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Little Girls and Fairy-Tale Princesses

Is it okay for a young Christian girl to look up to the "Disney Princesses" for example, Cinderella, Snow White, Jasmine, Belle, and Mulan? My daughter is so infatuated with these characters that she has covered the walls of her room with their pictures. This makes me nervous since I'm not sure how it all lines up with truly biblical ideas of femininity and godly womanhood. What's more, I don't think it's healthy for her to go through life waiting for "Prince Charming" to come along and sweep her off her feet. What do you think?

It’s difficult to answer without knowing more about the situation. A great deal depends upon your daughter’s age and level of maturity. If she’s still very young – let’s say under ten years old – you can probably assume that this is a harmless stage. Chances are that it will pass as soon as she enters the “pre-teen” years. At that point you’ll probably be wishing you could return to it.

If she’s older, there may be deeper issues involved. In that case it would be a good idea to sit down and ask your daughter, in a non-threatening way, why these “princesses” are so important to her. If her “idealization” of these characters amounts to an obsession with a certain on-screen image or a superficial concept of beauty, then it’s clearly problematic. Her self-image should be based on God’s love for her and on the purity of her own Christian character, not on outward appearance.

That said, we think there may be another way of looking at the question you’ve posed. Let’s try broadening the discussion. Instead of focusing on “Disney princesses,” let’s talk about the “fairy tale princesses” on whom they are modeled. The old fairy tales, in their raw, original form, were not designed to function as social commentaries. It would be more accurate to describe these imaginative stories as dreams that spring out of the deepest parts of the human psyche. As such, they have something to say to us about our profoundest human longings. This is true for all of us, men and women alike. Children, as we all know, tend to understand this kind of thing more intuitively than adults.

You’re right to want to protect your daughter against unrealistic expectations. No human lover or husband, however thoughtful and kind, will ever be able to meet her deepest needs. Only Jesus Christ can do that. But then there’s a certain sense in which this is precisely what stories of fairy tale princesses are all about. Understood from this perspective, the princess is not simply an idealized “beauty queen.” On the contrary, she is “Everyman.” She’s the sinner in need of a Savior. She’s the captive human soul, waiting, like Rapunzel, to be delivered from the tower of her own helplessness. She’s the Sleeping Beauty, shrouded in death’s slumber until awakened by the kiss of God’s redeeming grace. She’s Snow White, standing by the wishing well and singing “Some Day My Prince Will Come.” The early church expressed this sentiment by way of an Aramaic phrase ” Maranatha – Lord, come soon!” (1 Corinthians 16:22). As we see it, any Christian girl who can learn to see herself as that kind of princess has already taken a step closer to the kingdom of God.

If you’d like to discuss your concerns over the phone with a member of our staff, don’t hesitate to call our Counseling department. Each member of that team is a committed Christian and a licensed family therapist.

Resources
If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Books on Parenting Girls

God of the Fairy Tale: Finding Truth in the Land of Make-Believe

Referrals
Christian Research Institute

Articles
Building Character in Your Princess

A Princess of Purpose

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