Could you recommend a type of preschool for our feminist, vegan family? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 02-25-2012, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm editing most of my posts that contain personal information;  thanks for the responses to this one!

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#2 of 32 Old 02-25-2012, 08:44 AM
 
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I know Waldorf schools discourage most all forms of media for young children, including generic characters on clothing. Your child will hear a bit about princesses through some of the fairy tales though. I have no idea about other families whom attend being vegan though.


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#3 of 32 Old 02-25-2012, 09:01 AM
 
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The right preschool for a child depends on WHO that child is. Since she's not born yet, you just don't know what will be the right fit for her. Waldorf is has some lovely ideas but you may end up with a child who is very academic in nature and that is not supported in the early years of Waldorf. Montessori works wonders for some kids but my own wouldn't have been happy there based on their personalities. We ended up in local play-based preschools with a focus on nature and that spoke to our children as individuals. We are vegetarian which is a bit easier than vegans but it really was never an issue... then again, mine only ever went a few mornings a week... they didn't have meals at school.

 

The "princess thing" has more to do with the individuals personality than anything. I've seen girls raised to be princesses want to be wrestlers. I've seen girls raised with sports and mud pies want nothing more than a pretty dress. Personally, I started trying  to raise my DD with gender neutral environment. Believe me, I do know where you are coming from. I thought I was quite the success as DD LOVED playing with cars more than anything! Then I actually paid attention to how she was playing and sure enough, she had a mommy car, daddy car and baby car off on a picnic.... typical girl play. I left her to her own devices at that point and we found she ended up pretty balanced. She liked some dolls, liked some trains, liked a pretty dress on holidays, preferred denim overalls for daily play. She has never been a slave to fashion, to pop-culture trends. She's won the presidential fitness award multiple times... often being the only girl. She's strong, smart, confident, interested in boys but very open about not being ready for a boyfriend yet (she's 15.) She rock climbs, distance runs... also dances,sings and is loves going shopping. She is just who she is despite any plans I could have made for her.

 

There is a difference between raising your DD with real choices about who she can be and raising her in just another set of predetermined constraints... they might be different from societal norms but they are limitations just the same. If you expose them to depth and quality, much of pop-culture will seem pretty shallow. Certainly, if there is something you can't abide by, like Bratz dolls, don't allow them. However, if Pinkalicious takes over her soul for a couple years lol, just read her the books, let her wear nothing but pink and know that at least she's doing something that she has chosen for herself.

 

Please know this isn't a slam on you! I really do know where you are coming from. I'm just passing on what I learned during my own journey raising an amazing girl. When you have a boy, let me know, I'll share my revelations on toy guns lol. 

 

 

 


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#4 of 32 Old 02-25-2012, 02:45 PM
 
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A lot of that really depends on the kids who go to the school. I prefer the free play based schools where kids learn through play rather than boxed activities that have a right and wrong way to do them. Our university had a wonderful program that was free of a lot if the stereotyping that goes on in some daycares. The kids came in with many ideas but the teavhers did a great job of making a greay job of gently redirecting the kids away frim prejudice of any sort, including sexism. The Montessori programs in our area have a very rigid set of activities kids are allowed to do, dress up not being in that set of offerings, so if you are truly focused on no princess play a setting like this for your family. The kids aren't in boxes though si their ideas are shared with each other as they move around and that is how many kids learn about princess play, current movies, junk food, etc...

You really do have a long time to decide on these things and you may really just not care about the princess issue once your DD is that age. I had a strong aversion to princess stuff, Disney, and Barbie when my DD was very little but I got over it when I realized that I had a bigger impact than the princess stuffl, not having TV helps a lot more than not having princess costumes and Barbie dolls in our family.
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#5 of 32 Old 02-26-2012, 07:39 AM
 
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I very much agree with whatsnextmom. It depends on who your child is. And if you raise your child without gender stereotypes, while accepting her personality and nature, you won't need to be scared of Disney princesses and Brattz. Draw personal boundaries if you have to, but if your family life is guided by your values, pop culture stuff will flit on and off her horizon without becoming toxic. My girls are now 9, 13 and 18. The older two occasionally wear a little bit of make-up and the younger two take an interest in their clothing -- which is always, IMO, very appropriate. They're not into pop culture. The only line I ever drew was to say that I would not spend my money on licensed products. The rest was just gentle guidance and leading by example. I haven't found the need to shelter them from mainstream influences -- although I have tried to create a family culture of a relatively TV-free life.

 

With my first dd we had the choice of a play-based preschool or a Waldorf-inspired co-op. My dd was very academic (reading at 3, etc.) and was taking violin lessons as a preschooler. We didn't feel the Waldorf situation was supportive of who she was and how she liked to spend her time. The play-based preschool turned out not to be right for her either because she found the large-group free play stressful due to the capricious behaviour of her (quite normal, rambunctious) age-mates. She went for a while but eventually preferred not to attend school at all. That's not what I would ever have imagined back before we had children, or when she was a baby or toddler. But I observed her as a 3- and 4-year-old, what her needs and affinities were, and responded accordingly.

 

For what it's worth, the very ordinary small-town play-based preschool she attended never had anything for snack that was not vegan. They served mostly popcorn with nutritional yeast, fresh cut vegetables, tree nuts and fresh or dried fruit. I don't think they were making any effort to be vegan: they certainly never mentioned anything of the sort. They did stay away from dairy, gluten and peanuts because of potential food sensitivities. But the main idea was just to provide standard healthy food for kids. 

 

Miranda

 

 


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#6 of 32 Old 02-26-2012, 12:00 PM
 
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hmm I am in two minds. I think on the one hand, the single best thing you can do is to be confident in your own parenting and listen to your daughter and what she needs. Of course. And I do agree that if that is the case then pop culture will be of much less importance.

