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Princess or Pioneer? How to Raise a Daughter Like Meghan Markle

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Dr. Meg Meeker

This Saturday, famous British bachelor Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle will marry in a televised ceremony at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle in England. Millions of people around the world will watch as an American gets to experience what so many little girls dream of becoming: a real-life princess. (Officially, she will be a duchess, but she will look just like a princess to us.)

Parents, if your daughter will be watching the royal wedding this Saturday, she will probably be mesmerized by the dresses, hats, and fanfare. She will wonder what it would be like to be a princess herself, living in a castle with her prince charming. What I like about this weekend’s royal wedding is that Markle is a wonderful example of a true, modern-day princess who represents much more than a castle, a prince charming and a ball gown.

Markle has a reputation for being a strong woman who has used her platform to speak on issues of women’s rights and social justice. Both she and the prince have already proven to be humanitarians who will no doubt support positive change in England and elsewhere in the world.

Markle might have a princess title, but make no mistake, she is a pioneer.

A girlfriend of mine quipped that there are two types of women in the world: princesses and pioneer women. Princesses believe they deserve a better life and expect others to serve them. Pioneer women expect that any improvement in their lives will come through their own hard work. Whenever we teach our daughters that they deserve “all the best life has to offer,” we help create princesses. But princesses are often depressed because they might not ever get the best that life has to offer. Or, what they think is the best life could offer them.

Do your daughter a favor. Teach her to be a pioneer, not a princess.

The damage comes when a loving parent indulges his daughter to the point that she expects always to be on the receiving end, and that all her material, physical and emotional needs will be met by someone else. But this will result in a co-dependent daughter, rather than a strong one.

Try this. The next time your daughter is in distress about something, instead of doing whatever she asks of you, ask her this question: “What can you do about it?” This will teach her not to be a victim and instead, take action in her own life. This will teach her to be a pioneer who moves forward into the unknown even though it’s scary instead of a princess who stays safely locked up in her castle. Teach your daughter she has agency, and she doesn’t need a prince charming to save her first.

This will require grit and pragmatism—two essential characteristics all daughters need to learn from you. She needs you to teach her to work hard and how to work herself out of a problem. If your daughter leaves your house equipped with pragmatism and grit, you can rest assured that she will go far in life.

If your daughter leaves your house equipped with pragmatism and grit, you can rest assured that she will go far in life.

I hope you will get to tune into the royal wedding on Saturday, and I hope that your little girl can twirl in her “princess dress” all that she wants. But remember, daughters are more than princesses. They are pioneers. Treat them that way, and they will grow up to change the world.

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