“You’re acting like a step-mother.” – Phoebe to Megan
No Megan did not refuse to let Phoebe go to the ball. But she was disciplining – which creates an “end of the world” feeling inside all of our girls. So Phoebe announced the worst insult she could imagine: “stepmother!”
I would not have been able to stop laughing, but Meg held it together and even tried to teach a valuable lesson. After all most stepmothers are not evil. But I doubt Phoebe heard. Her Disneyfication is almost complete. She is a princess… Not in the dad gets to choose her husband sort of way (which I support), but the glass slipper, dreams come true, where “parents don’t reprimand their daughters” sort of way. (Yes, I can sing the songs…)
We had friends over for dinner last night and I saw parents use Disneyfication to their advantage. Our four-year old girls ate dinner together at a Rapunzel table – perfect for the girls, who would soon be wearing Snow White costumes. During the meal their little one was eating like any four year old, which is a little uncouth. So her mom asked, “How would a princess eat?” Bibbidi-Boppity-Boo up came the fork and knife. Feet on the floor. She was probably even chewing with her mouth closed.
Parenting is a difficult business. We have set out, with little training beyond our own upbringing, to raise the next generation. We want them to be better than our generation. But our topics range from forks to the birds and the bees. From sharing to budgeting. Many of the topics I barely understand (just ask me which side of the plate to put the fork…) and I have no idea if we are using the right strategies.
And occasionally I feel like I am grasping at straws. I try incentive. Punishments. Logic. I might even borrow the Disney style (though I worry too many girls will want castles when they grow-up). All in an effort to raise perfect children.
But is this the goal? In small group we watched Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability (it is great, a message for the church). And she said this on parenting:
And we [try to] perfect, most dangerously, our children… When you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, “Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh grade.” That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems that we see today.
And in this our little girls have it right. In the mold of Disney they are searching. It is not about the prince and his charms. But they are looking for someone to love them. To see past the smudges and mistakes. Amidst the spills and tears, they want someone to declare them worthy.
I hope I can do this, while teaching them about credit cards and flying kites and tying shoes and… in it all to show they are worthy of love.