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Curly Nikki

Leaving Your Curly Kid in the Hands of Another

By January 27th, 202144 Comments
Leaving Your Curly Kid in the Hands of Another

The Problem with Going Out of Town for Natural Mothers

by Ernessa T. Carter from

I’m attending a few out of town events this summer for the paperback release of 32 CANDLES (in stores now, so please jump on it). However, I also have a two-year-old daughter. A lot of moms worry about missing important milestones when they’re out of town. How about if she says her first three-syllable word or reveals a prodigious talent for the violin when I’m not looking? But not me. I don’t worry about milestones, I don’t worry about my daughter missing me for the days I’m away — I just worry about her hair.
More specifically will her hair look a hot mess while I’m gone?
I don’t see very many posts on this subject, but I think many black mothers (especially the ones in interracial relationships like myself) might have this same worry. Though I’ve attempted to walk my husband through our daughter’s hair routine on a few occasions, he just doesn’t seem to have an innate sense of how much product to put in her hair or how to part her hair — even if she’s squirming or full-on fighting him. Our daughter isn’t tender-headed. She’s just ornery and doesn’t like people up in her hair. She only recently stopped fighting me on the subject. My husband, however, just doesn’t have the steely hair resolve of a black mother. He feels bad when our daughter declares her upset at getting her hair done. He often either half-does it or doesn’t do it at all rather than stand up to his two-year-old daughter on this particular subject.
I’ve received so many pictures of my daughter looking less than put together while she was out and about with my husband, that I’ve given him the instruction not to take any pictures outside of the house unless her hair is in a neat puff. I’m already having dreadful visions of fellow black women shaking their heads at him on the street, assuming that our daughter has been adopted by culturally insensitive people who just don’t care about how her hair looks. No, I want to say to these hypothetical women, he’s just too nice to get the job done properly. Please don’t judge us.
I wonder how other natural mothers handle this situation. Do any of you worry about your children’s hair when you go out of town?

Let me know in the comments.


  • Ashley Jane says:

    LOL!!! This reminds me of my daddy when I was younger! He had the single ponytail down but that was it haha. Now my other daddy (stepdad) he tried to do my hair 1 time and it was so awful we just covered it with a hat! ahahaha my mom was furious! Either way this post was hilarious. Sorry I have nothing to add. I have no children and not the slightest clue what to do. Great post!

  • Leo the Yardie Chick says:

    @ Monique: Oh, there would be some slow-singing and flower bringing if anyone ever relaxes my future child's hair without my permission!

  • KayDanai says:

    My niece's grandmother on her dad's side is a terror for her hair health. And it's funny, if any indication of what they are doing wrong, it would be the no existent edges and reliance on weaves and wig, because they have burned or processed all of their hair out. What a shame.

    My sister sent my niece to stay with them for about a month this summer, and she went with freshly done kinky twists that my sister did knowing that you can't really go wrong there….but days later they posted pictures on facebook with her hair pressed out for Easter.

    Excuse me?

    Those braids were freshly done. not raggedy, why on earth would you feel the need to take them down and take a hot comb to her head. She's only FOUR!

    When we got her back, I was doing her hair in twists to wear a twist-out for her birthday. She says I don't want the fire-comb near my head. I said trust me, I don't want it near your head more than you do. And her twist out turned great.

    I was so pissed about this, but since it isn't my child I decided to let it go. Had it been my child, I would have told them if I ever send my child to them with her hair nicely done, without heat, and they return her to me with her hair pressed, I will be pulling out what little hair they have left.


  • Anonymous says:

    My book club just finished 32 Candles and we all thoroughly enjoyed it! Anyway, no worries, I think people are more understanding when they see daddies and young daughters with unkempt hair. I think they assume that dad did his best. πŸ™‚

  • Inesa Conley says:

    French braid it and that will solve all of your problems

  • Monique says:

    Oh and watch those relatives! I could totally see some of my family taking my daughter and getting her hair permed without my permission. As a matter of fact, I am now making a "no overnight or long-term list for fear of relaxing without my consent" list.

  • Monique says:

    Great article! I too am in an interracial marriage and I do not need to worry because at this point I am quite confident that if I am not around my husband will not even try to do my daughter's hair. His version of doing her hair…putting her in a cute pink hat (and no he does not care if the outfit corresponds with the hat, but that is another story). He has watched me do my daughter's hair a few times and he tries to mimic what I do, he just does not have the same attention to detail. Plus for him she is beautiful and her hair should not matter. Now before ya'll say how great that is, come on, it does matter. So now that you know that i cannot fix my own similar situation, what advice do I have to give. Just pray that they don't go very far and hopefully don't run into too many old black ladies like my mom and nana! =) And I would consider trying to find a natural hair salon. I used to go to one in Philly and they did lots of children, both boys and girls. They had a knack of catering to the child, took breaks if needed and had snacks for the kids. It worked well. I am hoping to take my daughter there when she gets older for some low maintenance styles like flat twists or two-strand twists.

