The AP Hair Style: I don’t brush my children’s hair. It’s a massive philosophical thing. Really

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When my kids were teeny-weeny—but already hairy—my friends and I used to joke that you could always identify the attachment-parented kids at playgrounds and playgrounds by the “AP Hair Style.” That is—unbrushed. Unkempt. Wild.

Now, ya’ might think that’s a granola-hippy-natural kind of thing.

It’s not.

And you might think—goddamn lazy attachment parents, not with it enough to perform the simple task of running a comb through their kids hair in the morning.

Screw you.

Or you might think—if you’re a self-identified AP mama, perhaps—that it’s because… well, it’s not important. And there are more important things. Sleep. Play. Breastfeeding. Perusing the fair-trade-all-wooden-no-plastic toy catalogue. (I’m not making fun of you. OK, I am, a little. But–I’ve had that catalogue too. Chill.)

Nope. It’s actually really important. The not brushing even more so than the brushing.

Ready?

I didn’t brush—don’t brush—my children’s hair when they did not want me to brush their hair—because it’s their hair.

Hold on.

I’m going to shout it.

IT’S THEIR HAIR.

Part of their bodies.

I do not assault it, when they are unwilling, with a hair brush, any more than I would assault, do violence, on any other part of their bodies.

THEIR BODIES.

Their own.

Under their own dominion—not mine.

Their wild, messy hair? Part of the lesson that they’re learning that no one—not me, not nice Mr. Jones down the street, not that creepy dude in the park, and not their first, over-eager boyfriend—has a right to do anything to their bodies that they don’t want them to do.

This is a lesson our children need to learn, repeatedly, while they are close enough to us that they will learn it, hear it.

But we don’t teach it with words. We don’t teach it with scary lectures or with fear.

We teach with how we treat their bodies. From their nose to their toes, and all the parts in-between.

And their hair.

Think about that next time you wield a hair brush.

xoxo

“Jane”

COMMENTS FOR THIS POST ARE NOW TURNED OFF, so we can all have a peaceful weekend. And for those of you continuing the debate on other fora:  a not-so-gentle reminder that name calling is not debating. Criticize the idea. I want you to. No name calling or being nasty to other commentators though, ok? Not cool.

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Other People’s Awesome

For all the parents on the verge of *that* conversation with your daughters (and sons), here is a brilliant Dear Daughter, I hope you have awesome sex piece from the Good Men Project.

For the bloggers in the crowd having social media anxiety and overdose: Joel Comm’s I am leaving social media.

For the bloggers in the crowd who want an easier way to share my stuff and to have me share your stuff, come join me on Triberr, at Ain’t Nothing But a Blog Thing Tribe or, if you’re a homeschooling blogger, at Undogmatic Unschoolers.

My neglected (by me) blogging sisters have been turning out all sorts of awesome these last few weeks. Jean at MamaSchmama wrote a beautiful I can make it home  piece into which she sneaked some lovely introductions to some of her favourite (and mine—she is clearly a woman of immaculate taste) bloggers. Kristi at Finding Ninee wrote what I think is a love letter to her son titled Forgotten Loves  that will a) make you cry and b) make you hug that squirmy love in your live extra-extra-hard—and Rachel at Tao of Poop was clearly on the same page with I Used to Love.

And while I’m tugging at your heart-strings, let me turn you over for a few minutes to Jen at My Skewed View, who delivers a birth story so poignant I’m tearing up as I remember it, and I read it more than a week ago: Eight Years Ago Today.

Jessica at School of Smock wrote a great piece about why pregnancy books now piss her off  and Stephanie at Mommy Is for Real reminded us all why we never eat out anymore. With our children anyway.

And Sarah at Sadder But Wiser Girl was also full of advice last week. She tells you to always check your underwear (and then some… you might need to change your underwear after reading Sarah. Just a word of warning). Jenn at Something Clever 2.0 also made me pee this week. So maybe read this post before changing your underwear…

Deb at Urban Moo Cow made me really, really, REALLY happy I don’t have a toddler anymore. Can I admit that? I can. I’m good with that. I don’t want any more babies, either. EVER.

But I’m super-super-super happy that Stephanie at Where Crazy Meets Exhaustion is glowing. Really. (Note to my most beloved: Vasectomy. Now. No more babies. Ever. But that’s a topic for another post, perhaps…)

Last thing: new friends. I’m getting to know these people this week:

Dysfunction Junction

and you should come play with me.

