This morning I was greeted on my Facebook page by a link that a close friend of mine had posted about a book written for children that gives stories of biblical princesses. It is not difficult at all for young men to imagine themselves as dashing and brave princes, and even more so for little girls to dress up in pretty (and usually impossibly frilly) dresses and imagining themselves as pretty little princesses. I must admit that I am not immune either to this particular fact, as I once wrote a lengthy play, “The Virgin Prince,” based on my own childhood dreams of being a prince.
I have frequently commented on my blog on the subject of honor and respect, in various fashions, including its own strange fascination as a subject for me, and I have also talked at some length about my love of novels like A Little Princess, which deal with the way in which imagining one’s self as a princess can help one develop the self-worth to overcome harrowing child abuse. After all, one can endure much suffering if one recognizes that one is the son of a king, and all of us who are called as Christians are princes and princesses of the royal family of God. Part of acting accordingly is developing the appropriate self-worth and decorum followed by princes and princesses. For being a prince or a princess is not merely being treated with respect (but that is a big part of it), but also about treating others with dignity and showing the grace expected of those of high status and rank. Part of the responsibility that comes with being a royal is acting like it and behaving appropriately. The payoff is the love and respect of others, as well as holding a high office.
Of course, the risk with encouraging children to behave as princes and princesses (something many of them seem inclined to do naturally anyway) is that they will put on airs and consider themselves to be above others. Nonetheless, so long as the children know some important lessons about the responsibilities as well as the rights of being a prince or princess, the rewards are great. For one, treating a child like a prince or a princess can help reverse the problem of child abuse, which often results from a low value placed on children. This is a matter of great personal importance about which nothing further needs to be said here. Additionally, treating children like princes and princesses helps them understand that they are princes and princesses only because they are the children of a king and queen. Thus treating children with respect also serves as an indirect way to both teach and show honor to parents. Additionally, teaching children that not only they, but all other little people, are also princes and princesses (and that all adults are kings and queens) itself encourages the treatment of people in general with honor and respect, something this world sorely needs. We need more honor in this world, and a lot less bullying and abuse.
Therefore, as part of a whole education in honor and respect, we teach honor to others by showing honor. We ought not to demand of children that they show respect before they receive it. Rather, we ought to be quick to respect others, whether small or large, great or obscure, but with the knowledge that our respect to others is teaching that behavior through modeling it ourselves. By showing respect to little people as princes and princesses, we teach them that they are worthy enough to show honor to others without having their own dignity and self-worth threatened. That is a lesson many larger people could learn as well. In the meantime, let us get busy, as there are a lot of little princesses and princesses in this world that need to know how important and honorable they really are.