  • Ernessa T. Carter says:

    I just wanted to step in and say how much I'm enjoying your comments. Some points of reply:

    1. I wish, wish, WISH my daughter would sit still long enough to do a protective style. My heart fills up with bitter jealousy whenever I see a child her age in cornrows or twists. That must be so nice for their moms.

    2. I know I shouldn't worry about my daughter being judged for her hair, but I do. I did not have neat hair growing up and I was hoping to break that cycle with my daughter.

    3. My mom (bless her heart) was the WORST with my hair when I was coming up: I'm talking hotcombs on stoves, cheap home perms, brushing while dry. Finally my father convinced her to let me go to a salon in 7th grade. TTL. I wish she'd had a site like Curly Nikki.

    4. Now I'm scared about leaving my daughter with my STL relatives.I hadn't even thought about the possibility of unapproved hair cuts or straightening. #scary

    5. Most of all, I'm so glad that other moms worry about this topic, too. I seriously can't wait until she's old enough to take care of her own hair. What age is that, again?

  • Leo the Yardie Chick says:

    I have no children, but I'm more worried about the hauling-and-pulling-and-tears method of hair combing a la Mama will be experienced by another generation. Heck, I don't even want my mum touching my hair now!

    Mum: "Oh, you washed it! Lemme plait it for yo.."

  • Anonymous says:

    I struggle with this when i send my 6 year old to her grandma's house or out of town. I have been teaching her how to maintain her hair when I am not around. Primarily how to moisturize it with a spray. I normally just braid her hair and let her go that way. I am very particular and try to be the only one that touches her hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I understand what you are going through. My daughter is biracial also. She is now 14. My husband just couldn't handle the hair drama when she was younger. By the time my daughter was 4, she told her dad (while having a fit about getting her hair comb) that her hair being combed was between her and her mamma and to please not talk to her when her hair was getting comb. That it made her even more upset. Plus she didn't want him touching her hair. That was fine with him. He never bothered ever again. He would walk out the room ever time. So when I would go out of town I would but her hair in box braids.
    Thank goodness she is 14 now and can do her own hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    My mom was working on her PhD when I was a kid and so a lot of household responsibilities fell on my dad…including taking care of my hair. He was pretty good with it, actually. He usually put it in the same three big braids with barrettes at the ends, but at least it was clean, detangled, and moisturized.

    I think long-term protective styles would probably be your best option.

    I know this wasn't supposed to be funny, but this part had me cracking up: "She's just ornery and doesn't like people up in her hair." My kinda girl. She already knows what she likes, LOL. And hands in her hair ain't one of them.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article i have never read one about this topic and is something i think about.I am transitioning 16 months-post relaxer so my hair approach has changed for the better and my 2 year old is benefiting from that.
    I don't canerow at the level i want yet so i wet her curls(OS pattern) and seal with a butter or do wash and gos and i know the people i would leave her with would brush it dry and do other things i don't like use hair grease etc… Basically my solution would be to give a few rules or products as i wouldn't want my daughters damaged in any way or to do twist or plaits before hand that way it would be easy to maintain.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've received so many pictures of my daughter looking less than put together while she was out and about with my husband, that I've given him the instruction not to take any pictures outside of the house unless her hair is in a neat puff." this is a little harsh….
    well im not gonna say it shouldn't be worked on but im sure that means it time to do something about it, email him info from curlynikki 'the proper way to seal hair' for starters!

    I'm already having dreadful visions of fellow black women shaking their heads at him on the street, assuming that our daughter has been adopted by culturally insensitive people who just don't care about how her hair looks. No, I want to say to these hypothetical women, he's just too nice to get the job done properly. Please don't judge us."
    ….really tho who cares?
    just do some twists before you leave or actually talk with your husband about how to style if you plan ahead with him and set dates where you can all work together im sure your dilemma would be solved…

  • Anonymous says:

    I know exactly how you feel my daughter is away with my mom and sister for the summer. My sister is constantly fussing about hwe hair so upon leaving i did some mini twist and instructed her to braid it bi-weekly after she washes it. I even left her products.

  • Anonymous says:

    LOL!I can relate so well. It's not that your being vain, you just want her hair to look nice when she is out with her daddy–in one way or another, it's a reflection on you. My six-year old daughter is also biracial, and we have gone through several routines until I found the right one for her texture. It's true, despite my explicit instructions, her hair looks mediocre at best when my hubby does it–this is usually the time he decides to run all over town with her. I dare not mention it, though. I've had to just convince myself that it's just hair–when she was little, I had 2 little hats she could wear on days I wasn't around. Other than that, a good protective style goes a long way…even just two nicely done braids each in a non-elastic hair band–okay, not the healthiest for the hair, but it stays and it works. A final note: my mom is actually worse on my daughter's hair than my hubby. She insists on brushing her loosely-curled-but-frizzes-easily type 3/4 hair DRY! It takes a couple of days and some extra deep conditioning for her hair to recover from that, so, I always have to make sure her hair is done when she goes to Grandma's!