-30-

P.S. Where the hell is your like button? I turned it off. Cause if you really liked it, I want you to tell me. And I don’t really need to ego stroke from the other. xoxo J.

106 thoughts on “The AP Hair Style: I don’t brush my children’s hair. It’s a massive philosophical thing. Really

  1. I really liked it.
    I get the heebies imagining what my son’s ap hair would look like but I can’t deny that you have a point.

  2. You are a cool mom! I approve! Once I let my girls hair go unbrushed for a few days and I wondered if I would have to cut it off when I tried to brush it again, so I brush it everyday. She has thick, wavy hair.

  3. Ha! I don’t either!!! Wait, I take that back, I ask Ana if I can brush her hair (Collin does his own now). Sometimes she says “yes” and even asks me to put it in a ponytail. But most days she says “no”, and so I don’t. It drives my mom & mother in law crazy, but I don’t find it important. There are so many things out of her control, this I can give her. As she gets older, I’m sure her hair’s appearance will be important to her and she’ll take care of it.

  4. Oh my, the toddler in the house can go for days without a hair brush. She doesn’t like anybody touching it, I figured, it’s better to leave it alone than wrangle a screaming 2 year old.

    • oh my mom brushed the love of long hair out of me! It hurts!! A lot! I now have extremely short hair to avoid the phantom pain of my brush wielding mothers!

  5. Iliana has still pretty thin hair and yes, I don’t brush her hair. I constantly have my mom, mother in law and all sorts of other females around her ALWAYS say: honey, bring me a comb so I can comb your hair….
    I actually like her hippie hair and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Their constant nagging and commenting used to upset me, now I just practice the go-into-one-ear-come-out-the-other.
    xxx

  6. I agree! I have to admit that I’ve never thought about it this way before but I also never brush my son’s hair. I can’t say that it’s because I’m as awesome as you are, because, like I said, I’ve never thought about it this way before, but luckily, his hair never really needs brushing. Weird. Although, I could use some advice on getting him to brush his teeth because that’s a struggle every day.
    Thanks for the share, my friend!!

  7. I’m a No-Brushian ,too. My oldest daughter had the most ridiculous hair when she was little and did not want me touching it, so I didn’t. Now she’s 16 and dyes her hair funky colors and takes care of it all by herself and nothing bad happened as a result of me not brushing her hair when she was little (except that I had to deal with the occasional bossy-nosy comments from other people sometimes).

  8. Really? So do you not assault their toenails or fingernails? Do you not assault their bottoms when they don’t want them wiped? Do you not make them brush their teeth when they don’t want to?

    This is ridiculous that the argument is “it’s their hair”. Well, teeth are their, fingernails are theirs. dirty bottoms are theirs. You draw the line at hair? Brushing hair is a silly thing to care about. Sure don’t brush it, whatever. You must admit though your argument is fallacious and you’re quite the hypocrite if you force your children to do other things with their bodies against their will. Of course if you don’t. If you don’t make them wipe their bottoms or brush their teeth, then you are in fact a bad parent.

    • Yup, and their diet, when they go to bed. whether or not they will wear mittens, put their tongue on frozen pipes, run out into traffic, wear a helmut. There is a reason why children have parents – they need teaching routine and direction.

    • Exactly. I agree with many AP practices but this is a bit excessive. I brush my child’s hair, teeth, wash her body, wipe her bottom, trim her nails/ hang nails. I’m her mother and its my job as a parent to make sure her body is just as taken care of as her mind and soul.

    • And people wonder why we have a bunch of sniveling, self absorbed, degenerates running around in schools. Their bodies? YES, but THEY are not old enough to a) fully understand the implications of poor hygiene and b) make wise decisions. If children are so good at this “natural consequence” thing, then why the hell are we parents even in existence? Why not just have the baby and throw it out the door to fend for itself….after all we shouldn’t assault them by putting diapers on them or making them lay some place they don’t want to. All you are teaching them is that they can get away with whatever they want. Don’t want to clean your room? Ok, Don’t want to do your schoolwork? Ok, just fail. Don’t want to be a productive member of society? Alright, I won’t try to teach you. This is the most ignorant parenting “trend” I have ever heard of. If brushing their hair is assaulting them, then I supposed you never hold their hand against their will in a parking lot, you don’t get them proper medical treatment for illness against their will? I bet dentures for a 10 year old shouldn’t be too expensive when their teeth rot out of their heads because you don’t make them brush….Heaven forbid we assault their teeth. Frankly, this line of thinking is a huge insult to those who have TRULY been assaulted and abused as children.

