I am watching these developments like a hawk, and have made it a point to explain (once is never enough), that many of the things she has highlighted are neither boy nor girl things, but just things, for all to appreciate. Still, she was horrified when I picked a beautiful inflatable solar system set as a birthday present for one of her little girlfriends, as opposed to an addition to her friend's toy kitchen. She relented in the end, when I showed her how cool the system was, and how each inflatable planet can be hung from the ceiling. (I bought her a set too, by the way, and will hang it up once we re-do her bedroom.)
Thankfully, she is by nature quite a practical person, and she would almost rather pick out a comfortable but non-girly outfit, than a fancy dress that restricts her movement. Even her desire to paint her nails was short-lived. One paint, and she decided that it was not a big deal, and not worth the wait of sitting still to get her nails pretty!
I believe in allowing her space to explore and grow in her tastes and preferences, while always making available alternatives and possibilities. If she wants to always choose pink, or princess-y things, or play pretty dress-up with her friends, so be it. But I will also talk about the beauty of other colours, the beauty from within, different types of princesses other than the sparkly, fluffy ones, and offer new scenarios for pretend play to take place. We also watched a ballet performance by the Singapore Dance Theatre, where there were many male ballerinas, to debunk the idea that ballet is only for girls.
Still, I cringed when Roboman bought her a Cinderella book that she asked for, and have decided to restrict the screening of Princess Sofia The First on television, as there are themes I am not comfortable with.
Recently, a friend gifted my daughters two books from the Princess Parables Series:
This series is about five princesses who are sisters, and each book tells a story with a focus on one of the sisters. As with their names, each princess has her own strength and quality, and these are highlighted in the adventures they get themselves into. The stories are also loosely based on the parables in the Bible, and at the end of each book, there is a description about how the story parallels a specific Bible parable, and describes the lessons that we can learn from it. I like how the princesses come across as thoughtful, hardworking and proactive - qualities that I would like Bubbles to develop.
Bubbles has read Princess Faith's Mysterious Garden and Princess Hope and the Mysterious Treasure. She loves both books, and I am already planning to get her these other 3 books:
- Princess Charity's Courageous Heart
- Princess Joy's Birthday Blessings
- Princess Grace and the Little Lost Kitten
Another book with a princess theme (or perhaps an anti-princess theme) I would recommend is Olivia and the Fairy Princesses. This book describes Olivia true to her form - wanting to be different from everyone else, and therefore being hilariously anti-princess. When we first read this book, I think Bubbles was a little confused, and surprised by the anti-princess concept. It gave her a lot of food for thought, and opened up opportunities for conversations about fitting in with friends; when it is okay to be different etc. This book is a little darker, and may throw up more questions from a curious child. But I like that is helps balance the onslaught of other pink princess stories that are everywhere these days!
For those who plan Christmas gifts ahead of time, these books could be on your shopping list!