by Tammy Goodson of Curlychics

The relationship between women and their hair is a complex one. It is linked to self esteem, and to some it is a powerful indicator of identity as well as a major physical attribute. As such it is a very personal and touchy topic. This dynamic is particularly interesting because it involves an impressionable young child and an outside influence. Check out this scenario.

Dear CC,

I’m recently divorced and my ex husband and I have a 6 year old daughter. Dealing with a divorce is difficult enough but dealing with your child being around “daddy’s new girlfriend” is another thing. This woman, who I’ve only met a few times, decides to tell my daughter that her hair is “so nappy” and that her mother needs to “slap a perm in her hair!” Now imagine the look on my face when my daughter recites this to me. A few things go through my head:

1. This b*&%H said what?! *takes off earrings* and
2. How dare this chick talk to my child in this manner!
I have since calmed down but want to know your opinion on this. I am transitioning myself and to be honest, sometimes I have mixed feelings about the whole natural thing. My daughter has never had a relaxer.

My Response:

Dear Frustrated Mom,

It sounds like a few things need to happen:

1. Sit down with your daughter and talk to her about what has taken place. Explain to her that she and her hair are gorgeous and that sometimes people say unkind things about things they don’t understand. Reiterate to her that not everyone can appreciate true natural beauty and that’s what both she and mommy have. This is about as detailed as I would go with a 6 year old but you know your daughter’s level of comprehension and can discern if more is necessary. Follow up with plenty of hugs and kisses to reinforce positive feelings! These types of comments are hurtful to an adult so imagine the possible effects on a small child.

2. Talk to your ex about the comment. It is important that the two of you are on the same page regarding how to handle issues that arise with YOUR daughter. You and he are the decision makers in her life and anyone who undermines that is not worthy of being in either one of their lives. Parenting is difficult enough, especially from two different households, yet alone trying to build relationships with new partners. I would impress upon him to remind the new girlfriend to remain respectful of you and your daughter and learn to censor herself when it comes to conversations with your daughter. Particularly if it is something condemning her mother.

3. If you feel it necessary to speak to her directly, which depends on a lot of other factors which I’m not sure about from your email, then do so. Politely but firmly explain to her that the comments concerning your daughter’s hair were hurtful to her and disrespectful to you. Explain that you would appreciate future concerns to be directed at her father and or you and not your daughter.

I personally do not feel it is necessary to go into explaining your daughter’s hair and your choice to not relax her hair. It’s really none of her business and not something that you have to justify to her or anyone for that matter. I also do not feel you have to come “at her” to get your point across. If this woman is going to be around your child, it would be helpful for all involved to get along but at the same time, let her know to STAY IN HER LANE. Hopefully she is mature enough to hear you and will respect what you are saying and this will be nipped in the bud. Good Luck!

Sharing hairstories and life experiences from a curl’s perspective. Find Tammy at her blog, Curlychics, on Twitter, and Facebook