    • I’m with you.
      I was reading this, immediately thinking, ‘but what about wiping their bums’? Or brushing their teeth?

      In fact, that’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more intimate and ‘invasive’ than brushing hair with a no-tangles brush. ;)

      But don’t worry, there will be some kind of nonsensical argument for this one….

      (I’m a slight AP. And YES, you don’t have to full on AP. I still brush her hair, wipe her bottom, and *shudder* take her to nursery….)

  9. So let me get this straight…by brushing my daughter’s hair when she doesn’t want it brushed, I am not only assaulting her… but I am conditioning her to be sexually assaulted in the future. Wow. Just wow.

      • I was thinking the same thing. What about when they grow up and have to you know, work for a living, and their boss tells them they need to have hair that is kempt, should their argument then be, “It’s my hair and I will wear It how I want to.” only to find that every other person in this world has to, gulp, do things they don’t want to do as a matter of respect to others in society? I don’t normally just insert my opinion went not asked, but you did write this post and your comment section does say, “Made you think? Made you laugh? Made you scream? Tell me.” So, I will. When you teach kids that they get to do whatever they want to do, you are teaching them that they don’t have to live in this world with other people. I teach my children that being well groomed is a matter of respect to others as well as to yourself. I brush their hair until they can brush it themselves, but if I didn’t brush (or wash) their hair every time they didn’t want me to do, they’d be running around with who knows what stuck in it, a tangled rat’s nest, with tangles so thick and impossible that I’d have to cut them out with scissors. Shame on you for doing this to your kids.

  10. This post is incredibly timely, Jane. I completely agree with you, and I’m showing this post to my husband. He got into a battle this morning with my daughter, because she didn’t want her hair brushed. I basically said what you said.

  11. Ridiculous. Does the same go for wiping their noses? Wiping their asses? What about brushing their teeth? This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard

    • um, parents don’t wipe their kids’ noses, they learn to wipe their butts when they’re 4 or 5 or so, and they need to brush their teeth themselves. this is about PARENTS brushing their kids’ hair, not kids brushing their hair themselves

      • Parents do wipe their kids noses and butts. If a kid can brush their own teeth, they can brush their own hair. I disagree with parents that force their children to sit and have a “hairstyle” they don’t want but not to just have their hair brushed out. This is about more than just hair care, this is about teaching your kids about the real world. Sometimes we have to do things we don;t particularly feel like or want. Sometimes life is hard and the world doesnt involve around you. You can raise a strong confident child that will stand up for his/her self with out teaching them to be so completely self absorbed.

      • Actually, pediatric dentists have verified that children do not have the physical dexterity in their hands and forearms to properly brush their teeth until they are at least 8 years old.

  12. thats crap, its MY hair, i made it, and until they are teenagers and im no longer physically intimidating, its my freakin hair, i WILL brush it, and my children WILL be clean and kempt… do you allow them to not bathe? o not wipe their butts? what about headlice? clean your kid up a bit and brush his/her hair!! ITS NOT THAT HARD FOR CRYING OUT LOUD…

  13. You go, girl! Tell your kids not to let those doctors and dentists do anything to their bodies that the kids don’t like either! And don’t let some stupid grownups tell them when or what to eat! Kids always know and do what’s best for them, after all! They don’t even need parents, really.

  14. I’m all for AP. really. But this is too much. So the next time your two year old rejects the idea of a diaper change you’re just going to leave them to burn his bum in poop? Because its his body? I don’t see this as an AP thing at all, I see it as a power struggle you’re looking to avoid. My kids don’t like lots if things. That’s life. Tough. When you grow up there’s tons of things you won’t like either. That’s tough too.

