Do We Have a Princess Perception Problem In the Church?


I read an interesting article that a friend had sent to me this week.  I have had several conversations with those I trust, regarding an observation that I believe is influencing girls ministry and the future of women’s ministry. I realize that in even beginning this conversation that I will receive some flack, but this is just something that I want us to talk about.

So without further ado, I will just stop beating around the bush.  I’m concerned with the unbalanced perspective that the church and home is presenting to our daughters regarding their identity in Christ.  I’m concerned that we have for so long been concerned with the self-esteem of girls that we have told them they are princesses of the King without sharing the big picture.  I have heard this message taught over and over again but the world is telling them they are princesses as well and I don’t think we are helping our daughters understand the difference.  In fact, the way I have seen some churches and resources talk to girls about their identity in Christ has been heavily presented as a Princess in a very Disney like manner.  I have been to girls conferences where every girl was given a tiara and a scepter at the end of the conference.  Really?  That seems to fly in the face of Philippians 2 where we are told to be like minded with Christ.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

I am concerned that we are focusing so much on helping girls know their value that we end up giving them plastic tiaras and scepters and manicures all in the name of Christ.  but is it possible that we are only creating some princess perception problems that are growing into narcissism and entitlement among our girls?  Why aren’t we seeing more resources for girls being written on “following our shepherd”  or “knowing our potter”.  Do a quick search of some of the publishing companies and resources for churches and you will quickly find items for sale like: God’s little princess feathered Boa and The Princess Bible.

Here’s what I’m not saying:  I’m not saying that it isn’t important for girls who have accepted Christ into their lives to hear that they are daughters of The King of Kings.  But perhaps they should be finding out more about The King and His character and less about the plastic tiara they think He would put on her.  Perhaps our daughters should hear more about these verses:

1 Corinthians 6:20   ( not your own. you were bought with a price)
Colossians 3:3 (you died and your life is hidden with Christ)
Phil. 1:6 (God will complete the good work He started in me)
Ephesians 1:5 (I am adopted as His Child)
Ephesians 2:10 (We are God’s workmanship created in christ Jesus to do good works…)
Ephesians 2:19 (we are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household)
Ephesians 3:12 (We may approach God with freedom and confidence)
Ephesians 2:22 (I am a dwelling in which God lives)
Gal. 2:20 (I am crucified with Christ)
2 Cor. 5:17 ( I am a new creation)
Romans 8:2 (set free from sin)

If Esther were not a princess would we quote: For such a time as this…quite as much? What if Rahab were a princess or Dorcas or Deborah—would our daughters be able to know their stories more?  All I am suggesting, is that we may be presenting only part of the story to our daughters.  And because of it, they may be developing a bit of a “I-sight” problem.

It appears that this is happening in the secular world too so I wonder if this is where a little of the infiltration is coming from.

Read this excerpt from:

Princess pedestal: How many girls are on one?

All the pink, frilly and sparkly — from the princess dresses to the four-foot-high pink castle in the playroom — isn’t necessarily what Caroline Morris would choose for her eldest daughter.

She doesn’t want to stop her 6-year-old from being who she is. But as princess fever has reached a new high with this generation of girls, she and other parents are feeling the urge to rein in the would-be reigning ones, just a little.

That’s especially true in tough economic times, when more parents are focusing on messages of frugality and humility that, they say, just don’t fit with the princess mentality that has become a rite of passage for many girls.

Morris knows, of course, that some parents think such worries are ridiculous.

“But what happens when our daughters get to adulthood and they realize that the world isn’t a fairy tale?” asks Morris, who lives in suburban Atlanta and insists she doesn’t mind imaginative play. She just wants her girls to strive for something beyond being “pretty and glamorous.”

The debate has been around for a long time, says Dr. Ken Haller, a pediatrician at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis. But as princess paraphernalia becomes all but unavoidable, he says he’s seeing more parents struggling with it and “questioning whether the princess message is a good thing.”