  • LW says:

    My husband just doesn't do hair. If hair needs to be done I have to try and use styles that can last more than a day.

  • Shelly Robinson says:

    I know exactly how you feel! LOL I am white and my husband is black. I do all of the hair care and styling for our 20 month-old daughter. He has never even touched her hair! The last time I went out of town she was younger with not as much hair, but I still dreaded how it would look without my help. I asked the daycare teacher, and she said she helped touch it up when she got there. HAHA I think it's a great idea to do the protective styling while you are away. I plan to do that in the future. πŸ™‚

  • Ally says:

    This is hilarious, but I know your pain… Your husband is like any good father (black or white) and is trying his best. My father is black, and made attempts to style our hair when we were children, but usually only ended up making a mess. Just do some protective styling before you go and pray for the best. Maybe when you get back, you can start with a basic introductory course on parting, combing from the ends up, etc.?

  • Ashley says:

    I remember when I was a kid and my dad literally drove me to my aunts house in a panic so she could do my hair before school when my mom was out of town one time. I remember thinking it was the funniest thing and laughing the whole time! I couldn't have been more than 7.

  • curlybean says:

    This is a great topic! It brought back memories of my dad doing my hair…and like others said, they were jacked up ponytails or I had the hugest tangled 'fro but I loved the fact that my dad tried to do my hair. We laugh today and that was 30 years ago!

    My husband is pretty good w/ my 6 y/o daughter's hair. I wish he'd listen and only comb her hair when it's wet but my daughter likes the bonding time and bragging when he does/attempts a braid. So, all this to say: I used to worry…more about the pictures but never what anyone else would think. Sometimes I will do a braid and hope for the best but now I just let it go. πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous says:

    My daughter loves it when Daddy does her hair – jacked up parts and all. lol But I know how you feel mama. You want your baby looking presentable when she steps out the house. Thankfully my hubby pretty much knows what products to put in her hair and he's getting pretty good w/pony puffs.

  • Anonymous says:

    IMO it's really not that serious. She is a baby so no one expects a perfect hairdo. Your husband loves her and takes care of her so who cares what someone else thinks? Perhaps you should give her some mini twists before you leave and give your husband some ponytail holders and headbands as finishing touches for her outfits.

  • julia @ simple truths says:

    I remember once when my mom went out of town and my dad tried to put my hair in two ponytails. They were so loose because he was afraid to pull to tightly on my hair. In retrospect very cute of my dad but at the time I couldn't wait for my mom to get back!
    My mom didn't know how to cornrow, my princess Leia braids were my favorite πŸ™‚

  • Jada R. says:

    I used to worry about my daughter's hair when she would visit my ex-husband for the summer. However, my fears turned into jealousy upon learning his fiance' knows how to corn row her hair. LOL! No really, im happy that she can take care of my baby's hair. On another note, I absolutely LOVED your book!!! I was screaming at the end of it! I have a friend whose boyfriend owns a "Jake Ryan Porsche." I had to sit in it. I felt like Davie Jones! If you haven't read it yet, YOU MUST!

  • Anonymous says:

    My mom actually relaxed my hair for the first time (when I was seven) because I was going on a trip to visit my dad's family in Florida. She didn't think they would be able to handle my hair because my dad's side of the family has much softer hair than my mother's side. She thought it would be easier for them to manage if it were relaxed. Interestingly enough, I went to Jamaica the next year to visit my mother's family for a month and the hair that was down my back broke off to around my shoulders because no one helped me take care of my hair. (There aren't too many pictures of me on that trip lol)

  • Anonymous says:

    I say have it cornrowed when you will be gone for extended periods. That way he doesn't have to do anything but change the barrettes to match her outfit. πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous says:

    I remember when my Daddy used to do my hair. Even though he put them in sloppy ponytails, I couldn't care less at that age.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi, i think as long as your husband is doing the best that he can, and he takes loving care of your daughter, he should be praised for being a good Dad. Soooo many would LOVE to thave a husband that would even try! Peace and Love :o)

  • Jeannette says:

    This is funny…my mother went through this when she went out of town and I was left with my Dad. On many occasions my Mother put my hair in braids before she left so my father wouldn't have to worry about it. My mother sometimes took me to the hair dresser (hair stylist now but hair dresser back then). I have Aunts/Grandmother, and they'd check up on me every now and then. Regardless if little girls are mixed or not, I know many fathers who learned how to do their daughter's hair, they can braid it themselves.