  15. I do appreciate your perspective, though you take it a bit far. Perhaps a more balanced approach is talking to your kids, even your 2 year old, and letting them understand why it may matter, or why you care. My sons happen to love fixing their hair – why – because they see me and my wife fix our hair. They cry when we don’t fix their hair. So maybe they are just seeing that YOU don’t do your hair, or maybe you don’t do it in front of them, so therefore they don’t know why. P.S. This sounds like a cop-out, and the brilliant way you laid down that it wasn’t a cop-out in your intro, doesn’t save you from the belief that one/all of those items is exactly why you chose this path.

    • I agree with you there my daughter wants me to brush it out of her eyes and clip it back because mommy does. I agree it must be a learned idea that they shouldnt take care of their hair. Children repeat everything they see. The only reason people think its okay not to brush their hair, wash their hands after going to the bathroom, wiping themselves correctly, and so on… is because either they watched others do it or were taught.

  16. Thanks for the shout-out, my friend! Good to be reading you again- I have missed your voice! And I will say two things- I have gotten a lot better about not giving a shit if my daughter has brushed her hair. And I never brush the younger one’s hair. On the first day of school– don’t hate me, I’m baring my soul here– I insisted she brush it. I suck. Baby steps, right?

  17. The difference between not bathing, not wiping and not brushing teeth compared to not brushing hair is that un-brushed hair doesn’t have the potential to cause any serious health issues, where as the others most definitely do. Important note the article states unbrushed hair, not unwashed hair. The fact that previous posters couldn’t figure that out on their own makes me weep for society.

    That said, although ones appearance shouldn’t affect how one is perceived, our society is appearance driven and it may not be a good idea to support a child’s bad decision that they don’t realize is bad. Not only that, appearance also can affect self confidence…something that should be instilled in all children.

    I understand the lesson being taught. It’s an interesting method. I hope it works out.

    • Go back and read my comment again, maybe you’ll stop weeping. Many of us don’t care whether she brushes her daughters hair or not. It’s the REASONING. The idea that she doesn’t want to “assault” her daughter into doing something she doesn’t want. It’s hypocritical reasoning because you can be sure that she makes her daughter wipe her bottom, or brush her teeth when it’s necessary.

      You’re right, brushing hair is trivial. Ignorant reasoning is not.

  18. This is attachment parenting? Really?? Seriously??!! Yes it’s their body and such, so what’s our role as parents?

  19. In my area, children that are unkempt like this are just asking to have CPS called on their families. Lice is also a real issue with kids, and so much harder to deal with if it is all dready and tangled. In my very AP home, the choice is brush or have a short hair cut. It is their body and their choice, but some guidance is necessary for children.

    • I dont brush my 7 yr old daughters hair, shes very tender headed and its thick and wavy and she dissolves into screams and crying. Its not important enough to make her feel bad.
      Nobody is going to call CPS on me and if they did they can come here and find nothing wrong, what a waste of time for the agency!

      • But can’t you then try something else?!?! We ALL have tender scalps.
        Try extra conditioner, try a short hair cut, try a Tangle Tamer brush, try leave in conditioner???
        But just try something other than the easy way – Leaving It.
        Leave the dreads until she can make a conscious decision about it. ;)

  20. My daughter has her hair brushed… Sue me. I make her help me with chores around the house too. *gasp! She has very little in the way of decision making while shes a child. That’s because SHES A CHILD! She has no idea what is good or bad for her. And in life there is very little we control. She doesn’t like having her hair brushed at times… But then we don’t live in a society that will cater to her moods.

    It does not effect her interactions with creepy sexual predators. AT ALL. And to infer such is not only weird but truly dumb. If you can’t help your kids differentiate between creepy predators and you, their mother that cares for them and loves them… What does that say about you?

    • Oh and I also spank her on occasion when she does something that could harm her or others. 2-3 spats on the bottom with an open hand is not going to harm her or turn her into a serial killer. But even one spat gets all kinds of looks from most new age parent types. The way I figure it, I was spanked, I was a GREAT kid that never got into any trouble. I don’t beat her or leave welts. But I also don’t just ignore bad behavior. Why? Because the rest of the world won’t just ignore it.

      • Your just an authoritarian parent, what are you doing on a post about Attachment parenting?
        Spanking has been shown to have long lasting negative consequences and the whole “I was spanked and turned out fine.” is such a logical fallacy.

        Go be proud of your negative parenting somewhere else.

