Monday, February 21, 2011

Holy Seven Dorks Batman!

So the other night I was diligently working on surfing the net my book while Hubsters was putting Little Monster to bed.  He was reading her most recent book she checked out from her school library.  It was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  I heard them chatting a little and then I heard him go, "It's the Seven Dwarfs, not the Seven Dorks."

Many a mom would think I failed as a mother of a 5 year old girl.  She doesn't know her Disney Princess stories. (although she loves the new Rapunzel movie)  But, she knows who Batman, Diego and Spongebob is.  She could care less who Jasmine is, but she loves Aladdin.  Believe, me I tried to get her to watch some of those old Disney classics, but she just wasn't interested.  She would rather watch Cars, Finding Nemo and Toy Story.

I also try very hard not to push her into any gender roles or stereotypes.  I have a huge issue with that.  Why are girls only "supposed" to like the Princesses, pink and dressing up like them?  My daughter loves Batman, blue and dressing up like a vampire.  But she also loves icarly, Barbies and Littlest Pet Shop.  The important part is that I let her choose what to like.  I tried everything out on her, and she picked what she was most attracted to.

I think it's very important not to push our children into those stereotypical roles that society says is the "right" way.  It gives them variety, opens their minds to new experiences, and lets them make their own choices.  Plus it keeps them from prejudices they may develop as a result of gender stereotypes.

Right now, Little Monster is into Batman.  She started checking Batman books out from her library at school and we had to read them every night.  Then one day she told me a boy at school said she couldn't check the Batman book out because it was a "boy book".  (Le sigh).  She told him that she could check out whatever she wanted to (yay!).  But then next week she came home with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  (Le sigh again).

So it's an ongoing learning experience for us, but I always try to be open with her and let her choose what she wants even though sometimes this little voice in the back of my head goes, "but everyone else is doing pink/princesses/fairies" or "I wonder if she's picking a princess theme out because all the other girls in school are".  But I stand firm, and let her be her own person.

What does this have to do with writing?  Everything.  When you create your characters, try to give them their own personality instead of pushing them into certain stereotypical roles we're used to seeing.  Push the envelope a little.  Take a chance- you never know what your character will reveal to you.

Okay, I'm off to watch the old Adam West Batman movie for the umpteenth time with Little Monster.  Holy Heartfailure, I may just die after a week straight of campy humor and rubber sharks.

27 comments:

David Powers King said...

Great post, Abby. Coming from a psychology background, your comments are spot on. Imposing our interests on our children have more negative repercussions than if we give them room to develop their own interests. Again, words well said.

lotusgirl said...

Hear! Hear! I'm a big proponent of letting your kids follow their own interests. Expose them to good things and let them chose what resonates with them.

Melissa said...

This is an awesome post Abby. And you're such a good parent! Not pushing your kids to be what they aren't is an excellent thing! When I was younger I hated most Disney movies... except Lion King. I loved that movie. And Fox and the Hound. I spent most of my childhood watching the comic book guys too. Eventually, I did develop a love for other Disney movies but not till I was like fifteen.

Forcing characters or people do like something or be something they aren't is only hurting them. I love this post!

gideon 86 said...

You know Abby,

I liked your post a lot. I agree you should let your children pick what they like. Our society is WAY too rigid,

I would also like to comment on your second to last paragraph, giving characters a less than stereotypical role.

I TRIED to do this with my newest novel. I wrote about a tough abused seventeen-year-old guy. My first 250 words have him noticing things about another guy from school who happens to be blind. I mentioned things like bright blue eyes and fringed hair.

Well, I entered this in a Miss Snark's agent contest. Well, it got ripped to shreds. "no teenage guy would comment on another guy."

"He must be gay",,,, which,would be fine, but he's not, just the opposite, he's a womanizer.

I tried to have my male teenage character be more observant. And this is what I got.

WIll I change it? Maybe, not totally, maybe tone it down a bit. How can anyone judge anything on 250 words. The next page clarified many of the gripes about my first page.... It is so frustrating.

I just thought I'd let you know.... I doesn't always work.

Michael

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Seven Dorks! Well, compared to the dwarves in LOTR, they are dorky. And that's cool your daughter likes Batman. Why not?

Michelle Merrill said...

I love this! I wish my four girls were more into the hero's and princes. They are totally girly with dress ups and princess obsessions. And I like how you connected it to characters!

Kindros said...

I could think of much worse to be forced to watch (and I have with cousins). It's good that she is out of the box though, shows she isn't willing to follow just to be accepted.

N. R. Williams said...

I did the same with my girls. Now, my granddaughter is miss pink and purple. But that's her personality, all fluff and wonderful.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Meredith said...