  • Keisha says:

    I am worried as I'm typing about my 4yo's hair. She's in England for the summer with her father. She spent two weeks in Chicago with him before they flew out…I braided her hair in singles before she left and he declared that the pool made her braids look bad so he took them down. Ugh!! I was devastated! One: we swim weekly when she's at home and I have never had an issue with her braids. Two: I don't know who he will have to style her hair while they are gone other than the GF whom I've never met and I hope to the Lord she understands natural hair and doesn't relax my babies hair *taking a deep breath* Let's just say I worry.
    But OP, I think you'll be just fine. Dad seems to make an honest effort at keeping baby groomed and if you try some protective styles before you go away for a few days, your little one should be just fine when you return.


  • Anonymous says:

    I have a son with long hair. If I were going out of town I try to make sure his hair is cornrows so my husband wouldn't have to worry about it. I definitely would not just leave it out, because DH would not know what products to put on DS, how much, and how to put it on his hair.

    But I am not afraid of leaving DS with DH. I am more afraid to leave him with other family members. They don't know (and I fear they wouldn't listen to my instructions) to detanagle his hair with conditioner while he plays in the tub. They wouldn't know that I put approx 4 chunky twists in his hair to dry overnight or few a few hairs before I tackle it with the real style. I fear they would try to tear through my baby's hair while dry and with him screaming the whole time. Or worse, I come back and his hair is cut or shaved, b/c they couldn't "do" anything with it.


  • @luvfeelinpretty says:

    Yes please, make sure her hair is in a protective style before she is out of your care. My little sister has been natural all her life and she went to a close friends house for the weekend and this friend she permed her hair to make it more "manageable" without my mother's permission!!!!!! Eventually the perm grew out and she has never had one since but let me tell you, lesson learned!!! Braid your baby's hair before the go away!

  • Anonymous says:

    I completely understand, my three girls are with my in laws for anew weeks. My oldest is 10 and I was having nightmares of her coming back with relaxed hair so I braided before she left. Last year she spent a week at my mother's who declared that my child needed a perm because it took her hours to braid her hair in four cornrows. I politely told her that she was just out of practice but needless to say she will be braided up before she visits this year.

  • Anonymous says:

    The last time I had to be away, I put my daughter's hair in flat twists. I was away for a week and it still looked good when I came back.

  • Curly_mommy says:

    Yes! yes! yes!
    my babies are at their grandma (MIL) house for a few weeks, and I'm so scared of what I'll found when I pick them up.
    not so much looking a hot mess, I know my MIL will style their hair but I'm worried about the health of their hair. that woman doesn't have a slightest sense of health, I saw her run a hot combs through the hair of a 4 y/o. my babies are 3 & 2 I'm so scared of what she may be doing to their hair, counting the days till Friday to get my babies back

  • TiAnna Mae says:

    I think you've just described the typical father/daughter relationship, especially as it concerns hair. Of course you don't want crazy hair pictures to end up on FB, but I think it is cute to have for her to look back on when she is older. It makes for great memories.

  • Naturally Nita says:

    I would recommend box braids or cornrows as well when going on a trip. A great protective style and no maintenance for your husband.

  • Anonymous says:

    Let us remember, it is only hair. Allow your husband to style his daughter's hair the way he sees fit. Whatever "damage" he causes is fixable. What matters is that he is taking care of his child, and I am sure what she will remember is not the style but the time that he spends with her. Who cares what strangers think? You will never see them again.

  • Anonymous says:

    I remember growing up in the 90s my mom was always on travel to another state so she did cornrow styles. I would keep the style for 1-2wks.

  • Anonymous says:

    My baby is now a 20 year old college student and I always put her hair in single braids (she calls them box braids) when she went to camp or I went away on business. It's an easy protective style and she could wash her hair while it was braided as well.

  • Lela7 says:

    I don't understand why you don't put her hair in a long term style like braids or something if u are out of town? Wouldn't that be problem solved?

  • Barbara Naturally Speaking says:

    LOL! I also worry about my daughter's hair when I'm out of town. I usually twist her hair, or I will braid it into an updo, so that no matter where she goes her hair will look done. Once I made the mistake of going out of town and leaving her hair in puffs. Even though my mom is natural, she doesn't style puffs, etc., so my daughter's hair didn't look moist or styled when I returned. My hubby has once followed the instructions of misting, adding a little gel, and making her puffs look good for an outing. Even though he forgot to add oil, I commended him because my daughter's hair looked good.

  • Tgoodmill says:

    I worry about my daughters hair on a daily basis, my husband wants no parts of her hair . She starts school in september and I will have to wake her at 6 to do her hair before I go to work and hope that she keeps her cap on until my huband getts her ready. He has no patience.

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