  21. LOL. Wow, the comments are crazy! Thanks for clarifying that you don’t “beat” your child. ????

    Anyway, I am so ignorant that I was seriously like, what is AP? Associated Press? And H has no hair, so I haven’t come across this issue.

    xo! I like you without the button!

  22. As the child of a mother who tortured me with hair brushing I applaud you. And not just because I wish I didn’t get my hair torn out every morning, but because you are right. I wasn’t allowed to cut it either. If I had a choice, short hair or torture every morning I would have chosen short hair, alas, that was not my choice to make in my world. So bravo,
    And… thank you so much, I teared up as I read what you wrote. Who knew something I never planned to write would touch so many people. Thank you.

  23. I loved that “Dear Daughter” piece, too! Didn’t know what to expect, but it was perfection, right?! And thank you so much for your kindness! We’re super excited! And I’ll need more than hair brushing advice once the third kiddo comes along!! xo

  24. Pingback: Attachment Parenting Hair Brushing is Not Something This Ap Mom Does

  25. I also find this to be ridiculous. Girls gotta either have her hair cut if it’s too hard for her to do by herself or does not want it brushed. The fact that this is a form of “assault to the body” is ridiculous. I had long hair that I HATED having brushed as well. Partly because my mother washed it too often, stripping it’s natural oils so it was tough to brush through. You only really need to wash your hair once a week, twice max.

  26. Oh sigh. this is ridiculous. AP hair styles — kids who have parents who respect their body choices when it is something that we can LET them have CONTROL over…

    hygiene beside the point. If i couldn’t wipe my son’s bum because he would have a fit.. i told him, that if YOU don’t wipe it, and I don’t wipe it, you will get sores, it will hurt, and it will not be pleasant. Guess what, that is giving them control, and awareness of the consequences.

    What are the consequences of not brushing hair?! not sores, that is for sure.

    what about hair? My son wants to grow his hair out and donate it to cancer. I said fine. you take care of it. if not, we cut it off. THOSE are controls he has. And i am proud to say, he takes care of his hair. Regardless of the fact i never brushed it when he was little.

  27. The timing of this post is interesting. Just this morning I had to leave for work early and left my spouse to get the kids ready for daycare (cleaned, fed, dressed). I met spouse and kids at a medical appointment in the afternoon and noticed that he clearly made no effort to brush her hair, which annoyed me to no end as I make that effort (usually faced with some degree of protest) virtually every morning. Perhaps I should have cut him some slack, although I expect his rationale more closely approximated “path of least resistence to get to work” rather then a philosophical position on AP.

    In any event, I do classify hair brushing in the hygiene category similar to wiping, bathing, teeth brushing, doctor visits, etc. – with the exception that I explain (albeit almost every day) to my 4 year old daughter that she can choose short hair if she doesn’t want it to be brushed. It is brushed so that it can be tied back to keep the food, drink, sunscreen, lice out. So far she’s picked the brushing – I see that as permission from a 4 year old.

    Jane, while we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, thanks for putting it out there for thought and giving me an excuse to procrastenate from my paying work.

  28. .we all pick and choose our battles. I will continue to brush my daughters hair until they can do so on their own (my 8 year old step daughter cant always get the knots in the back and will ask me to do so, Ive been in her life since age 2 so I guess for us it was a worth while assault). What I don’t do is ever force any of them to hug or kiss someone hello/goodbye if they dont want to be it friend or relative.

  29. I’m not knocking you for following a philosophy that works for you and your family but I can definitely say this won’t work for other cultures or people if different hair textures, even if they fully support AP or the notion to teach children that their body is their own and no one should violate that.

    I’m African American, my children are mixed with Jewish and Chinese, and have AA hair texture. NOT brushing their hair, when they want it or not, CAN lead to the hair locking up and that can cause pain when snarled by playtime, and embarrassment on the part of my kids as they get older and their peers ( of color or otherwise) wonder what the hell is wrong with their hair. And should they tell me they want to wear their hair in locks, this will also require routine maintenance that ‘s sometimes uncomfortable, from a loctician.

    Let’s not confuse this with trying to hide their hair texture or make it look “neat” or “orderly”, in the eyes of western anglo culture. Their fros sway in the breeze in a million directions when we go out. I’m referring to regular maintenance to remove snarls, knots, and literal debris that collects in their curls, or remove produce buildup that we apply (at my oldest child’s request) to achieve the look he wants to sport when he goes off to school. He hates getting his hair washed and combed, but loves the look he rocks when he steps onto the bus.

