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Virginia man raises the bar on spoiling kids by claiming land in North Sudan

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

White guy claims African land to make his daughter a princess, everyone cringes

Virginia dad Jeremiah Heaton recently trekked into the African desert on a mission to make his daughter a real princess. Sounds like a totally legit reason to stake a claim to 800 square miles between Sudan and Egypt, right?

Six-year-old Emily Heaton wanted to be a princess

Last year, Jeremiah Heaton's daughter Emily asked if she could be a real princess. Instead of telling her that her chances were super slim, he set off on a bizarre mission to find unclaimed land to lay claim to. This is where Heaton made his first mistake. When a 6-year-old says she wants to be a princess, she generally means she wants to wear a really pretty dress and a glittering tiara. Hell, I kept my wedding hairpiece for that exact reason. It's nice to feel sparkly once in a while. Heaton could have saved tons of money and international embarrassment if he'd headed to Walt Disney World for a princess makeover.

Have flag will rule

Instead, Heaton researched unclaimed land online. He felt like this was part of his parenting journey — as if googling potential kingdoms is a healthy way to show how much you love your kid. In a stunningly insensitive, weird move, he settled on an 800-square-mile patch of desert between Sudan and Egypt. I guess he saw nothing problematic about a white man from Virginia traveling halfway across the globe to literally stick a flag in the desert between two African nations.

After Heaton explained his plan, Egyptian authorities, who hopefully spent a lot of time laughing about this behind Heaton's back, gave him permission to travel to the remote desert area. Heaton's primary concern was that he might be traveling into a "toxic environment," but now wants people to know that the Egyptian people were very kind and generous. Upon arriving at the patch of land, which locals call Bir Tawil, Heaton planted his flag and declared the land the Kingdom of North Sudan.

Making her dreams come true — or spoiling her rotten?

Heaton's family came up with the flag for the Kingdom of North Sudan, which would have been really cute if they were using it to "lay claim" to their backyard. What's wrong with building an elaborate tree fort castle, buying a frilly princess dress and coming up with some kind of ceremony to name Emily as princess of the Kingdom of North Heatonville? That would still be pretty over-the-top, but wouldn't be as bizarre or problematic as casually grabbing a huge chunk of Africa to make a little girl happy.

Since returning to the U.S. from his conquest, Heaton has instructed family members to refer to his daughter as Princess Emily.

Try these 28 positive things to say to your kids >>

I think kids should feel special, not entitled. Play with your kids. Show them that you can take time out of your busy grownup life to make believe and indulge some of their childhood whims. This is a healthy, normal way to love your children and show how much you care — in addition to providing for them and keeping them healthy and alive. You know, the little things.

Making yourself king of a land that you've never called home in order to make your daughter a "real" princess isn't a display of love, it's just a dick move.

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