 

What I do think though is that if you send her to a school that conflicts with your ideals, there is a good chance that certain things for her will become normalised, things that you don't agree with, and while your influence will count for a lot, you might have to quite actively promote it. Which, tbh, can get tiring-I really don't like to be in conflict with the people who look after my kids for 8 hours a week, I just don't think its healthy for then. We have at times have had to fight a fairly assertive battle for our kids, who have all been through Waldorf preschool, over certain ideas about gender (while waldorf does discourage branding it is quite insanely, regressively, gendered and it has a fairly earnt reputation as a philosophy that is hard to question). We had certainly had to pick our battles more than if we had kept them at home. As homeschoolers this was pretty much our only part time to 7, holistic, childcare option, and as such it was a bit of a nucleation point for all the local alternative types, but tbh had there been a more progressive place I would most certainly have gone for it, there are a lot of unspoken assumptions about gender that just have me, with my 8 year old who still likes his frilly shirts, banging my head against a wall. When he turned up as a late starting nearly 6 year old with pink slippers with bells on, the other children were not, shall we say, kind.

 

The issue isn't really the school and how it teaches. Very few schools nowadays teach that boys are better than girls or anything, it is the other parents and children it attracts that could be the problem if you are concerned about gender ideas. As far as teaching is concerned, I think what you need to look at is what teachers consider to be a problem, what behaviour they consider to be normal. 

 

I do actually believe that an awful lot of gender is constructed, and that winds me up because I want my kids to be who THEY are, x or y first and foremost, not a boy or a girl. 

 

There isn't one pedagogy that will meet the needs you mention. You need to meet with the teachers and decide for yourself. 


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#7 of 32 Old 02-26-2012, 11:04 PM
 
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I think it's good to wait until you know who your daughter is. She might hate a martial arts preschool, or love it! Alas, much as I tried, I couldn't get my dd to love soccer. Nor could I get ds to play a musical instrument. Those were my ideals, not theirs.

 

When you're looking consider play-based preschools, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf and whatever else you can find. The only kind of preschool that I would actively not recommend is one that is academically focused to the exclusion of play. Actually, any school  that focuses only on one area to the exclusion of others is not good. Personally, I really like the Reggio Emilia philosophy (I'm not a Waldorf person) as it's child directed, exploratory and really works who the children are into their curriculum, as it's an emergent (rather than pre-set) curriculum.

 

Just a gentle query: What are you going to do if your daughter loves ballet? Be careful that your feminist ideals don't mean "anti-feminine". It's possible to love dressing up in Little House in the Prairie costumes and give a rousing speech on the injustices of not allowing women in the 19th centure to vote. I know as my daughter does this all the time!


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#8 of 32 Old 02-27-2012, 03:37 AM
 
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Hi!

 

Well, Im the feminist mama of a boy, so this is importnt to m as well. 

He went to a Waldorf school last year, and while I did love some things, I feel there is a lot of gender stereotyping at Waldorf. The fairy tales, some are wonderful but I often encountered things like princesess in serious distress, only saved by someone else, or characters described as > beautiful and kind> while others were > ugly, with dark charcoil skin and mean> 

I think that Montessori is more neutral in that aspect, since it doesn[t intervene with the children s  play.

But more than the pedagogy, it is very important to see who the teacher is, since these methods can be charming when you read about them but then the human being behind can be very gender biased.

 

Good luck!

 

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I like the Waldorf "style" of doing things, (I might lean a little more towards earlier academics) but I don't think a standard Waldorf school would work for a vegan. many of the crafts and toys/games involve wool & beeswax. I've looked myself to see if there is maybe soy-based modeling wax available, but I haven't found any. As far as food goes, I think that would be easy to work around, although I read somewhere on here that a lot of Waldorf families are into that diet that's all about butter? My kids have attended Montessori schools, which have been accommodating to me supplying most of what my kids eat, although there were a few slip-ups. They also appear to have seen a lot of Disney films there, which I find somewhat annoying, but that's probably more a factor of being in Kentucky rather than a reflection on Montessori schools, in general.
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#10 of 32 Old 02-27-2012, 07:01 AM
 
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I agree with pp that you will need to evaluate potential pre-schools based on the personality, preferences and needs of your child. You can't know what will be a good fit for your child before the child appears. 

 

If there are certain ideals or philosophies that you want to promote, I would start with finding a wider supportive community. If you aren't living somewhere with a significant population of vegans, it's going to be difficult to find a preschool that conforms to the principles of veganism. Similarly, feminism probably isn't going to be a priority in a place with really traditional, conventional attitudes. If you live in certain neighbourhoods, finding a preschool with a socio-economically diverse student population will be a challenge (as an example of an issue that our family faced). 

 

When you visit the pre-schools, it's helpful to have a list of questions to discuss with the administrators and teachers. Most parents ask about things like managing separation anxiety, amount of outdoor play, academics,  music or art instruction, etc. Definitely add any particular questions you have, eg. abiding by vegan principles and avoiding gender stereotypes. When you observe the classes, look for gender-neutral play. I wouldn't be surprised if there are Waldorf schools where the little girls pretend that they are the noble knights fending off the dragons, as well as the rainbow fairies. 