    Parenting is a complex and nebulous network of hard choices, pitfalls,and personal truths, but one truth I’ve had to learn the hard way based on my own experience, is that my job as a mom doesn’t always include the luxury of allowing them to do as they please because their body is their own. It requires that I give them what they need, even if they don’t want it, to maintain their health and that body I worked so hard to create and continue to grow. In a house with two autistic children and a clutch of sensory issues this includes but is not limited to tooth brushing, ass washing, hair washing, nail clipping, asthma medications when their oxygen saturation is dangerously low, foods that are nutrient rich but have a texture or taste they abhor, and yes, combing through their textured hair. This may also be cultural but my mom used to tell me that she wasn’t my friend, she was my mother, and that was so much more than a friend. It wasn’t until I had my own that I understood the depth of what she meant.

  30. Pingback: Mom has ‘philosophical’ reasons not to brush her kids’ hair | My Family Blog

  31. Hey there! Thanks for visiting my FB page. I enjoyed this article and all the interesting comments ;) I find it amusing that people could get so worked up over brushing hair. I could maybe understand if you didn’t wash their hair. But brushing? meh.

    I don’t brush my girl’s hair because they don’t like it and I don’t see the point in having a fight when there are so many more important things to fight about. And since I’ve never done more than run my fingers through my own hair, I never thought twice about it.

  32. that unbrushed hair is going to be a shaved head if your children pick up lice.

    i’m all for my children having command of their own bodies, but some things are absolutely necessary for hygienic purposes. my son hates having his teeth brush and hates when we have to do deeper cleans during his diaper changes due to a bladder condition, and he’ll push, fight, and cover to avoid us cleaning him, but it’s necessary.

    the way around “your body is yours and no one that you don’t want to touch it should touch it” is to explain that, and to explain who can touch them when and why, and that you will absolutely listen to them if and when they have to deal with inappropriate touching, and let them know that if there is someone that creeps them out, they at the very least never have to be with that person alone.

    i’m an attachment parent, but some of the things that i read that other AP parents do are just absurd and i’m nearly embarrassed to admit that i am AP even though i know that my instincts followed proper attachment.

  33. What about when your daughter hits teenage years? Is she allowed to have sleep overs with boys because “its her body?” Keep up this parenting style and you will be a very young grandma.

  34. Really? I can’t say anything new, other than repeating what’s been said before. It doesn’t matter if it’s their hair or not. The fact of the matter is, it needs to be taken care of. Just like we take care of their teeth, their health, food intake, clothing, etc. If they refused to wear clothes, would you let them go without? As a mother of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, putting clothes on is a daily struggle. I still make him wear clothes. I have to fight him to cut his toenails. We get in screaming battles over brushing his teeth. We get in battles over his hair as well. So, because he won’t allow us to brush it 90% of the time, it gets shaved.

    With my oldest daughter, I wasn’t battling her with brushing it. So, we cut it. And by cut it, I mean short. So now, she makes damn sure to brush her hair. And on the off chance that she DOES forget, there is always a brush or a comb within reach. There’s one in every corner of my house and diaper bag.

    Perhaps you don’t mind your child going out looking like a ragamuffin. But I sure do.

  35. I work with kids – or I did – in their homes, like a nanny. In one of my placements, the mum wanted her 3 girls to have their hair brushed each morning.

    I turned the morning struggle & moan into something they looked forward to by doing 4 things:
    1) I provided a ‘special’ hair brushing stool for them and it was ONLY for hair brushing;
    2) I allowed them to decide who went first, second & third;
    3) Whoever was on the stool got to choose a story for me to tell everyone while I did their hair;
    4) Finally, I always asked how they would like their hair done and what colour hair elastics they would like, which seemed to give them enough autonomy for them to be happy with the result.

    Meeting kids half way is always the best.

