This summer my daughter has kept the movie Frozen on repeat in our DVD player. She knows the score by heart and asked me if we could expect snow in summer!
Her love for the main characters and desire to wear her Frozen costume all day is cute. But I recently became concerned over a comment she made regarding the sisters of this adorable film, Anna and Elsa.
As I was tucking her in for a nap, she told me her favorite character of the film was Queen Elsa. This was no surprise to me since her favorite song is sung by Elsa, she wears an Elsa costume all day, and she has repeatedly asked me to braid her hair like this character. However, when I asked her why Elsa was her favorite, her response was not something I liked. She told me Elsa was her favorite because the queen had blonde hair like her. She then further explained herself by saying she did not like the spots Anna had on her face, thus Anna was not her favorite.
I was quite taken aback by my three-year-old’s response. I have always been cautious to avoid fostering this kind of thinking from my daughter. She owns multiple dolls, books, and movies featuring diverse characters; and my husband and I never point out physical differences of others in a negative light. I expected her to tell me she liked Elsa best because she has cool powers, was a good sister, etc. Instead, it seemed my daughter’s main concern was choosing favorites based on looks. The “spots” she was referring to not liking on Anna are the sister’s cute freckles.
I had to take this and turn it into a teaching moment.
I first asked my daughter how she thought Anna would feel to hear her say she didn’t like her freckles. She looked at me unsure how to respond. In the silence that followed I then asked her who made all the girls in the world, including herself. To this she immediately responded with “God,” and I saw recognition on her face as she started to see where I was going with this.
Now, readers, we know Anna and Elsa are not real people. But in the eyes of my daughter who has visited the Disney castle and met these characters on a Disney Cruise experience, Anna and Elsa are girls who do exists in her toddler world. Though I was discussing the feelings of a fictional character, keep in mind there will be a day my daughter meets a real girl in her classroom or on her t-ball team with freckles and physical differences.
“God made me, and Elsa, and Anna!” my daughter exclaimed. I confirmed her statement and then told her God made no mistakes. All girls are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him (Psalm 139:14). This means freckles are beautiful. Skin colors are beautiful. All girls are beautiful.
I explained to her that telling someone you did not like their freckles or hair or anything else was using unkind words, and God did not want us doing that (Ephesians 4:29). She firmly agreed, and I could see she was now understanding the point I was making.
A week later, my daughter accompanied me to the salon. While in there, the stylist asked my daughter a common question, “Who’s your favorite Disney character?”
My daughter’s immediate response? “Elsa.”
My heart sank a bit as I remembered why this was her favorite character. But then, she followed up her answer with, “And I like Anna, too!”
I smiled. Her response felt like a small victory during this difficult jorney of parenthood.
My job is nowhere near done, as all Moms reading this know. She’s only three yet has already started to navigate what it means to judge. To judge others based on appearance is, sadly, a natural tendency of sin we all possess. I am guilty of judging on appearances at one time or another, and you might be too.
In contrast, I have also been on the receiving end of judgement based on appearance, and the experience was hurtful.
God is the ultimate judge, and the only One who sees the real heart and thoughts of man (Psalm 44:21). We need to hold this truth in high regard.
What do I mean?
When picking a spouse, a close friend, or whether to work under a specific boss requires us to judge the person in question. To choose a babysitter, mentor, or financial advisor requires having judgment. Such judgment needs to be fueled by discernment and wisdom. God knows this, and has given us tools to help us judge using moral righteousness (John 7:24). We need to use the Bible and Holy Spirit to look at others through the lens of God. We are to pray and ask God for guidance in situations of judgment. And though my daughter is young, I must start early in teaching her appropriate judgment! The scenario I have described to you, on her view of fictional Disney characters, is clear proof of that.
Now, when my daughter and I watch a movie or read about a character, I am making it a point to discuss the qualities of the figures we encounter. Qualities of the heart and not appearance (John 2:24). I ask questions like:
“Did they use kind words?”
“How did they treat others?”
“Would God have liked what they did?”
She’s only three, but I pray questions like these are what my child will ask throughout her life. When she is dating and choosing godly friends I want her to judge correctly, not on appearances but with with the Holy Spirit prompting her.
And, these questions I am discussing with my toddler are good reminders for the life she and I live! The standards we hold to other people should be the same standards we hold for ourselves. As people judge us, I hope they see kind words, actions of love, and girls striving to please God in all we do.