 

 

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#11 of 32 Old 02-27-2012, 08:04 AM
 
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I just add a bit on the vegan thing. You may not want to count on their ever being other vegans in any sort of preschool program. We're just vegetarians and we've only encountered 1 other full family of vegetarians in the school system... and we are in California and have been part of about 4 different schools now. We come across many vegetarian/vegan children and teens within the arts community but full families, nope. To find this, you may look for a community group in your area. Ours has a group that organized playdates, sets-up cooking classes, family functions, ect. We tried when the kids were small but I found it was pretty much for "new" vegetarians who were still in the "live and breath" our decision place. That's totally natural but I'd gone through that when my family turned vegetarian at the age of 9. Still, if you are looking for that sort of connection, check out special groups in your area. If there is one, you may also find good preschool recommendations for your specific area.

 

 


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#12 of 32 Old 02-27-2012, 08:51 PM
 
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My kids go to a Seventh Day Adventist school, which we are not. Only 20% of the school population are that religion. In our area, it is the crunchiest preschool around! Numerous vegetarian families (most of the church members tend to be vegetarian) some vegan here and there, we've had some raw families over the years, no artificial dye is a common request for classroom parties. There are no media, TV to worry about. Anyway, it isn't always the larger preschools or even a "brand name", Montessori, etc... that might be the best fit. As a atheist, I never in a billion years thought I would end up at a school like this, but we did, and it is our third year, the fit is just amazing for our family. 


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#13 of 32 Old 02-29-2012, 12:59 PM
 
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We go to a Reggio preschool in Los Angeles and it is wonderful. There are many vegetarians and a few vegans and the school has no problem with it. Oddly enought though, none of the kids are veg. Just parents.  Snack is provided but I've never seen anything that wasn't veg.. Lunch is packed.

 

You might also look for a philosophy that grows out of REI.
 

A few things that I like about our school that you can look for:

 

a reasonable gender balance between girls and boys

a good ratio of male teachers who work in the classroom- teachers at our school teach in teams of three and there is at least one male teacher in each classroom and the the DK classroom has a male teacher only

clothing and footwear policy is specific; no characters allowed because they tend to be disruptive and promote power plays

strong nutrition policy for home-packed lunches

schools does *not* participate in USDA program

play-based but with activities driven by student needs

some of the older kids have more gendered play but fancy dress up on boys is expected

good quality art program that produces original work rather than matchy-matchy nonesense

natural elements in all classrooms; classroom is rearranged frequently; schools choose natural materials in liue of plastic etc.

some sort of documentation so the parent gets a glimpse of what happense

strong outdoor spaces

birthdays not longer have treats (before it was unfrosted allergen free cake only) but instead the parent come in and the child is presented with a birthday present that the kids worked very hard on that represents something the kid likes

weekly meet-up before school with a couple of kids and a teacher at the farmer's market to buy snack goodies

male teacher's response to my four year old son's new purple and pink tennis shoes was to tell him how much he liked his new shoes i.e. the same thing he would say to brown

 

our schools doesn't have a media policy but it is pretty clear most of the kids have limited tv or none; the kids who watch a lot stick out like a sore thumb

 

In a traditional Waldorf preschool  many activities and toys are made with beeswax and wool... a lot. There will be many wool based activities that may include carding, spinning, dying, weaving, felting etc. Dolls will be stuffed with wool. Kids will have hand-knit wool. Wool underpants. Making beeswax candles. Beeswax based art supplies. etc. Some schools do leatherwork. Toys will be made of leather. Traditional fairy tales are important.

 

To me, Montessori is much more gender-nuetral.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

For what it's worth, the very ordinary small-town play-based preschool she attended never had anything for snack that was not vegan. They served mostly popcorn with nutritional yeast, fresh cut vegetables, tree nuts and fresh or dried fruit. I don't think they were making any effort to be vegan: they certainly never mentioned anything of the sort. They did stay away from dairy, gluten and peanuts because of potential food sensitivities. But the main idea was just to provide standard healthy food for kids. 

 

Miranda

 

 


Wow!  An ordinary small-town preschool serving popcorn with nutritional yeast!  Sign me up.  Or, rather, my kid.  Those snacks sound perfect.  Good to have the reminder that very basic-seeming preschools are still worth checking out.

 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

 

Just a gentle query: What are you going to do if your daughter loves ballet? Be careful that your feminist ideals don't mean "anti-feminine". It's possible to love dressing up in Little House in the Prairie costumes and give a rousing speech on the injustices of not allowing women in the 19th centure to vote. I know as my daughter does this all the time!


I don't dislike ballet, and I actively like the Little House on the Prairie books (not so much the show).  I feel that I sometimes have trouble explaining my ideals.  Often, when I say that I hate princesses, early or unhealthy sexualization, and/or pointless genderizing (like giving girls separate, pink Legos or Monopoly sets), people assume that I hate all things that girls have traditionally done, e.g. that I must hate dolls or ballet.  I don't.  I like dolls, ballet, tap, Little House on the Prairie, cooking and baking, etc.  I like them for both boys and girls.  I want to make sure I am clear, because if I am not clear to other adults, I definitely won't be to a child.  I feel there are specific values that princess worship (and especially the Disney princesses) embody, that I oppose.  These include elitism (monarchy), a focus on physical appearance, and a too-early focus on romance and marriage.  (Call me crazy, but I think age four is too young.)   Similar things can be said about dolls that are marketed to children as bratty and shallow.  I would also like, in general, for there to be more toys that boys and girls can play with together, pass down to each other, talk about together, etc.  That's why I hate separate "boy" and "girl" colored versions of the same thing.  Do you think my stances make sense?  I am asking honestly, because if not, I am going to need to try to refine them.

 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsSlocombe View Post

Do you think my stances make sense?  I am asking honestly, because if not, I am going to need to try to refine them.

