Introducing Miss Three

She had a truly magical day, with two parties, a perfect looking and great tasting (yes… it passed the test) snowman cake and lots of presents.

As my first born became a year older I, naturally, started thinking about the person she is and the parent I am trying to be.  There were certain things I was determined about when we started on this journey three years and nine months ago.  I wanted to foster a sense of fairness, acceptance and kindness, one that was not overly materialistic, or restricted by gender.  I am not so sure I am succeeding with all of these goals.

I would have loved her to greet the friends and family who came to celebrate without focusing on the presents in their hands, but perhaps this is beyond the capacity of a three year old.   She was grateful and enthusiastic about all her gifts which is at least part way there.

Miss Three has many wonderful qualities, a great sense of fun and humour (she loves telling jokes and making up her own jokes), she sense of curiosity about nature (we have vast collections of leaves, stick, gumnuts, flowers, cocoons and anything else the catches her eye), her sensitivity of the world around her (sometimes a downfall and can cause her unnecessary concern at times however) and her ability to communicate, and communicate and communicate!  But more than anything she is affectionate, in her eyes everyone needs a cuddle and usually a kiss on the cheek.  She calls her sister her “little sweetie” or “my darling” and tells me dozens of times a day how gorgeous Baby Good is.  I have made a point of telling her everyday just how loved she is and she does the same, to me, to Mr Good and to Baby Good.

But….. I have failed, wholly and undeniable failed when it comes to bringing her up without gender bias.  Despite my best efforts to push for non-gendered toys, clothes/colours and activities she is drawn to anything ‘girly’.  It pains me.  She tells me constantly that “her very favourite” colour is pink, she adores dolls, dolls houses, domestic role playing in very much gender traditional roles.  She told my Mum how she was going to wear make up when she’s older even though she has seen me wear make up on only a handful of occasions.  She loves fairies, princesses and ballerinas. When it comes to gift giving most family members ask for ideas or guidance before buying anything for the girls and usually I suggest something neutral or at least not pink.  I decided this year that perhaps I should actually take note of what SHE likes, so we now have a pink tricycle and helmet and a VERY pink dolls house.

I should say that there are some non-gender stereotypical or at least gender neutral activities and toys she likes, a couple of trucks and trains, a farm set.  She loves crafty things, play dough, cooking, playing with water and dirt (preferably at the same time) and she’s going to make a great business woman if her love of her new cash register complete with eftpos machine and store loyalty card is anything to go by.  She will read books for hours. But on the whole she is determinedly girly.  Is this a push against what I have tried to encouraged?  Is it so pervasive in our society, and especially advertising even though I try to shield her from that as much as I can, that it is unavoidable?  Is it a nature vs nurture thing, or maybe just what she happens to like?

The whole princess world scares me.  It is marketed so ruthlessly to our girls (thanks in large part to Disney) and focuses on traits I don’t want my daughters exposed to, the helpless princess being saved by her prince, the ‘good’ characters are the beautiful ones and the ‘bad’ ones are ugly.  And as much as I have tried she now seems to be hurtling towards this world a great speed.  Is there any way of stopping this?  Or perhaps I’m over thinking things (much like Miss Three does at times, hmmmm….. I wonder where she gets that from).  Maybe she will get into the princess thing, but will come out the other side still with her own thoughts in tact and without too much harm done?  What do you think?  Do you worry about this kind of thing with your daughters?  Are there similar issues for boys?

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10 Responses to Introducing Miss Three

  1. Happy Birthday Miss 3!
    On the whole, I don’t worry too much about the gender thing. Kids will work it out themselves in their own time, and frankly, gender isn’t purely a social construct – men and women *are* different. J is not very ‘girly’, but still loves pink and purple, and D is a Thomas devotee, yet is harbouring a slightly obsessive crush on Hootabelle. I just let them find their own way and try not to steer them too much. I don’t think that even Disney has the power to turn Miss 3 into a ditsy adult.
    And co-incidently just now J tells me randomly that she wants to be an ugly stepsister for halloween!

    • Barbara Good says:

      Love it! I bet J with rock an ugly step sister costume! Perhaps I do tend to ‘steer’ a bit too much, control freak much?? You have given me hope though that despite the pink obsession I might yet avoid a super girlie girl. That has always been my fear in having girls. I always thought I would have boys and bring them up to be feminists too. The girls thing has thrown me a bit.

  2. I hadn’t even considered the whole princess thing (as my daughter is only 9 weeks old) but having been handed a huuggge amount of pink since she was born and a whole lot of people having referred to her as a little princess I’m certainly thinking about it now. Why don’t boys get called a little prince?

    I think I will ponder a bit more on the princess thing….

    • Barbara Good says:

      It starts early with the pink doesn’t it. That was part of the reason we didn’t out the gender of our two (well actually we did eventually with Miss Three but never admitted that we knew), I just couldn’t bare to have all the pink/blue. Instead we had lots of lovely yellows, greens, whites, and oranges. Many of the clothes I buy for them come from the boys sections, I never buy pink in an attempt to even things up a bit. I have no idea why girls are called princesses and boys are not called princes.

