Friday, April 15, 2011

The Princess Generation

Morning car rides are usually pretty quiet, except for the radio. This is because the majority of my family is male.  I have learned that the boys really are not interested in conversation until they've woken up.  I can gauge from my sons how interested they are in discussion by the look on their faces.  Some days, they're chatty; others, just give 'em something to eat and walk away.  I don't tolerate disrespect; however, I get that not everyone wakes up with a song in their heart.  Unless, of course, you're Lily.  If Lily is tired, she may not be in a great mood.  But most of the time, Lily has LOTS to share.  With everyone.  As she's getting older, she is learning that the boys are not receptive to conversation early in the day.  Mostly.

Little girls just can't help it:  They are compelled to talk.  It's part of that inborn desire to be the center of attention.  Little girls are way worse than little boys about interrupting and being rude.  I work really hard with Lily to reign it in.  To be honest, I have to work really hard myself to control my own urge to interrupt and to talk too much!

Lately, I am seeing an alarming trend as I go about from school to school.  I am noticing more and more that girls are becoming difficult to manage in class.  I think it's a universal understanding that boys are more active than girls.  It seems like most people get that.  With girls, though, it's different.  I really think we've carried this 'princess' thing too far.  I've winced as girls have had the audacity to try to boss me.  I've had girls stand in front of the class, prepared to tell everyone what to do and how to do it.  Recently, I was in a classroom in which a little girl did everything she could to get the attention of the children around her.  This wasn't an early elementary class, either.  She was old enough to know better, one would think.  I had observed her shenanigans all morning.  She had been fussed at by her classmates and by other teachers.  I'd reprimanded her myself a few times.  At recess, I watched, dumbfounded, as she walked beside each one of her classmates and made the most horrible noise with her mouth.  She would walk beside a student and say, "GAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH....".  The student would turn and say, "Betty! (not her name, but what I'll call her)", with the most disgusted expression they could muster.  She would just walk on to the next student and do the same thing.  Over and over again.  By the time she was done, she had succeeded in alienating two entire classes.  No small feat, if you consider that they're kids, and kids do annoying stuff all the time.

Finally, when we came in from recess I pulled her aside to talk to her.  In as diplomatic way as possible, I told her what I had seen.  I told her that I cared to much for her to allow her to alienate herself from the other students.  We talked for a bit, and then she sat back down.  I didn't hear another obnoxious noise, she didn't kick her partner's desk again, and she didn't blurt out in class.  At the end of the day, she was my best helper.  I was shocked.  I don't know whether I was the only one to share the information that other people don't like it when you annoy them.  Maybe she was just receptive to hear it. 

The thing is, with girls the compulsion to seek attention is so strong that it drives them to do the most outrageous things.  Lily is almost 6, so the attention-seeking behavior amounts to interrupting and singing when the boys want her to be quiet.  Jacob looked at me in utter exasperation one afternoon while Lily was in the midst of one of her long discourses on life and said, "Girls talk a lot."  Tell me somethin' I don't know, Brother.

Sincerely, you have to nip this thing in the bud.  We work with Lily a lot on good manners.  It's tough.  If we don't work with her and keep working with her, she'll only get worse.  If your sweet little darling doesn't learn when she's young to be polite and respectful, someone else who does not love her as much as you will teach her.  And here's the thing:  If you didn't know it, girls are mean.  If little Betty doesn't learn her lesson, the other girls won't play with her and will talk badly about her behind her back.  I ain't saying it's right; it's just how it is.  My boys will look at Lily and say, "Lily, be quiet!"  Boys tell each other to stuff it right to their faces.  Girls don't do that, though.  They are sneaky. 

The other thing about attention-seeking behavior, is that even negative attention feels good to a girl.  Little girls don't necessarily get that the disgusted look on their classmates' faces means they don't like what they are doing.  To the obnoxious girl who wants attention, she has succeeded.  That little girl will graduate to tight dresses and short skirts someday.  I think that every girl at least once in her life has acted a fool to get attention.  What she needs to hear--preferably from a loving father--is that the kind of attention that foolishness gets is not the kind of attention you want.

Back to the 'princess' thing:  I believe that Jesus is the King of Kings.  I know that I am a child of God and a joint heir with Jesus.   BUT, my Lord has taught me to be humble and kind and loving and to put others first.  I am teaching Lily this very thing, and I think more parents should be doing this as well.  Don't tell your daughter she's a princess unless you first tell her that she has been created to serve the King of Kings.  I'm very concerned that we are raising a generation of girls who expect to be adored.  God help the boys....

Many blessings,


1 comment:

  1. Yet another good word. You're becoming quite prolific, and thankfully are the anti-Oprah at the same time. You can keep my princesses any time!