These days, that message begins practically at birth with everything from princess baby shirts and “her royal highness” bibs to princess-themed photo albums and picture frames for baby girls. By the time those girls are toddlers, many are drawn to the princess dresses, glittery crowns and even makeup.

And it goes on and on. Barbie has many princess-oriented items, including a top-selling “Princess and the Pauper” DVD. Even seemingly tougher girls like Dora the Explorer occasionally don crowns, too. And then, of course, there’s the undisputed leader in all things princess: The Walt Disney Co.

In 2000, Disney began grouping several of its female movie characters together as the “Disney Princesses” — from “Sleeping Beauty” to the more recent “Mulan.” Since then, executives there say that part the entertainment mogul’s business has grown from $300 million that first year to an anticipated $4 billion internationally this year. And at the end of the year, they will debut an African-American princess, Tiana, and the movie “The Princess and the Frog.”

All of it, Haller says, constitutes a brilliant marketing move that targets a normal stage of child development. By age 3, kids are beginning to define themselves, both with gender and as individuals. They’re also big-time into fantasy play, which for boys, often manifests itself in super heroes.

But somehow, the princess phenomenon has become way more loaded.

“It just encourages parents who put their kids on a pedestal — and who encourage their kids a lot and rarely criticize,” says Jean Twenge, an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State who’s done research on the way parenting affects children. “You could label that kind of parenting ‘princess parenting.'”

Twenge, who is herself the mom of a young daughter, talks about some of this in her new book “The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.”

Among other things, she and co-author W. Keith Campbell found the rate that college-age women were developing narcissistic traits was four times that of men, when analyzing surveys taken from 2002 through 2007.

For the rest of the article, click this link.

As I have been pondering this, praying about how we address this with our girls ministry, and continuing to have dialogue with others who influence girls ministry and/or have daughters in their home, I wrote out the introduction to a “private” document that I write on every once in awhile.  The working title is: “Tossing my tiara—a lesson in leaving entitlement behind.”

Here is a snippet discussing where I believe the root of this princess syndrome begins for all of us:

She kneels on the ground with a half-eaten apple only inches from her hand.  She made a choice.  She chose the fruit.  She discovered shame instead of power.  Her paradise has ended.  Their maker has made provisions for them but everything has changed.  She stares into the night sky and wonders what she has done.  The battle for “More” has begun.  The battle for “entitlement” started.  It’s now in our blood.  It’s now in our story.  We have painted pictures of who we are in Christ to our daughters with bedazzled tiaras and beautiful scepters claiming this speaks to the value and significance of WHOSE we are, but do our daughters see His Kingdom as it is supposed to be or have we just planted seeds in their heart that will grow into The Privileged Tree?

May we continue to share with our daughters, that they are daughters of a King…but may we also help them to realize that the crown looks different than disney’s.  May they not grow up to ask a mirror on the wall whose the fairest of them all, but may they reflect their very Creator-Father-Shepherd-King to a world that needs to know Him.

Psalm 103:4
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

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5 thoughts on “ Do We Have a Princess Perception Problem In the Church?

  1. Hey Amy-Jo,

    Thanks so much for this post. I couldn’t agree more. It’s funny that you mention entitlement, the Lord has taken my husband and I on a year long journey into the world of understanding what entitlement looks like, how it displays its ugly head and how it acts to hurt those around you! Haha, although even as I write this I realize I can seem double minded … the two discipleship based studies that the Lord has lead me to write for girls (that we have used in my ministry here) are called “Undercover Princess” and “Learning to Walk in Glass Slippers” … so it may seem like I am joining the bandwagon with the “encouraging entitlement …” but it’s actually quite the opposite. In fact, what really prompted me to leave a comment here was your thought:
    “Why aren’t we seeing more resources for girls being written on “following our shepherd” or “knowing our potter”. Do a quick search of some of the publishing companies and resources for churches and you will quickly find items for sale like: God’s little princess feathered Boa and The Princess Bible.”