 


Yes, I think they make sense. Of course, these are my stances too, so you're preaching to the choir with me. (Even though I have two nieces who are Disney princesses by profession. Seriously. One is Sleeping Beauty, the other Cinderella I think, on Disney Cruise Lines. They say they are living "every girl's dream." crap.gif shake.gif) Anyway, in speaking to people other than the choir I tend to speak about "wanting to avoid cultural stereotyping and early sexualization" rather than getting into the business of gender roles, which everyone has complex opinions about. 

 

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#17 of 32 Old 03-01-2012, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

I just add a bit on the vegan thing. You may not want to count on their ever being other vegans in any sort of preschool program. We're just vegetarians and we've only encountered 1 other full family of vegetarians in the school system... and we are in California and have been part of about 4 different schools now. We come across many vegetarian/vegan children and teens within the arts community but full families, nope. To find this, you may look for a community group in your area. Ours has a group that organized playdates, sets-up cooking classes, family functions, ect. We tried when the kids were small but I found it was pretty much for "new" vegetarians who were still in the "live and breath" our decision place. That's totally natural but I'd gone through that when my family turned vegetarian at the age of 9. Still, if you are looking for that sort of connection, check out special groups in your area. If there is one, you may also find good preschool recommendations for your specific area.

 

 

 

Thanks!  I know chances are slim, but I am trying to gather information now so that I can maximize the possibilities later.  I know a Mom of an 8-year-old who is even stricter about food than I am - they are mostly macrobiotic - and she manages to have her son 100% on board without any classmates sharing the same diet.  Still, the more support we can get, the better.  (We do have a good group in our area that organizes events for children a few times per year.  I should probably contact them for ideas.)
 

 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peony View Post

My kids go to a Seventh Day Adventist school, which we are not. Only 20% of the school population are that religion. In our area, it is the crunchiest preschool around! Numerous vegetarian families (most of the church members tend to be vegetarian) some vegan here and there, we've had some raw families over the years, no artificial dye is a common request for classroom parties. There are no media, TV to worry about. Anyway, it isn't always the larger preschools or even a "brand name", Montessori, etc... that might be the best fit. As a atheist, I never in a billion years thought I would end up at a school like this, but we did, and it is our third year, the fit is just amazing for our family. 


Interesting!  The SDA population is tiny (if it exists at all) around here, but I remember that they were my bright light when I lived in Alabama.  They ran the store that was my main source for vegan specialty foods, and had a good little restaurant for the short amount of time they were able to keep it open.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JudiAU View Post

We go to a Reggio preschool in Los Angeles and it is wonderful. There are many vegetarians and a few vegans and the school has no problem with it. Oddly enought though, none of the kids are veg. Just parents.  Snack is provided but I've never seen anything that wasn't veg.. Lunch is packed.

 

You might also look for a philosophy that grows out of REI.
 

A few things that I like about our school that you can look for:

 

a reasonable gender balance between girls and boys

a good ratio of male teachers who work in the classroom- teachers at our school teach in teams of three and there is at least one male teacher in each classroom and the the DK classroom has a male teacher only

clothing and footwear policy is specific; no characters allowed because they tend to be disruptive and promote power plays

strong nutrition policy for home-packed lunches

schools does *not* participate in USDA program

play-based but with activities driven by student needs

some of the older kids have more gendered play but fancy dress up on boys is expected

good quality art program that produces original work rather than matchy-matchy nonesense

natural elements in all classrooms; classroom is rearranged frequently; schools choose natural materials in liue of plastic etc.

some sort of documentation so the parent gets a glimpse of what happense

strong outdoor spaces

birthdays not longer have treats (before it was unfrosted allergen free cake only) but instead the parent come in and the child is presented with a birthday present that the kids worked very hard on that represents something the kid likes

weekly meet-up before school with a couple of kids and a teacher at the farmer's market to buy snack goodies

male teacher's response to my four year old son's new purple and pink tennis shoes was to tell him how much he liked his new shoes i.e. the same thing he would say to brown

 

our schools doesn't have a media policy but it is pretty clear most of the kids have limited tv or none; the kids who watch a lot stick out like a sore thumb

 

In a traditional Waldorf preschool  many activities and toys are made with beeswax and wool... a lot. There will be many wool based activities that may include carding, spinning, dying, weaving, felting etc. Dolls will be stuffed with wool. Kids will have hand-knit wool. Wool underpants. Making beeswax candles. Beeswax based art supplies. etc. Some schools do leatherwork. Toys will be made of leather. Traditional fairy tales are important.

 

To me, Montessori is much more gender-nuetral.


Thanks for the detailed information!  That sounds awesome.  I love the no-characters policy, and the nature-themed elements.  I will definitely look into REI.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post


Yes, I think they make sense. Of course, these are my stances too, so you're preaching to the choir with me. (Even though I have two nieces who are Disney princesses by profession. Seriously. One is Sleeping Beauty, the other Cinderella I think, on Disney Cruise Lines. They say they are living "every girl's dream." crap.gif shake.gif) Anyway, in speaking to people other than the choir I tend to speak about "wanting to avoid cultural stereotyping and early sexualization" rather than getting into the business of gender roles, which everyone has complex opinions about. 

 

Miranda



Oh, I'm glad.  Having to be so clear about my policy is new to me, since this is my first (and probably only) child.  Thanks for the advice about wording, too.  That makes sense and would cover most of what I'm going for.

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#19 of 32 Old 03-01-2012, 03:31 PM
 
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Do you think my stances make sense?  I am asking honestly, because if not, I am going to need to try to refine them.

 

It makes perfect sense to me. But I think you need a way to say it that's not "I don't want Disney princesses/Bratz influence". I think moominmamma had some good ideas for wording it "I'm trying to avoid stereotypes and early sexualization" is less likely to have you be misunderstood. It's also really hard to argue against!