  3. Liz says:

    My daughter was exactly the same at three. She was the most girly girl I knew and like you I had no idea how she got that way. One thing I did notice with the pink clothing thing was; how drawn to each other girls dressed in pink were, she always played with the other girl in pink at the park at Kinder etc etc. Wearing pink definitely had social benefits at that age plus its very easy to find pink clothes….. Although she still wants her middle name to be pink, at 5.5 she now happily wears other colours and her favourite toy is lego (the more gender neutral or girly sets). She still plays with dolls etc but also does other thinghs.She still loves princesses but she is too scared to watch the movies because of the various baddies etc. I’m actually not nearly as concerned by the princesses now as I used to be as they are just one in a potentially very long line of role models she will have to negotiate. And her ability to perceive and emulate character traits etc will definitely change over time.

    • Barbara Good says:

      Wow, pink being a social benefit, how interesting. Watching Miss Three in the park or swimming pool always makes me laugh. She will befriend anyone and everyone (actually it’s sometimes quite stalker like as she follows them around whether they like it or not). Having said that it also worries me, cos I think she’d likely go off with anyone as well, I need to keep a careful eye on her for that.

      Between you and L I have hope that this might just be a phase and my child will not necessarily morph into a heavy makeup wearing, clothes obsessed, ditz of a teenager – I see them a lot in my work – more interested in her popularity status then her academic one.

  4. rcra says:

    I’m worried about it for either aspect, as I don’t know what I’m growing in here till August! But I know of a few little girls who haven’t been directed in any particular way and still adore pink, purple, frills, princesses and all things decorative. I’m just as concerned that boys learn war, limited emotions and are steered away from whole chunks of the rainbow. I see it start so early: “little man” vs “little girl”, construction and heroes vs decorating and homemaking, “isn’t she pretty” vs “big stong boy”. It’s enough to grind my teeth to dust. People are even now giving me grief because we didn’t find out the gender of this one: how are we supposed to know what to get you?! they ask. Uh, small things; it’s a baby.
    Mind you, once you know what you’re looking for it’s hard not to see it. And I don’t know how to stop talking about it so I’ll stop typing there.
    But when it comes to what to do though… I dunno. I suppose just watch out for the conversations that relate to self respect and compassion, expectations and judgement and guide them through it. The princess thing is creepy but when she’s old enough to understand the full package I’m sure she’ll be bright enough to reflect on what she’s really choosing and decide for herself. Hey presto! A feminist!

    • Barbara Good says:

      A feminist, now if I managed to raise one of those – or preferably two – I’d be very proud! Good on you for not finding out, I made the same decision, but thankfully didn’t get too much grief about it. Both my girls came home from hospital in blue with puppy dogs on the t-shirt.

  5. Andrea says:

    Hi Barb, Happy Birthday to Miss three, It’s an exciting age. Special mention to Mr Good, the cake looked fabulous.
    I two ponder about the ‘stuff’ my four and two year old have. A fair portion is good quality second hand as we a great second hand kids shop up the street (too close my husband would point out!) however the kids have lots nlots n lots of stuff! My kids are two years and two weeks apart so we had a combined Western cowboy/ cowgirl and indian birthday party in march. For the following reasons this year I opted for a different approach to gifts. First reason my kids have loads of stuff. Secondly i didn’t want people to feel compelled to buy two gifts as it was a combined party, thirdly the kids get plenty from my family, and finally to be really honest the thought of having to find a place for lots gifts wasn’t appealing (my lazy bone was talking loudly to me!). So…to fit with Western theme I asked for a donation for the ‘Riding Develops Abilities’ (RDA formally Riding for the Disabled Association) in lieu of gifts. Everyone who came opted to do this, the RDA the kids we thrilled, i was thrilled as I didn’t have to find homes for tons of things (Yeah, cheered my lazy bone!) and the kids made no mention of gifts or lack there of. This was our approach for this year and I think in the future I will mix it up so years will with gifts and some I will ask to give to others… It will if anything stretch my lazy bone, easy my consumer conscience and maybe help others to a small degree.

    We have 1 pink ikea plate among many other colours and I couldn’t begin to tell you how much biffo, tears and upset we have over it. Girls, boys, my children and visitors alike all seem to ‘WANT The PINK ONE’ pink is the in colour! ps. I have a girl and boy and they love all the sterotypic girl / boy stuff I think they are pre programed! You love books as we do…embrace all things pink and girly with ‘Pinkalicious’ Victoria Kann & Elizabeth Kann.

    Andrea

    • Barbara Good says:

      Mr Good was VERY proud of that cake, I won’t stroke his ego any more by adding to the compliments. For some reason when I told people he made it, it was so much more impressive than when they thought I had made it! The ‘stuff’ issue really does get out of control doesn’t it. We have a small house with not much in the way or storage, so where to put the stuff is always an issue. I love the idea of asking for a donation to some where in particular. My two girls are also two years and two and a half weeks apart. I foresee joint parties in the future. The pink Ikea plates and cups and bowls are in high demand here and at playgroup too – with both girls and boys – and as Baby Good gets bigger I’m sure we’ll have the same problem. I will be seeking out that book at the library next time I’m there, thanks for the tip.

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