Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why Our Daughter is a Princess AND a Servant

Just like many little girls her age, Eloise is obsessed with princesses. Her current favorite is Elsa from Frozen (Ummmm hello? Isn't every little girl currently obsessed with Elsa!?). For Halloween she is going to be Cinderella (she's content being pretty much ANY princess). At the top of her lungs she points out any princess she sees. She loves to read princess story books and watch princess movies.

Sometimes she even thinks her name is Princess. The other day I watched a hilarious exchange between the kids and some complete strangers. The kids were out on our deck and were yelling out to some strangers in the parking lot (we currently live in an apartment building). Isaiah shouted, "Hey, my name is Isaiah!" and the strangers politely responded what their names were. Then he yelled out, "And this is my sister. Her name is Ellawee!" But Eloise was having none of that and she shouted, "NO I'm Princess!". And thus started a debate of the two kids yelling out to the poor, unsuspecting strangers, "Her name is Eloise" and "NO I'm Princess!" over and over again. I'm pretty sure those dazed strangers left without understanding a word of what was going on, just happy to get in their car and speed away from those crazy children. =)

We love that Eloise loves princesses and says that she is one. BUT we are very careful with how far we allow the whole princess attitude to go. We want her to grow in her understanding that her princess playtime is clearly fantasy and not something to truly aspire to.

I think there are some serious issues with kids growing up in our country these days. Since we're talking about girls I'll focus on them for now. Girls are growing up thinking they are not only princesses but QUEENS, needing to be served, having people (men) bend their wills to them, thinking they are in charge of life! Many parents are raising a generation of spoiled, rotten, brats (to put it frankly) who get what they want when they want it because they are "royalty"! Girls are fixated on looking perfect and are constantly searching for the newest thing to make them look more beautiful. And I think some of it starts at two years old with the princess mentality (though obviously not a complete and holistic source). Our girls are growing up from a young age thinking they rule the roost! They are the princess, the boss, the chief of command! (And please, if you don't believe me just watch the show Toddlers and Tiaras.) This is not the mentality that we want to instill in Eloise or any of our children. And it's not the example that Jesus set before us...

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

We need to be careful to set the example of Jesus before our girls, not the example of the world. Yes, Eloise can pretend to be a princess. She can be Cinderella for Halloween. She can dress up in princess dresses and read princess books, and have a princess themed room. {BUT} she is also a servant. She is a princess AND a servant. And if you ask her she will tell you that! (Hopefully.... we've been working for some time now to drill it into her). We want to teach Eloise that in order to be a great princess, she has to be a great servant. She needs to serve others, to look out for others above herself, not to expect everything to be handed to her but to be willing to put in hard work and effort. Not to live on a throne above the rest of society but to get her hands dirty digging in the dirt, taking care of herself, her family, and helping others. 

While being a princess sounds wonderful (beautiful, "saved" by a prince, rich, etc), it is not realistic. For most of us life does not provide (on a constant basis) a flood of lavish gifts, attention, and assistance in times of need. And we don't want our daughters growing up thinking that that is how life is supposed to be. I don’t want my daughters to expect to get everything they want; Drew and I hope to raise them to be thankful for getting the things they need.

The Bible speaks of a reputable woman as being a servant,

"She must be well respected by everyone because of the good she has done. Has she brought up her children well? Has she been kind to strangers and served other believers humbly? Has she helped those who are in trouble? Has she always been ready to do good?"
1 Timothy 5:10

And does the Proverbs 31 woman, the woman God calls "excellent", sound like a Disney princess to you? She is a princess for sure, but not the kind we think of. (Not all verses from the chapter are included)

15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.
17 She dresses herself with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

And what does God say about this woman?

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

This is the type of woman we want Eloise to be!

And we teach the same concept of servant hood to Isaiah. He is told by Drew often that, "In order to be a great leader, he must first be a great servant." And we will tell Olive the same things as she gets older.

Please, don't get me wrong. We want our kids to know how special and loved they are to us, others, and God. We want them to feel treasured. Eloise {IS} treasured. She is LOVED. She is special. She is priceless to us. And we want her future spouse to feel and treat her the same way. We want to give her the whole world and then some! But, more important than the things we WANT to give her is our overarching desire not to have her (or any of our children) grow up with a sense of entitlement in life. Thinking that they deserve more, better, the best out of life because of the priceless prince or princesses that they are.

We believe Eloise is a princess. But we remind her that she is also a servant. And she is for darn sure the cutest princess/servant I have ever seen!  

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