The (Parental) Hair Debate

I have always been against people telling me what to do with my hair. It’s. Just. Hair. It’s hair! Cut it and it will grow back. Color it and it will grow out. Shave it and it will come back. Braid it and they can come out. Hair is hair is hair. It’s hair. So when the Ex and I had a debate about the Girl’s hair last night, I could not help but to get a little pissed.

First things first, I have never been a parent before. Second things second, I have never been a divorced parent before. I am flying by the seat of my pants and have been doing so for the last 14 years. So far, the children are not (a) thieves, (b) murderers, (c) gangsters (d) whores (e) rapists and/or (f) on Maury with any of the above. Of course they lack more to be desired, but they are teenagers. Spoiled teenagers with a large side of attitude and ungratefulness, but that can be easily fixed (ask the Boy who I wrestle to the ground and show who’s boss when it is needed). All of that being said, there is something to this parenting game I have learned over this 14 year stint: allow expression.

I am a free spirit and I parent sorta accordingly. You want to wear stripes and polka dots with monkey slippers? Go for it. You want to paint your room and draw on the walls? Have at it. I. Don’t. Care. Express yourself in the safest, most benign manner, and it can save the world from frustrated angry individuals (imo). Of course there are somethings I fight: sagging pants, odd body piercings, skank wear, certain music, R-rated movies, and personal bubble popping. Other than that, life is a coloring book with blank pictures–I encourage coloring outside the lines. The Ex obviously feels differently.

The Girl wanted to get her hair done, and I obliged. I preferred her in an afro, but she preferred herself in some sort of relaxed style. Fine. Your hair. Not mine. This time she asked if she could get it colored. I obliged. The Girl ended up with beautiful burgundy red highlights. Instead of him gushing over her hair, boosting her self-esteem, he proceeded to debate with me over her hair being colored. “She’s 12!” He says. “She doesn’t need color in her hair. I am her father and I have a say in something that big. Blah blah blah.” Is it that big of a deal, really?

Hair, clothes, nail polish, art work, tattoos even–is all an extension of the person and their need for expression. Everything has a limit and maturity date. The Girl has suffered quite a bit at the hands of adults and mother nature. She has had her home sold, her family changed, major surgery, and puberty knocking at her door in a 12 month span. The least I can do, as her mother/supporter/cheerleader, is allow her to test life and move outside of the lines…just a little bit. He had a point. She is 12. Which, for me, is all the more reason to allow her to express herself safely. She is an artist at heart–always has been–why not allow her to move within that? If you made it to the end of this long post, riddle me this: Was I wrong for allowing her to do it? Was I wrong for not telling him? Should her hair be a joint adult decision? I am curious to know.

~SM

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