At first glance, Raising a Modern Day Princess seems to be a Christian version of Toddlers and Tiaras, deceptively encouraging Christian parents to centre their lives on their children, namely their daughters.
Does the book wrongly teach parents to raise their children to be the centre of the home rather than Christ, and encourage the dangers of self-idolatry? Does the book promote the Disney-like view of girls, implying their self-worth rests on external beauty and on a prince coming to rescue them from royal boredom?
The answer seems to be both yes and no.
A father’s blessing
Every girl longs to be valued, cherished, and encouraged. Raising a Modern-Day Princess focuses on the importance of a father or father figure publicly blessing a young girl on the verge of becoming a woman.
Every man needs to experience the joy of blessing others, starting with his own children. That act in itself is true leadership, true heroism, and true Christian love. Our heavenly Father demonstrated this when he blessed his own son publicly: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 17:5). When someone blesses you and believes in you, you are, in a sense, commissioned to be what you were created to be.
Beyond the public act of affirmation, there’s something powerful in a father giving the blessing. Sadly, males today have been degraded through the media, to the point that many men feel inadequate in their roles and afraid to bless their children, whether by daily investment or a simple commendation of a job well done. Too often, fathers are quick to criticize themselves, and as a result, their own children and families.
The authors list many examples of men who were at first reluctant to speak a public blessing on their daughters, but after some careful consideration, stepped forward. The fathers later said it was the most amazing experience, one that changed their relationship with their daughters forever.
Stories of girls who had no fathers present in their life, but instead had another male relative or a friend of the family stand in to give a public blessing were particularly moving. These girls and the men who blessed them said the experience seemed to release new hope, new joy, and new celebration of life.
Morning, noon, and night involvement
The MB Confession of Faith calls parents to nurture their children in the faith because they are a blessing (Psalm 127:3–5). “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts,” God commands all people through Moses in Deuteronomy 6:5–7. And to parents, the instruction continues: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” This requires morning, noon, and night involvement over the long haul. Loving and living for God is a daily sacrifice of modeling from parents to children, not merely a one time rite-of-passage blessing ceremony.
What I had hoped for in the book was more long-term strategy for raising a daughter in Christ and less focus on a one-time “princess” event. A single ceremony cannot really create what I prefer to call a “daughter of the King.” The event does sound intriguing and – dare I say – “magical,” yet, I fear that encouraging girls to be princesses is dangerous in our self-absorbed culture. I wish the authors had either recognized this or clarified the difference between a young woman devoted to Christ (which may indeed mean penniless) and a worldly well-to-do princess. Rather, they seem to play into the American fascination with Disney princesses and could perhaps wrongly paint the picture that following Christ always means fame and fortune.
I truly wished they had used a different term than princess and cut out the crowning of a young woman of age with a tiara. The use of a tiara seems to fail to remember the crown of thorns Christ wore for us.
Written by two women, Raising a Modern-Day Princess is geared for mothers and mentors of girls who would have the role of planning and coordinating a rite-of-passage ceremony and who would have the responsibility of recruiting fathers and father figures to give a public blessing to their daughters. The task may sound difficult, but the personal letters and stories from those who successfully arranged such an event are evidence of the deep impact it can have on young women and their families.
The book would be more accurately titled Blessing Your Daughter: A Rite-of-Passage Ceremony for a Young Teen Girl. In the end, the book inspired me to think further on how we can assist parents, especially fathers, in their roles of encouraging and blessing their children.