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Do You 'Assault' Your Child's Hair?

Me? I don't comb my kids' hair. Not regularly.

All three were born bald and grew hair that stood straight up until they were around a year old. And then it laid down and covered their ears and turned into one of those toddler mullets that I didn't even realize was happening until I finally got the 18-month-old fuzz snipped and shaped, and it became very apparent that I hadn't even noticed my child looked like Travis Tritt for an entire year.

After that epiphany (which, can you call it an "epiphany" when it happens three times?), I just kind of let the hair go, maybe getting my girls' hair bobbed when they were too young to have opinions about that kind of thing. Maybe getting my son a Mohawk, because it turns out you're never too young to have opinions about these kinds of things.

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Other than occasional requests for cuts, hair around here is kind of a non-topic and that's only a little bit intentional on my part. I don't want my girls to grow up thinking their appearance is a priority. (If you're wondering, I lead by example. #messybun). And I don't want them to think that I, their mother, was expecting them to spend any time on it. Now that they're 8 and 12, they do sometimes. But not at my behest.

I've sometimes wondered if that's the right approach—they've gotten comments at school, for example. So I was excited to read a post on the blog NothingByTheBook called "The AP Hair Style: I don't brush my children's hair. It's a massive philosophical thing. Really." But here's the deal. This mom doesn't brush her kids' hair when they don't want her to because she equates it with an assault on their bodies. She writes, "I do not assault it [hair], when they are unwilling, with a hair brush, any more than I would assault, do violence, on any other part of their bodies."

I just don't buy that parental hair care is an assault on your own child's body, or even some kind of undermining of a child's autonomy.

Assault? Really? That's a pretty big leap.

Parents touch young kids' bodies frequently in ways that kids don't want. Anyone ever suction snot from an infant's nose? Have a toddler who didn't want his butt wiped? Or a preschooler who refuses to submit to the car seat? Shots at the doctors? Meltdowns over teeth-brushing? These are all rather necessary moments in a kid's life, and I'm not saying we should ignore their protests and tell them to get over it. But we can let them know we get it, we hear them, yeah, this is sucking.

I argued that brushing and styling hair is not a priority for me, not in any way. But I have friends for whom the state of their kids' hair is important to them and for lots of different reasons, many just as personal as my hair-ain't-no-thing campaign. I'm not going to talk them out of it. Plenty of kids who don't have straight blond hair like my kids may even become the target of prejudice if their hair is in its natural, post-sleep state. So I just don't buy that parental hair care is an assault on your own child's body, or even some kind of undermining of a child's autonomy. It's not lost on me that my lack of parental hair care may even be an expression of my white, better-class privilege.

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NothingByTheBook can have her reasons for wild hair days, too. It's just weird that in congratulating herself for backing away from the brush, she's also accusing millions of violence toward their kids.

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