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About a year ago, I noticed Hello Kitty didn’t have a mouth.
If you’re wondering why that’s a big deal, it’s because girls grow
up with a lot of toys and images that give them mixed messages about self-esteem. On the one hand, parents raise their daughters to be confident, articulate
and outspoken. On the other hand, parents give their daughters a toy that
giggles instead of speaks because she doesn’t have a mouth. See where I’m
This presents a problem for parents trying to be good
parents because little girls, and sometimes their brothers, love Miss Hello
Kitty. They don’t care if Kitty can
stand up for herself in debate class or if Miss Kitty can express her feelings
with confidence. Little girls see a shiny, pink cat/girl and they want in.
As a parent, I constantly grapple with doing the right thing
by my children. I’m sure you do,
too. It’s hard to tell if it’s better
to let your little girl play with the Hello Kitty airplane and the Barbie
dreamboat she got for her birthday, or a gender-neutral doll that’s probably
better for her self-esteem but a lot less fun. And what about boys and shooting games? Ugh, doing the right thing can
My kids are going to get Hello Kitty and they’re also going to get conversations about self-esteem.
One thing I do know is there’s no such thing as a good mom
or a good dad. There’s just parents
trying to do the best they can. Personally, I think it’s better to raise kids in a relaxed household
than in a home where everything is a political statement.
So my kids are going to get Hello Kitty and they’re also
going to get conversations about self-esteem. And they’ll always know that they aren’t good or bad, no matter what
choices they make.
Here are 6 things good moms wouldn’t give their kids that I
I Think She’s Bad: Barbie’s got the body of a supermodel and can only wear
heels. I’d hate for my daughter to grow up thinking she’s supposed to look like
Barbie and I’d hate for my son to grow up thinking girls are supposed to look
Am I Going to Do? I’m going to have a lot of conversations with my kids
about body image and teach them that no matter what you look like, you look
just fine. And I’m going to deal with my own “Barbie dreams” so I don’t pass
them on to my kids. And most importantly
I’m going to let Barbie be just what she is: a doll. She’s no more or less important that Mr.
Potato Head or that Slinky waiting to be played with in the corner.
I Think It’s Bad: Classic princesses are waiting to be saved by a guy on a
white horse. This goes against everything I believe in. After all, what if my
princess never meets her knight in shining armor? She shouldn’t have to feel
like her life is less valuable.
Do I Do About The Archaic Princess Messages? I’m going to teach my girl
that her value doesn’t come from being picked by a guy. Her value is in her
intelligence, effort, smarts and work ethic. I hope she finds love in her life.
I also hope she picks a career that makes her happy. We’re going to talk about
that and never pressure her to meet “the one.”
I Worry About Video Games: I want my kids to play outside. I don’t want
them to be zombies who can only be entertained by a screen. Plus the games are
often violent and I’m worried about what all those images do to my kid’s brain.
Video Game or Not? We’re doing it, with strict restrictions. And we have
one rule: If video games start to become a fight or negotiation, they go away. But
video games can be fun and they can be educational. There’s also the social, “I’ll be the only
kid at the party who doesn’t know how to play Mario Cart” implications I don’t
want to put upon my kids.
And what about the violent games? We’re not
buying them. We’re just not.
I Worry About Super Heroes and Action Toys: One word: Fighting.
What to Do About Batman and Co.? My experience shows me that superheroes are a
phase that kids, mostly boys, pass through. So I’m going to focus on the positive aspects of superheroes. After all,
super heroes fight evil and try to help normal, everyday people. Plus, the gadgets are cool and open up a
world of imagination from which kids really benefit.
5. The Color Pink
If I want to raise a strong empowered girl, I have to empower her to pick what she likes, including everything being pink.
I Worry About My Little Girl’s Obsession With the Color Pink: As a mom, I
don’t want my daughter to be defined by classic gender roles down to the color
of her clothing.
How Do I Deal With My Pink-Obsessed Daughter? If I want to raise a strong
empowered girl, I have to empower her to pick what she likes, including
everything being pink. I’m not telling her that’s what she has to wear and
teaching her she has to girly things. If that’s her choice, I’m going with it.
Why This Is a Problem: I want my kids to be healthy and fit. Plus, I eat
healthy and want my kids to do the same. It’s my job as their parent to manage what
they eat and teach them healthy habits.
Do I Have Healthy Kids And Give Them Junk Food? Part of teaching my kids healthy eating
habits is teaching them moderation and why some foods aren’t good for you. I never want them to be scared of certain
foods. So I want to teach them it’s OK to have those junk foods that you
love, just not all the time!