The Problem With Princesses

Where Can A Girl Get A Superhero Toy?

The Problem With Princesses

I have two boys. And I'm thrilled. As it was once put to me, when you have a boy you don't need to worry about everyone else's penis, you just need to worry about your son's.


My guys are only 4 and 2, but in a decade I'll be glad to worry about just 2 boys instead of a locker room full of them.

There's another reason I'm glad I have boys—the pink princess thing.

The princessification of our girls flows right alongside the mass marketing to boys of Transformers and Star Wars and Cars. Marketers have distilled the gender types into such specific descriptions that we now live in a black and white (blue and pink) world when raising our kids.

Girls are princesses, boys are warriors. Disney likes it like that, in 2009 they made nearly $4B off their princess brands alone.

Still, Riley would like things to change. I mean, why can't girls have superhero toys and boys have princess toys?

Lego made headlines last week when it announced it was releasing female friendly sets. That immediately led to the questions of "when was Lego not female friendly?"

My niece and son played on Christmas morning for hours with a traditional set of red, blue and green blocks and not once did she pine for something pink.

The princess model creates a world where Barbie says "math is hard" and people like the Kardashians are role models. Princessing our daughters grooms them for Toddlers and Tiaras and teaches 5 year olds to label their 3 year old rivals as "hookers."

"Dr. Melanie Waters, lecturer in English literature and specialist in feminist theory at Northumbria University, absolutely has a problem with the princess culture. "[Princess dolls] are promoting a very narrow and prescriptive view of femininity, and one that ought to be outmoded in the 21st century," she tells Ebner. "I think they are regressive. They encourage girls to be passive, and to nurture. There's an aggressive focus on beauty, hair accessories and other images that promote the idea that girls should be concerned with their appearance".

From an early age, girls are being socialised, it seems, for the caring, soft "feminine jobs" that perpetuate gender stereotypes, job segregation, and lower pay rates."

I'm not wanting us to go off the gender deep end by raising a completely neutral child as one couple recently made headlines by announcing this past year, but let's not stick them in completely separate boxes.

There needs to be balance. I wear pink shirts, as do my sons. I've picked him up from school with pigtails and a tutu on because other kids were trying it. My 5-year-old niece asked for tools for Christmas so she could woodwork with her dad. Why can't we just follow their lead instead of determining their future for them?

Now there is argument to be made that princessing our girls is no more likely to turn them into D-List celebs with a sex tape than Transformers is to turn our sons into machine gun toting maniacs. Active parents who put education and environment above all else will be the guiding forces of our children.

How do you feel about the pink princessification of our daughters?


The Disney Thing

Will You Surprise Your Kids With a Big Trip?

The Disney Thing

When I was 6 my grandparents drove me from Ontario to Disney World in Florida. I swam in the ocean, visited the Kennedy Space Centre, climbed trees to pick oranges and did all the Disney stuff.

Going back in time, that trip is one of the first things I can remember. It started an annual family tradition of trips to amusement parks when you turned 6.

That trip to Disney World was one of the greatest times of my life.

A video meme that modern parents are loving to do to their kids is surprising them with a trip to the happiest place on earth. The concept is simple, whip out the video camera and start rolling as the kids piece together where they're going on vacation.

Disney encourages the meme by building ad campaigns around "the surprise".

I couldn't do that with my kids. They'd have no clue.

Maybe it's because we're trying to raise character kids without characters, but Zacharie is 4 and has no idea what Disneyland is. He doesn't know who Mickey is. Has no clue about Goofy, Space Mountain or any of it.

My mom is starting to talk about wanting to take her grandchildren to Disneyland (to continue the trend her mother started) and I couldn't be more thrilled - because then I won't have to do it.

I went with my ex-wife and stepdaughter to Disney a number of years ago and it felt like my Grad night in high school - the experience could never live up to the anticipation.

The lines are long, and the rides are lame. (Especially if you're going with the 6 and under set). How many buggies driving past painted characters that pop out can one handle? It's crowded. Expensive. Stressful, and, honestly? Boring.

I took my son to our local amusement park, Calaway Park, this past summer. I didn't have to pay for parking. You can get an annual pass for cheap. The lines are measured in minutes, not hours. They had bumper cars, trains, twirlies, merry-go-rounds, log rides and popcorn - things Disneyland has.

I love re-living life through the eyes of my children. I love the genuine thrills they have at discovering something new. Perhaps if my sons had an inkling as to what Disney is I might be more excited to see that dream come true, but as it stands now - I'm not going.

Are you doing "The Disney Thing" with your kids?


Do Your Kids Believe In Santa?

Justin Bieber Thinks You're Lying To Your Kids

Do Your Kids Believe In Santa?

If you're one of the parents going through the hoops to perpetuate the spirit of the Santa Claus myth (like by going so far as to explain the Santa math behind how he does it), Justin Bieber thinks you're a liar.

Growing up, Bieber's mom didn't do the Santa thing.

He says his mom, Pattie Mallette, “always told me there wasn’t a Santa.”

He explains, “This was her logic: She thought if I grew up knowing about Santa then finding out he wasn’t real, that it would be like she was lying to me. And then when she told me about God, I maybe wouldn’t believe her.”

“She just wanted to be straight-up and honest with me all the time,” he adds in an interview with AOL Music, noting, “But I didn’t tell my friends or ruin it for anyone — I was a good kid!” [GossipCop]

Sorry, Biebs, but I like lying to my kids.

We've got the Elf on the Shelf hiding all around our house to report back to Santa. I've picked up a Santa voice changing app so my son can hear messages from the Jolly Old Elf himself. When we go to the mall, we take pictures of the things my son wants and email them to Santa. We visit every Santa we see in the mall, except he knows those are not the real St Nick. They're just the helpers.

Santa Claus is about the spirit of the season. A happy man who tries to do good in the world by rewarding people with anonymous gifts and kindness. Where's the lie in that? I'm sure if Christopher Hitchens were to debate Bieber on his belief system, he would say there is a bigger lie Justin is buying into.

Whether you believe in Santa and/or the little lord Jesus, you're perpetuating the spirit of kindness, charity, giving, and happiness. That's what this season is all about.

My son has gone and picked out his favourite toys to drop at the firehall for "the girls and boys who don't have more toys." He drew pictures for 2 senior citizens we adopted through Santa's Secret Service. He rang bells in the mall for the Salvation Army.

If lying to my kid about Santa has a side effect of that kind of charity and giving, then I'll lie to him every day.