 

From your original post, I wasn't sure how you felt about ballet, sparkles and Little House. There's a difference between saying "I don't want my daughter to dress in pink sparkles" and saying "I don't want my daughter to think the only kind of clothing she can wear is pink sparkles". I'd add to that "I want my son to think that he can wear pink sparkles too." I actually find gender stereotyping for boys much harder to overcome as it's so pervasive. You can find girls' clothes in blue and black. I can find very few boys' clothes in anything other than primary colors, with a heavy focus on blue, black and red. I had to tell more than one girl that it was OK for ds to wear a Dora the Explorer t-shirt (he was THREE, for heaven's sake!).

 

But back on topic. While your child is in preschool, especially, you'll have a lot of control over the media influences in your kids' lives. You can choose whether to do TV or not. You can control the kind of preschool you choose (or whether you even choose preschool) to make sure it matches your values. And if some well-meaning relative or friend gives you a Disney princess something, odds are that your daughter will either use it for more open-ended play (because she won't have seen the movies/tv shows) or she'll ignore it. Dd has gotten a couple of Disney princess things that were very lightly used because she'd never seen the movies and they didn't have any play value. She got one Barbie that she gave away because she never played with it. We've never gotten any Bratz, thankfully.

 

And once you set the stage with strong values and lots of options when they're young, then you're just going to have to have faith in your parenting and on-going discussions with your child as they grow. At some point in time you won't be able to control their media or their environment so much. But it's OK, your values will still come through, sometimes in ways you might never expect. Kids who are wearing sexy clothing at 9 and talking about dieting to be 'thin', didn't come up with those ideas on their own. They saw those ideas and then they were supported by something they experienced within the family. Kids learn a lot more from what their parents and people close to them do, than they do from a single show or a single toy.


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#20 of 32 Old 03-01-2012, 04:12 PM
 
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I don't dislike ballet, and I actively like the Little House on the Prairie books (not so much the show).  I feel that I sometimes have trouble explaining my ideals.  Often, when I say that I hate princesses, early or unhealthy sexualization, and/or pointless genderizing (like giving girls separate, pink Legos or Monopoly sets), people assume that I hate all things that girls have traditionally done, e.g. that I must hate dolls or ballet.  I don't.  I like dolls, ballet, tap, Little House on the Prairie, cooking and baking, etc.  I like them for both boys and girls.  I want to make sure I am clear, because if I am not clear to other adults, I definitely won't be to a child.  I feel there are specific values that princess worship (and especially the Disney princesses) embody, that I oppose.  These include elitism (monarchy), a focus on physical appearance, and a too-early focus on romance and marriage.  (Call me crazy, but I think age four is too young.)   Similar things can be said about dolls that are marketed to children as bratty and shallow.  I would also like, in general, for there to be more toys that boys and girls can play with together, pass down to each other, talk about together, etc.  That's why I hate separate "boy" and "girl" colored versions of the same thing.  Do you think my stances make sense?  I am asking honestly, because if not, I am going to need to try to refine them.

 


I understand your stances. I used to be more hard core on them myself but I found I had little to actually fear. Sure, Aurora from "Sleeping Beauty" is pretty passive. Snow White, Cinderella... pretty bland. Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" is quite a brave young woman who sacrifices for her father, is not fooled by Gaston's handsome looks, and recognizes kindness in others despite appearances and 1st impressions. Jasmine from "Aladdin" has a backbone and demands a partner who is actually worthy of her despite societal expectations. Mulan doesn't fit female stereotypes in her community at all and ends up saving the day with her wits. Jane from Tarzan is not a princess but she's a scientist out to explore the world at a time when women did not do such things. Pocahontas, Rapunzel... not without some redeeming qualities. 

 

I'm not saying to give up your ideals. I'm just reassuring you that exposure isn't enough to pull your child away from the ideals they learn at home. If you teach in an honest, educated, rational fashion, your kids will really see when something is cool because it's "well-advertised to a target audience" and when something is of true value and something they personally enjoy. That's what my parents did and my brother and I were very selective in what pop-culture items we invested in (yes, I will admit to owning the Thriller CD but my Sondheim collection was much bigger lol.) My kids are the same. DD 15 loved Harry Potter though certainly, a pop-culture phenomena but thought Twilight was total drivel. She was obsessed with Renoir paintings when other girls were into Polly Pockets. DS 11 loves Star Wars but he also loves reading Sherlock Holmes. They have been taught to think and so I don't really worry about exposure. 

 


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I don't dislike ballet, and I actively like the Little House on the Prairie books (not so much the show). ......  I want to make sure I am clear, because if I am not clear to other adults, I definitely won't be to a child...... I would also like, in general, for there to be more toys that boys and girls can play with together, pass down to each other, talk about together, etc.

 


 

much of what you say makes perfect sense to me and I felt very much the same way. When my children were small, we would do things like buy a dolly and a dump truck. We never saw one as better than the other, or one as a girl toy and the other as a boy toy.

 

Both my children are girls, and we have a Lego collection that is the envy of every boy who sees it (and none of the legos are pink). Both my DDs are now teens and not tied into gender stereotypes. Yet they both have moments when they like to dress to the 9s and do their hair and make up. It's all good -- it's all fun.

 

I've read aloud to them a great deal, and when they were young, they told ME they didn't like the Little House series because they are all about the time when women had no power, parent hit their children, and whites considered themselves better than the Native Americans. They also through the religious stuff was nuts. We ended up ditching the series after the 2nd book.  I also tried reading Little Women to them, and it was a total bust. Jo is a snotty little brat in the book -- she's so much more reasonable in the movie.

