Tech & Media
I Finally Let My Kids Watch Disney Princess Movies And It’s Now My Favourite Part Of The Week
By Rachael Watts
PHOTO © Antonio Diaz/123RF
Nov 15, 2018
I have a secret: I let my kids watch Disney princess movies.
Even in trying to steer clear of the princess phase, we’d crashed directly into it.
It wouldn’t be such a big deal if I hadn’t been so against them before I became a parent. The passive princesses, lack of choices for female characters and the "happily ever after" all made me cringe.
I was adamant that I would not let my kids be tarred by the patriarchal, anti-feminist undertones of the Disney princess genre ("We’ll raise feminists! They’ll never watch any of those movies! Let alone television! Ha!"). Me of five years ago had a lot of learning to do. As is turns out, you can’t actually control what your kids are interested in.
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My kids' first introduction to Disney princesses was at their gymnastics class. The walls were stickered with brightly coloured dresses, and my kids spent less time on the rings and more time staring at the walls in awe. They quickly learned all the princesses’ names. It was a magical day for them when some friends told them there were movies that went along with these princesses.
They know that marrying a prince isn’t nearly as exciting as discovering what makes you unique and making decisions for yourself.
“Did you know that, mommy? Can we watch them?!” Even in trying to steer clear of the princess phase, we’d crashed directly into it.
In retrospect, I don’t think I could have stopped the princess mania if I tried — and more importantly, I didn’t need to. Each child has different interests and it’s my job as a parent to champion and guide them, not to protect them from everything or decide their interests for them. I want my kids to be strong, kind and to have an opinion on things. And on the matter of princess movies, their opinion was strong.
In the spirit of compromise, we decided they could watch them, but only if we did so together as a family so we could teach them to question what they see. We started with Frozen and, to my surprise, I liked it. The Disney princesses of 2013 had more agency than the ones I watched when I was a kid. Sure, there were things I would change, but the overall message was a good one. I couldn’t deny the magic of it all: the music, our special time together as a family, the funny questions from my kids.
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Now on Friday nights we make pizza and put on a movie — and I have another secret: it’s one of my favourite parts of the week. We’ve changed the end of the song in Frozen where Hans asks Anna to marry him to, “No way, Hans, we just met.” I tell them Cinderella doesn’t have to change what she wears to be beautiful. And my five-year-old turned to me when we were watching Beauty and the Beast last week and said, “Mommy, we get it. Gaston is not a nice guy and Belle can say no. Can you stop talking now?”
So yes, I let them watch princess movies — while also teaching them to stand up for themselves, that beauty is about who a person is, not what they wear and that they have the ability to say a loud "no" when something doesn’t seem right to them. They know that marrying a prince isn’t nearly as exciting as discovering what makes you unique and making decisions for yourself.
I hope, whether I’m there or not, they’ll know how to watch media with a critical eye. And I really hope they’ll remember our time together as a family each week. I know I will.
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