    Because those were my thoughts EXACTLY. The second study (learning to walk in glass slippers) is an eight week study digging deep into our progressive relationship with Christ as it is spelled out in scripture … starting with Potter to Clay, then Sheep to Shepherd, then Servant to Master, than Father to Daughter, than Friend to Friend and ending with Bride to Bridegroom. I wrote it because my heart was heavy that my girls know WHOSE they are and that EVERY single need they have … CHRIST created them with, with the intention of filling to overflowing each and every need.

    At our very core, we have a basic and desperate need to know we can trust Jesus, really, truly, trust Him … HE IS OUR POTTER! Oh, it is so rich … if we will simply sit still and trust him, allow him to change our circumstances, our friends, our comforts … he will prove Himself to be all we hoped He would be, all that He says He is … all the while teaching us to TRUST Him, to sit still and let GOD be GOD in our lives AND allowing us to experience all the Best of Life HE created us to experience! Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exulted in the earth.”

    I firmly believe that God spells out a PROGRESSIVE relationship with us for a reason! I think maybe we should start with Potter to Clay instead of Father to Daughter … At the level of Clay, all of our questions have to do with self preservation! “Hey, stop that, why are you pushing me in that area! That hurts, let go! Don’t take that area away, you don’t know what I want!” All of these questions are asked on a basic level of distrust … based on an “I know better than YOU” attitude. I believe that the first thing we need to know in our relationship with Christ … is to learn to SIT STILL, SHUT OUR MOUTHS, and LET GOD DO WHATEVER HE WANTS. I mean, think about a potter trying to “mold” a rock –a hardened piece of clay. It’s not gonna happen! Vulnerability and trust are the hardest parts of relationship, but I would dare to say that they are the most vital and are the very starting point of a TRUE, AUTHENTIC relationship.

    So, is it true that we are daughters of Christ? Yes! The GREAT danger is when we teach our leaders to teach our girls … or simply teach our girls ourselves.. that it stops there! Handing them a crown and sending them on their way is pretty lazy on our part and truly does leave them with the sense of entitlement … instead of leaving them with the sense of awe and wonder that what was once poor, broken and condemned has been made whole, pure, rich with every blessing in Christ Jesus (eph 1:3), forgiven and free from all condemnation. THIS kind of truth produces the humility filled confidence that comes through identity in Christ … instead of a false sense of entitlement. THIS kind of truth requires a FOLLOW UP … further discipleship! Like “now that I am in this new life in Christ, how do I reflect the identity I have been given!” Which is where we are to come in! Giving our students a sense of entitlement lets us off the hook from further discipleship and points our students towards themselves not Christ. So, do I agree that teaching them that they are Princesses and leaving it at that is a dangerous path to tread … you better believe it!

    “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses it’s saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
    Matthew 5:13

    We must be careful not to teach our girls to lead “entitled: You owe me, because I am awesome” lives. Otherwise we are teaching them to be salt-less salt … and, if we are gut-level honest, we are then mishandling the very character of Christ.

    Thanks for the good word Amy-Jo … and thanks for letting me yammer for a minute. 😉

    Grace and peace,
    Kristen Carr

  2. Kristen,
    Thanks for your thoughts! It’s so good to hear that I’m not alone in this idea. I love your concept of teaching girls about being lumps of clay first. Amazing! Hope your summer is going well.

  3. Amy Jo this is awesome. I had felt that sense of entitlement as a youth and when i went thru the Acteens program. I think Acteens has the right concept in teaching girls the lessons of being humble and serving others thru missions but even there i recieved the sceptor and crown and was taught that i should act as a princess because i am one. I do believe christian girls should act as such, women that God created to worship Him and tell others about Him. When i think about the ultimate christian woman i think of proverbs 31 where it describes the christian wife/mother/sister/woman. thanks for the insight. 🙂

  4. Thanks Mindy! 🙂

    I do believe christian girls should act as such, women that God created to worship Him and tell others about Him. When i think about the ultimate christian woman i think of proverbs 31 where it describes the christian wife/mother/sister/woman.

    Completely agree!