 

We've done better with more recently written books because they have stronger female characters. Harry Potter, for example, has GREAT female characters.

 

Anyway, when a child is small, a parent has total control over TV, movies, books, and music. That goes away as they get older. We avoided that icky stuff when they kids were little, and when we couldn't avoid it anymore, it wasn't that big of a deal. The kids were grounded in something more solid that Disney, so discovering Disney couldn't screw them up.

 

My children attend a progressive school with lots of hands on learning. There is an animal center with goats and chickens, a green house, a shop area (where one of my DDs learned to weld), and art center with pottery wheels and a kiln, etc. They have an outdoor skills program and the children go backpacking, fishing, camping, hiking, exploring in caves, etc. Children are allowed to dress pretty much anyway they want, and if a child wanted to come to school dressed as a Disney princess no one would stop them. None the less, they spend their day DOING things and learning they are competent, which, to me, is important than what they wear. (the school is also academic - one of my kids is totally into her Latin class, the other enjoys classic literature.)

 

(personally, I think that in the long run, forbidding things like Barbie and Disney does more harm than good, turning them into forbidden fruit. We avoided as long as possible, and then just down played.)

 

About half the teachers and students are vegetarian, and there is always a vegetarian options at dinners, field trips, etc. One of my DDs is currently in a cooking class, and there is always an option to make the dish vegetarian, though not necessarily vegan. An unwillingness to eat meat OR cheese could be problematic. Most kids eat cheese. Few children eat beans. shrug.gif

 

 

BUT -- I don't think you can pick a school for a child without knowing the child. I love my kids' school. It's amazing. I feel lucky and blessed. But I have at times questioned if it was the best option for one of my children. For my other child, it's a perfect fit.

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#22 of 32 Old 03-07-2012, 05:44 PM
 
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As a feminist who loves all vegan food dishes as well as their meat conterparts raising 2 girls and a sahmom for several years,
I see your point.

The good news, if your children are interested in it, they will find it and go at it. My older daughter who is extremely girly girl, loved Trains. We would go in the Thomas store and she would play if allowed for hours. Her table of trains was so cool to all her boy-friends. Of course she also had a rack of costumes which included fire fighter, policeman, tutu, pinky dresses, some disney princess, wedgie shoes, a tool belt so our playdates were a blast.

But we were into having all types of toys. The boys loved playing in our wooden kitchen, maybe because they didnt have one. DD2 was not crazy about the thomas trains, so we ended up giving them to a family who didnt have money for xmas that year and this was the gift to their small boys.

 

I try not to do the princess free because princess comes into your house and is out just as fast and not worth worrying how its going to damage your feminist principals. My oldest likes the whole princess thing in history. She is into reading about different women in history from around the world. One book she read last month was about a princess from India. I didnt think anything of it until we were at an Indian restrnt and dd ordered something she saw because the princess spoke about it in her book and she was curious. I feel the same way about dodging princess I do about the Dad in one of the classes telling his boy not to play in the kitchen or the dollhouse at the class. Let the kids figure out himself if he wants that. Another boy would wear this dress in the class everytime he came in. It was black and white and flowing. I dont know if it was the fabric or the rich white color but he did that every session of the class.

 

 


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#23 of 32 Old 03-09-2012, 08:04 AM
 
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I think you need to evaluate the preschools in your area to see which one you like the best.  I live in a smaller area i think than some, and there aren't so many preschools that come with labels like Waldorf etc., so I am not as familiar with them.

 

Regarding the princess concerns...i never really had much concerns about this sort of stuff originating from the preschool itself.

 

Now that doesn't mean your DD won't meet a kid who is all princess...with a princess bedroom, a princess bday party etc.  A kid that comes to school everyday with the princess backpack is as big an advertisement for the princess things as anything else.

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#24 of 32 Old 03-10-2012, 08:00 AM
 
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"II understand your stances. I used to be more hard core on them myself but I found I had little to actually fear. Sure, Aurora from "Sleeping Beauty" is pretty passive. Snow White, Cinderella... pretty bland. Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" is quite a brave young woman who sacrifices for her father, is not fooled by Gaston's handsome looks, and recognizes kindness in others despite appearances and 1st impressions. Jasmine from "Aladdin" has a backbone and demands a partner who is actually worthy of her despite societal expectations. Mulan doesn't fit female stereotypes in her community at all and ends up saving the day with her wits. Jane from Tarzan is not a princess but she's a scientist out to explore the world at a time when women did not do such things. Pocahontas, Rapunzel... not without some redeeming qualities"

 

 

Hmm, here is the thing. For me, its not enough for me that some (a minority) of these Disney women have a bit of backbone. I don't think its that uncommon to have educated or "feisy" women even in the most stereotypically sexist media presentations. I still have an enormous issue with how this "feistiness" is framed - as something women can do IF a. they are very attractive and behave in a broadly flirtatious manner and b. they are on some kind of trajectory that does not take them away from the ultimate goal of marrying and having kids.    I really like Dr Who (it is filmed in our city ;-) ) but I have an enormous problem with how women are written in the recent episodes. Fair enough they are usually very intelligent-but also both attractive and sexualised, I have enough of a problem with it that I've kept it away from my kids, not because of the violence but because of the idea that to be a strong woman you need to wear miniskirts.

Of course I would rather that my girls aimed at being scientists or circus performers or whereever their dreams took them than generally being submissive and accepting whatever society wanted to throw at them as girls. But its also hugely important to me that they internalise the idea that they are strong and unique individuals and worthwhile members of society, utterly, utterly regardless of how attractive they are to the opposite sex.

