sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

September 8, 2011

Who Needs “My Princess Boy”?

Filed under: education, parenting, society — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 7:41 pm

Last week Political Junkie Mom had an interesting post about “genderless” children.  This is how her entry ends:

As I combed Borders Tuesday for any remaining children’s books, I noted the only one left in multiples: My Princess Boy. I was relieved.

I remember seeing this odd book too.  It’s about a boy named Dyson (note to self: Don’t name a boy Dyson) who likes to dress up so much, he just can’t help himself.  His family accepts him for who he is and even celebrates him for it, but some people state and say mean things.  The book is written by Cheryl Kilodavis, and is recommended for children ages 4-8.  I have a feeling that it’s destined for elementary school classrooms.

I doubt very many kids will be interested in reading My Princess Boy.  Boys naturally gravitate to trucks and pirates, and girls like everything pretty, just not boys.  I suppose some parents might choose it for their children, but most won’t, even in the liberal Bay Area.  Schools have to teach about homosexuality these days; Eastern Right had an interesting entry about it.

I understand that since My Princess Book is written for children, Kilodavis is not advising parents.  But I am surprised by moms and dads who are more than ready to volunteer their children for culture war mascots.  Some boys might dress up because they are gay, others copy their big sisters.  A prudent parent will gently steer her son towards more socially acceptable behavior.  Even if the boy really really likes to dress up, limiting dress up to dress up play time might help safeguard her son’s feelings.  There is nothing unusual about this request because most parents will not allow around the clock dress up parties for girls either.

It’s not just that a 4-8 child is not interested in real life-like story of a boy who likes to dress up, he doesn’t need it.  It’s unusual for a boy to want to be a girl, and many children will never meet somebody who does.  If they do, they might ignore the oddity or accept him without any parent/teacher help and without a lesson on human sexuality.  Bullying is a real problem, but because gays and lesbians are not the only kids who get bullied, it can and should be addressed without dragging sex into discussion.

How about drawing on rich Anglo-American tradition to combat all bullying?  One fabulous thing about living in an Anglo country is that people don’t stare very much.  Consider the country classic by Hank Williams, “Mind Your Own Business”:

Some kids are bullies because they don’t know how to be real men or women.  Re-adopting Western stoic masculinity as a model behavior for boys can offer a cure for that.



  1. Well done. And thanks for the link. ; )

    Why some parents bow perpetually to … whatever their kids want at the moment boggles the mind.And some of this I see that way–parents who refuse to nudge, gently or otherwise, kids in a different direction.

    Comment by pjMom — September 8, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

  2. Yeah, I’ve met a helluva lotta kids in the last 9 years, and none of ’em seemed to have “gender confusion” issues. It has to be a rare beast. Most of the time, these issues could be avoided thru proper parental guidance, I’m suspecting.

    Nice music choice as juxtaposition. Here’s another good one: they can have their Princess Boy, and I’ll take A Boy Named Sue.


    Comment by nooneofanyimport — September 9, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

  3. Too many parents try to be best friends with their children instead of being parents.

    Comment by Conservatives on Fire — September 9, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

  4. The Japanese have a saying and that is:

    “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.”

    Indeed, most of life is about this. Writing kids’ books about Timmy wanting to paint butterflies even though he’s blind or Sara wanting to be an astronaut even though she has no legs is one thing, but trying to assign a sexual/gender value to a child based on a parents’ politics is another and it’s wrong.

    Sure, it would be great if fat kids never got teased or tall kids never were made fun of but coming to terms with this is what “builds character.” Learning to “turn the other cheek” is the most important thing to and you don’t need to write a book called “My Princess Boy” to do that.

    If that doesn’t work, learning a sharp upper cut to the jaw can help, too.

    In middle school there was a kid who called me “pizza face” and eventually I got fed up and punched him… hard. Sure, I got sent home but he never said that again after that.

    Comment by Harrison — September 9, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

  5. pjMom, conservatives on Fire,
    It goes for both parents who don’t steer their children towards socially acceptable behavior and parents who don’t teach their kids not to be bullies.

    Ha-ha! Thanks for posting the song. I love Cash.
    I don’t remember knowing any boys who like to dress up when I was growing up. Granted, we didn’t really have specialty dress up play dresses. One boy put on a woman’s clothes once, but, I think, he was making fun of girls, not pretending to be one.
    A rare beast indeed.

    Good point. If my kids punch back a bully I’ll buy them a pizza.

    Comment by edge of the sandbox — September 10, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

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