Such a good point! Characters need their own personalities and their own agencies. Yay for letting your daughter choose what she's interested in!

Lisa said...

I totally agree. My 3-year-old likes Spider-Man, so I got her a costume on sale after Christmas. My mom was all like "That's a boy costume." Le sigh times two. She also kind of loves princesses, but I agree with you that we try not to push her in any special direction.

JEFritz said...

Oh, I hated it when the boys would make fun of me for reading "boy" books. They were so much more fun than princesses.

Cinnamon said...

My three kids have never been interested in Disney. I have all the old films on DVD, but no takers!

So, when we went to Orlando, we spent all out time at Universal--they loved it.

Right now, my 5 year old loves Justin Beber. I've told him it's not a girl thing if he thinks Justin is cool...

mom said...

Sounds like you may have had some cross-gender exposure growing up!

Dangerous With a Pen said...

I'm with you - I have two girls and believe me, we have our share of princesses and pink and "fashion" (that, from my 8 yr old). But my older one is also the kid that wanted to be a witch in the year every other girl at school was a Disney princess for Halloween. My little one likes Spiderman and when a mom recently asked her if she's going to have a princess birthday cake, she said no, she wanted Thomas (the Tank Engine). I'm happy with whatever they want to play. I do veto some tv stuff because it's more violent, but not because it's boy stuff or girl stuff. Neither of my girls are big fans of really watching any movies on tv - they start but they lose interest. But then so do I... hmm... :)

Jen Daiker said...

I love how you're still supporting your little one. My mom did daycare for 20 years and I always hated when their parents would state what they could and couldn't play with. Boys weren't allowed to dress up. Why not? They're children... they just want to have fun.

No gender roles in the imagination world so why in the real world?

Donea Lee said...

I 110% agree with you Abby! I've always let my daughter make her own decisions (she still went with Princesses, even when I suggested switching out to vampires or witches...) And she knows all the Disney princesses, but she also loved shows like Spongebob, Courage the Cowardly Dog, or Ed, Edd and Eddy. She also never did curls or bows or well, anything at all in her hair when she was younger - would play dirty. That changed as she approached "teenager". But, the point is - it changed because she wanted it to. And I'm totally cool with that! Great tie in to fiction characters, too ~ :)

Colene Murphy said...

You wonderful mother, you! I like to think that's how I will be one day with a kid. Let them choose and do whatever. I know I liked boy toys A LOT! They had all the ones with wheels! I think it is so cool that you're so open with her.

erica and christy said...

As a long-time preschool teacher, I'm SOOO over the princesses. I want to chop off all their hair and forceably tattoo their arms with dragons and snakes. It's probably good God chose to give me boys. :)

But really, they're everywhere. And while I love a good girl-meets-boy story, the concept of one having to choose between seven dorks seems fun!
erica

Jennie Bailey said...

I wrote a paper in college about how Disney movies had ruined me. For reals. Waiting for my prince to come save me when it was more likely the damn mice in my apartment would start talking. Good for you for letting her decide on her own. It sounds to me like she has achieved something in childhood that most of us still don't have as adults - balance. She's got the girl stuff balanced out with the boy stuff! You go, Kylie! And in her defense, they were kind of dorky - I mean, Sneezy, Dopey, etc.? Dork names!

alexia said...

So right! I have a sociology degree, so this is the kind of stuff I bitch about all the time. Oh, societal expectations! It's awesome you're letting LM make her own choices about stuff. I do the same with my son.

Jenni Merritt said...

Psst... check out my most recent post ;)

erica and christy said...

I'm in LOVE with your new blog look! And I can't say how sorry I am if you've had it up forever at this point! I think your daughter and my five year old son would be GREAT friends. He loves all the things your daughter does...along with the colors pink and purple!!!

Christy :0)

Ellie said...

I'm not a mother but I applaud you nevertheless. Having come from a family that tried (in vain) to push me into the stereotypical girl box, I know the damage it can do to your development, creativity and confidence. Bravo to you, I say.

Nahno McLein said...

That's a very good point.

Also you should get an award for being Mom. Your girl will thank you someday for having the choice, whatever it may be.

Sometimes I don't like my characters, well, that's natural, isn't it. I still give them my best.
Nahno ∗ McLein

Kelly Dexter said...

It's awesome that you're letting your daughter follow her own path, and that she's loving what appeals to her!

Also, Seven Dorks? Adorable!

Al said...

They are all totally different. It is great you are comfortable to let your little one follow her interests.

My baby girl became a mad keen chess player. Often in tournaments she was the only female.

Amie Kaufman said...

Okay, firstly, I totally want to see a book about Snow White and the Seven Dorks! I think you're right on, though--I absolutely agree that letting kids pick their own path is so important.