(in practical terms, my girls are still pretty young-4 and 6-but I do think a really important part of encouraging healthy body image is for them to see their body as something capable and useful, not just to be attractive, so my 6 year old does a relatively large amount of non-gendered sports, circus skills, martial arts etc , all stuff available in our local community)

 


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#25 of 32 Old 03-10-2012, 01:01 PM
 
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I've been enjoying reading this discussion. I used to have so many ideals, no characters, no barbies, no disney. My MIL used to want to murder me since she had 2 boys and then I had girls and I would't allow her to buy all the girly girl stuff she desperately wanted to. DD1 does dance some and is a gymnast but also is heavily into skateboarding, white water kayaking, snowboarding which are all male dominated sports locally anyway. She is the only female on the snowboard team on 2 different resorts that we've been involved in. She can hang with the big boys and they usually love her because she isn't a walking princess ad. And then there is my 5 year girl who was born being obsessed with everything girly girl, princesses, pop culture, barbies, you name it and she wants it. I will second the person that said it can be more difficult to be male and go against the male stereotypes then the female. We've had some problems with DD1 and not fitting into a "regular" girl role, we've run across some nasty gender bias issues that still very much do exist out there. We have been able to seek out some strong female role models that have helped. Then I've got DS1 who prefers pink, long hair, maybe some nail polish, and dancing. All fine in my book but not for many others. Our society still has so far to go before we really are accepting of everyone. 


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#26 of 32 Old 03-11-2012, 08:38 AM
 
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Hmm, here is the thing. For me, its not enough for me that some (a minority) of these Disney women have a bit of backbone. I don't think its that uncommon to have educated or "feisy" women even in the most stereotypically sexist media presentations. I still have an enormous issue with how this "feistiness" is framed - as something women can do IF a. they are very attractive and behave in a broadly flirtatious manner and b. they are on some kind of trajectory that does not take them away from the ultimate goal of marrying and having kids.    I really like Dr Who (it is filmed in our city ;-) ) but I have an enormous problem with how women are written in the recent episodes. Fair enough they are usually very intelligent-but also both attractive and sexualised, I have enough of a problem with it that I've kept it away from my kids, not because of the violence but because of the idea that to be a strong woman you need to wear miniskirts.

Of course I would rather that my girls aimed at being scientists or circus performers or whereever their dreams took them than generally being submissive and accepting whatever society wanted to throw at them as girls. But its also hugely important to me that they internalise the idea that they are strong and unique individuals and worthwhile members of society, utterly, utterly regardless of how attractive they are to the opposite sex.

(in practical terms, my girls are still pretty young-4 and 6-but I do think a really important part of encouraging healthy body image is for them to see their body as something capable and useful, not just to be attractive, so my 6 year old does a relatively large amount of non-gendered sports, circus skills, martial arts etc , all stuff available in our local community)

 


I'm not suggesting we hold Disney characters up as models of girl power lol. I'm saying that it's all out there and girls don't grow strong by hiding that part of the world from them. They grow strong from having real conversations about what they see from day one. They learn by meeting great role models, reading of honorable people and characters, comparing them to what the media gives them. They learn by getting out there and doing powerful things but personalities vary and while for one girl they feel powerful scaling a rock wall, to another, designing some great outfit and learning how to produce it is just as empowering. There is a line between telling girls they have to wear mini-skirts to be powerful and telling girls that if they wear mini-skirts, they are nothing but submissive bimbos. The real goal is to have a girl who wears what she truly likes herself in. We want to give our girls EVERY opportunity, not to just stuff them in another labeled envelope of our making. 

 

My parents took the total shelter route.... no TV, no Barbies, nothing trendy. Honestly, all it left me was totally out of touch with my peers and an obsession for TV and junk media all through college. We chose more balance with our kids, 11 and 15, and find it has paid off. They like what THEY like... occasionally that lines up with what peers and the media want them to like and that is OK. Most times it doesn't and that is OK too. We don't have to fear exposure to Princesses, we just have to make sure our girls have exposure to other things to, have real conversations and show respect for what they choose for themselves.

 


Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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#27 of 32 Old 03-12-2012, 08:19 AM
 
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this is such a big subject for me. I could ramble on and on about all the ways girls and boys are separated from each other, defined as being one thing or another, told what they like and dislike. Sometimes I feel like I am fighting the whole freakin world and sometimes I can't even remember why. We only have one preschool here, and nothing alternative, so most of my experience is in trying to get a standard school system to accommodate us weirdos. I've found it mostly depends on the teacher. Some of the things you think are important now won't seem so later, and some things will surprise you. It's not too hard to get teachers not to give kids dairy, once they understand what your limits are. But what about the constant flow of sugar that is handed to children everywhere you go, including in the classroom? Teachers who reward good behavior with candy? I don't even know how to talk to someone about that, beyond saying, "Please don't give our child sugar as a reward for good behavior." If I think about it too much next thing I know I'm questioning the whole premise of behavior modification and using rewards to manipulate behavior, the authoritarian top-down model of learning, and whether school is a good thing at all . . . though we've already decided that it's the best choice we have at this time for all of us, and it's where the kids want to be.

Gender stereotypes are like fingernails on chalkboard for me, not because I don't like frilly dresses, but because I want my girls to be free, truly, to be whatever and whoever they are. If that's girly, so be it, but let it be an expression of who they are, not of who everyone else thinks they are. How will they ever know the difference if they aren't allowed a choice? I think it's probably much, much harder for boys and their parents, though, because girls are "allowed" to wear "boy" clothes, but I pity the boy who would go to our school dressed in pink sparkles. Then again, I find myself thinking more, sometimes, about having enough unstructured time, development of creativity, and time outdoors. These are issues I knew about but didn't think about that much, but which I've become increasingly concerned about as I've watched my kids develop and seen how the school system works.