    • I do something similar with my daughter. I do understand that hairbrushing can feel like an “assault” if you’re pulling hard to get knots out and the like, but there are solutions that can turn it into a more positive if not wholly positive experience. I bought a detangling brush, special conditioner, and we sing during hairbrushing time to distract from the idea that hairbrushing hurts and also just to have fun and bond. I also think asking kids – girls especially – if they want to wear clips, ponytails, a braid, etc. – helps them get excited about it. I really do understand where the author is coming from about not wanting to make hairbrushing traumatic, but I also agree that teaching children how to care for and groom themselves by grooming and caring for them is part of parenting. It certainly doesn’t matter if kids have messy hair from a “looks” standpoint, but it’s also not going to hurt them to have combed hair, either. And messy, clumpy hair can hurt them if they get it caught on things, etc. Anyway – really interesting post and conversation, tho.

      • Oh – I guess I want to add one more thing. When you brush a child’s hair regularly, it remains easier to brush. So you’ve probably gotten yourself into a cycle there: not brushing makes it harder so it hurts so they don’t like it. Only adding that because no one has said it yet, and in case you’re thinking about trying brushing again, that’ll help.

  36. Pingback: Mom has ‘philosophical’ reasons not to brush kids’ hair | My Family Blog

  37. Hair brushing is abusive? Really? I would have taken hair brushing over the sexual abuse I suffered any day.
    If you don’t want to teach them good hygiene because you don’t want to have them crying, fine, just say that. Saying that teaching them good hygiene is the same as being beaten to a pulp or being forced upon is completely crossing the line.
    And by the way, I knew a girl who’s mother didn’t brush her hair or teeth or bather her regularly. The State had to remove her for child neglect. I have no doubt that you love your children, but hygiene is a *necessity* so if they can’t do it you have to suck it up and BE A MOTHER, not their best friend.

  38. I loved your ariticle.. I wish I didn’t have to brush my daughters hair but she is mixed (half balck / half Mexican) so her hair is very thick and curly. I am always told that she has “Good Hair” I still don’t understand that statement but Cool. I usually keep it braided to help me in the mornings for school but when it is down and I don’t brush it for like 2 days it gets very matted underneath and it is very painfull for her to get them out. So I am suck fighting her to braid it on Sundays. I hate hurting her by needing to untaggle all her hair to the point that I feel I have to give her an Army haircut. Her hair is to the top of her butt and she is 8 so it is a struggle. But I totaly see your views. Thank you for sharing.

  39. While I remain in non-judgement at the choices of others, my own viewpoint on the matter is simple… what works for some doesn’t work for all. Although we are AP’ers, and we stay at home a majority of the time, brushing hair everyday or at least every other day is just what we have to do to maintain our multi-cultural hair. Being part Native American, African American & Caucasians with curl.. we’ve got to use a brush or we will dread. I’m not judging the dready heads either. Dreads will and do require a LOT of maintenance. And our 4 year old is not ready for that kind of responsibility. We all have curly hair. Being part African, there’s a bit of kink to the curl. Brushing is not always fun, even with a Tangle Teaser brush, made special to not rip hair. Although, I am as gentle as possible every time, and I even offer the 4yr old breastmilk while he’s getting brushed! ((How’s that for AP??)) We also explain that keeping his hair clean is important, and part of that is getting it brushed. It is his choice to cut it or keep it long and we explain the consequences of each choice. I’m not aiming to please others by brushing mine and my children’s hair. It’s simply a must for our family, like a few of the other commenters above. We respect your choices and remain in non-judgement about the state of your child’s hair and hope that you will do the same for ours. Every person deserves respect, and I believe teaching children to respect themselves and others as complete, whole & loving beings, no matter their physical appearance, is most important.

  40. I had to comment because I find your reasoning to be faulty. First of all, unkempt children, whether true or not, tend to give off the impression that they are not loved or cared about. That may or may not be the case, but that is the reality of what that look says to people who don’t know the child or family personally. Secondly, people looking to exploit a child (like a child molester) typically seek out victims who appear to be not cared for. Additionally, child predators are veru good at getting their victims to ‘consent’ to the predatory touching. So it appears to me that this philosophy of yours in fact may make it more likely that your children could be victimized, because they are children who look like they aren’t cared for, but are nonetheless susceptible to predatory reasoning.

    • *susceptible simply because they are children. Predators have a lot more practice using their predatory reasoning on children than children do spotting it.

