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'I Don't Want My Daughter to Cut Her Hair'

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Dear Catherine,

I'm not sure if I need French advice, or just "how not to mess up your kid" advice. Either way, please advise. I have a beautiful 8-year-old daughter who has very long, curly hair. We've always just barely trimmed her hair and let it grow, and it is gorgeous. Now that she's older, however, she's been asking to get her hair cut. She sees other friends with short hair and thinks she wants to try it. I'm having an unnatural negative reaction to this request, even though I know hair and clothes should not be a battle you pick with a child.

So far I've nodded and smiled, and simply not taken her to the beauty shop. But I know this avoidance can only go on for so long. The kid is going to need some kind of cut before school starts, or she just starts looking quite raggedy. I just love the way her hair looks now, and worry that a shorter 'do might not be as pretty. And I don't know why I'm even worrying. This is crazy, right?

Signed,

The Hair Police

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Dear Hair Police,

Short hair is chic. And French.

Not necessarily French, however, is what I’m about to say (it happens): Let the kid cut her hair!

I am sure that a lot of your “negative reaction” comes from the parental instinct to want to protect your child, but what you think is pretty might not be—in fact probably isn’t—the same as your daughter’s estimation. This difference in opinion, I’m afraid, is one you’re going to have to get used to, and not just about hair. Or, maybe your daughter isn’t even concerned with being pretty. If that’s the case, consider yourself very lucky. There will be plenty of time for her to obsess about her looks in the future.

I worried that her whole sense of worth would be wrapped up in her hair.

My own daughter had long, blond hair when she was 7. It was beautiful, and I hated it. People would approach her all the time and pet her head, saying how gorgeous she was. I worried that her whole sense of worth would be wrapped up in her hair. When she hit a tomboy phase and asked to have it all chopped off, I raced her to the salon before she could change her mind. She ended up looking kind of like Jean Seberg in Breathless. Not the effect I was going for, but dang I loved that 'do. Also, I discovered how great my girl looks with a pixie cut—good to file away for those awkward teen years. You might end up being pleasantly surprised. If you let her go for it and the result is truly dreadful (I recognize that curly hair can be tricky), you will know, have photographic evidence and will be able to steer your girl away from an adolescent calamity when it’s really going to count.

Now that my daughter’s long hair is back, I’d love to really channel my inner French mom and say something like, “We are getting your hair cut because I said we are.” But I’m not quite that French. However, I do, rather frequently, suggest that she go back for a shearing. This probably comes from a lame relationship I had with my own hair as a kid. Namely, I was unhealthily attached to it and deeply terrified of getting the slightest trim. I remember nervously marveling at my siblings who would so nonchalantly go to Supercuts; wishing I had the courage to do the same.

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From the age of 7 to 33, I had long hair. The year I had my second baby and I felt like I had nothing left to lose, I finally went short. It was a Jean Seberg cut, now that I think about it. Turns out, I look pretty good with short hair. Wish I’d known that earlier ...

Let the kid cut her hair!

Catherine

Have a French (or any nationality) parenting question for Catherine? Email her at mommecs@bermanbraun.com.

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