I LOVE the idea of a martial arts school, but as others have said, you won't know what kind of school is best for your kid until you meet her, and get to know her, and watch her become who she will be . . . and it will be such a beautiful journey!

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#28 of 32 Old 03-18-2012, 07:23 PM
 
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It seems to me that when it comes to value systems such as how women approach men--as a strong minded woman or as a weak Disney princess will be shaped more by the values at home than by what is going on at school. Yes, there is definitely some influence from school but your influence will be very strong!

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#29 of 32 Old 03-24-2012, 03:48 PM
 
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I'm not suggesting we hold Disney characters up as models of girl power lol. I'm saying that it's all out there and girls don't grow strong by hiding that part of the world from them. They grow strong from having real conversations about what they see from day one. They learn by meeting great role models, reading of honorable people and characters, comparing them to what the media gives them. They learn by getting out there and doing powerful things but personalities vary and while for one girl they feel powerful scaling a rock wall, to another, designing some great outfit and learning how to produce it is just as empowering. There is a line between telling girls they have to wear mini-skirts to be powerful and telling girls that if they wear mini-skirts, they are nothing but submissive bimbos. The real goal is to have a girl who wears what she truly likes herself in. We want to give our girls EVERY opportunity, not to just stuff them in another labeled envelope of our making. 

 

My parents took the total shelter route.... no TV, no Barbies, nothing trendy. Honestly, all it left me was totally out of touch with my peers and an obsession for TV and junk media all through college. We chose more balance with our kids, 11 and 15, and find it has paid off. They like what THEY like... occasionally that lines up with what peers and the media want them to like and that is OK. Most times it doesn't and that is OK too. We don't have to fear exposure to Princesses, we just have to make sure our girls have exposure to other things to, have real conversations and show respect for what they choose for themselves.

 

 

hey whatsnextmom. think its a tricky one. Agree re the shelter actually. I didn't have barbies or tv BUT I had parents who discussed these things and I think the important thing for me was having an alternative set of values that I felt I belonged to. My mother identified as a feminist so I did too, from a very early age. OTOH I think that even the most sheltered child must surely have the opportunity to discuss these things-so maybe it comes down to how confident and willing the adults around you are to discuss the issues raised, and the perspective they are coming from. To restrict TV and Barbies from a religious perspective might be very different to restricting them from a feminist perspective.

 

I suppose the problem I have with girls choosing to wear, say, mini skirts is that I cannot honestly see how that could be a truly free choice. Mini skirts, heels, even make up are not actually generally that comfortable to wear. I am really skeptical that a child would make these clothing choices independently of a desire for social approval, or at least some desire to make believe based on their understanding of what would give them social approval. I'd really rather work on my girls' sense of self worth so that they didn't feel they needed to show their legs to get people to like and respect them. I really do want them to think-as in generally in fact the case in real life-that if you are clever and funny and kind people will like you, respect you, and give you a job if you need one, pretty much irrespective of what you look like.

 

I don't disagree with giving kids the information and exposure to values I radically disagree with, and I do think that they have the right to this information, but I do believe that this is not helpful at a young age, before about 6 or 7 certainly, then gradually as they get older, which is why I do think its right to be very concerned about the preschool chosen. I just don't think young child can filter information, or distinguish advertising from factual information, until they are that much older. I also think that if you can raise a girl with an intact sense of self-worth and a strong sense that her body is useful aside from looking pretty, once she is that much older then a lot of this stuff will just roll off. Once they hit the age that they can have those thoughtful discussions, around 7 or so, it starts to become a different matter. But preschool is something different to me. In the same way that I wouldn't give my 4 year old the choice of chocolate each morning for breakfast or allow her unlimited, uncensored tv, but I might with my 8 year old because I know he has the level of self-regulation and knows himself well enough not to eat loads of sugar or watch stuff he'd find alarming.

 

 


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#30 of 32 Old 03-25-2012, 08:01 PM
 
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I suppose the problem I have with girls choosing to wear, say, mini skirts is that I cannot honestly see how that could be a truly free choice. Mini skirts, heels, even make up are not actually generally that comfortable to wear. I am really skeptical that a child would make these clothing choices independently of a desire for social approval, or at least some desire to make believe based on their understanding of what would give them social approval. I'd really rather work on my girls' sense of self worth so that they didn't feel they needed to show their legs to get people to like and respect them

 

But unless a girl is free to wear them, she'll never find out for herself whether or not she finds them comfortable. I'd much rather than DDs try things out growing up and figure out how they feel rather than leaving the house at 18 either spouting my views as their own OR doing everything the opposite because they finally can. Both are very weak. Making your own choices and  finding out for yourself what you find comfortable IS empowering.

 

Telling girls no make up, no short short skirts, etc is really saying "don't think for yourself. I already have it figured out."  And we all know how well that works long term.

 

I don't have a problem with my DDs "showing their legs."  They are both competitive swimmers and are very comfortable in their own bodies. A skort made of a little stretchy fabric is very comfortable. Telling girls that if their skin is showing, they are just looking for social approval is the exact same nonsense I was raised with in my parents ultra conservative religion. I've raised my DDs to think about their bodies in terms of what they can DO. They earn respect in a swim suit not because of how they look, but how quickly and beautifully they get across the pool.

 

My 13 year old is getting ready for a 1 week 40 mile rafting trip in the wilderness. She is both the youngest person and the only girl going (it's a school trip). Being allowed to wear high heels and a strapless dress for a fancy dinner last summer hasn't slowed her down from being a very strong and brave young woman.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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