  41. What? Is this for real? Is Candid Camera filming my expression while reading this post?
    It is one thing to be an advocate for your child’s hopes, dreams and aspirations, it is another to enable your kids to become stubborn and egotistical human beings. The attitude of, “it’s MY hair, it’s My clothes, IT’S MY WAY” is incredibly self destructive for children to adopt. You’re setting your kids up to fail later in life when they have to learn (the hard way) that you have to do things you don’t like.
    Also, I agree with the mass of others asking about your children’s toenails, etc. My 4 year old used to scream her head off while getting her toe nails clipped, but what was I to do? Did I systematically abuse her until she got over it and accepted it?

  42. I think that by calling it an assault you are belittling those who have been actually assaulted. Brushing teaches good grooming skills. Yes, some days I don’t chase my two year old down to brush her hair but normally, I do. Sometimes she throws a fit other days she likes it. Parenting is not about your child’s whims. If you see hair brushing as an assault of any kind, I think you’re doing it wrong.

  43. *record screech*

    Okay, I understand not cutting their hair.
    I understand not circumcising.
    I understand not making them conform to bull***t gender stereo types such as dresses/ties/whatever.

    But not BRUSHING their hair? What about their toenails and fingernails? What about ‘forcing them’ to bathe when they don’t want to? Why would you want to “MAKE” them have basic hygiene? I mean, that’s totally shoving conformist standards and not allowing them to be themselves.Or.not.

    I think you are going too far. Come on, as a parent, you are responsible for making sure your kids are relatively clean, fed and cared for. Brushing hair is a basic thing. You would consider a pet owner who allowed their pets to have mats to be neglectful if they didn’t take care of them. This isn’t deeply philosophical. This is lazy parenting. AP isn’t lazy parenting.

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  45. Here is the problem: I don’t believe for a millisecond that you have never done anything to your child’s body that they didn’t want you to do. If your baby ever cried during a diaper change, then you are being disingenuous.

    Hair brushing isn’t just for aesthetics. Brushing your hair improves circulation, removes dead skin cells, and distributes the healthy oils from your scalp to the rest of the hair. Unbrushed hair can lead to damage to the hair shaft, dry or brittle hair, and painful tangles.

    Part of preventing abuse is teaching a child that her body should be treated with respect. Part of respecting your body is taking care of it. This why we make children brush their teeth, wipe their bottoms, bathe, and brush their hair. It can be a battle, but children are worth the time and effort it takes to teach them to respect themselves and their bodies.

  46. THANKYOU!
    I finally feel @ peace with my decision to NOT stress the hair do issue.
    Too many mums give me their “spiel” on bribing, or rewarding etc & even threatening to cut it off in their sleep!
    A stress less attitude here, & nothing but a loving mumma who “demonstrates” a nice “do” … One day, she will catch on lol

  47. Thank you for the shout-out, and thank you for the lesson! There’s a family at my son’s karate dojo that seems pretty AP, and the kids have some seriously jacked-up hair. Now I know why, and I’m nodding in approval. So glad the boy and I are on the same page with his blue Mohawk.

  48. I’m not sure brushing hair can be equated to abuse or an act of violence. I used to hate having my hair brushed as a kid but on the days I didn’t allow it to be done, I’d end up with tangles so bad they’d have to be cut out.

  49. I used to not brush my kids’ hair if they didn’t want me to, nor make them take baths or showers (though I did encourage them to make that choice when they needed it). I even go one step farther. I don’t cut their hair until they ask for a hair cut. A lot of people think I’m crazy for that and not piercing my daughter’s ears as a baby, but you said it, it’s their bodies! They should have the right to make decisions about their own bodies without me forcing my choicesvon them. That’s how I would want someone to treat me! Obviously when it comes to a health or safety issue, I’ll step in, but beyond that, their bodies, their choice.

  50. Good Job, Mom. Way to not teach your kids about good hygiene. the reason we are parents is because children need guidance. So do you not make them brush their teeth either? Or take showers?Seriously because you make this big proclamation about their bodies being their own, I can only assume you have some dirty ass kids. That is super cool Way to go.

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  52. After not brushing my daughter’s hair, we had to cut a lot of it off due to the fact that we couldn’t clean whatever it was that was matted into the back of her head. Ugh! I do appreciate the point about teaching kids that they are in charge of their own bodies and that no one should touch them against their will. That said, I will always make an exception for brushing teeth. If i have to put the kid in a headlock to brush their teeth, dammit, that’s what I’m gonna do.

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