, but only half. Her mother has dibs on the other half, and I’m not sure who ended up with which end. But traditionally the dad gives away the bride in a wedding scenario, and I don’t know how I feel about that. I never want to actually give her away because I always want her to be in my life. And while I recognize that kids grow up and leave the nest, it’s not likely that she would be climbing into her covered wagon and setting out to discover the Wild West. Even if she did, I’m fairly certain they have wifi out there now, or at least spotty cell reception.

Getting back to the princess thing, I suppose you can call your kid whatever you want, really. Words and labels have power, and the idea of a princess can be different things to different people. Some think of someone special and irreplaceable. Others think of the damsel in distress, waiting for a brave knight to save her. And others think of a feisty, no nonsense, get the job done lady with bagels on either side of her head. Who am I to judge? I just don’t feel comfortable with the connotation that my daughter is anything other than who she is. Sure, she’s as valuable to me as I can imagine, but she’s her; she’s her own person, and I want to encourage that. I’ll always be there for her, but part of watching your kids grow up is watching them become independent, and using nicknames like “princess” or “not you, the other one” can help or hinder that sense of identity and independence. She’s already well on her way at 7, and I’m pretty sure she’ll be running the whole show around here by 17.

It goes without saying, however, that if she (or her soon-to-be-born sister) does some day become an actual, for-real princess, I’m fine with just a little castle somewhere over on the edge of whichever kingdom she marries into. Maybe I’d take a dragon to get around on, and some cool looking armour (think Stormtrooper – Star Wars, not Nazi – but maybe shinier).

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