Updated: Oct 5, 2020
Hi everybody! This post has nothing to do with me cutting Charlie’s hair, because whatever I decide to do with Charlie’s hair has no relevance to you, or does it?
You see, this week on Insta stories I kinda got upset. It takes a lot for me to get upset (except bad drivers, they upset me, like who gave them their license anyway? you feel me?) I got upset for a few reasons.
The first and most important reason is
because I watched my son pull at his hair in anger, cry and scream and say “ I HATE MY HAIR, I WANT TO CUT MY HAIR SO I CAN LOOK LIKE A BOY, LIKE PERSON SO & SO” I won’t name "person so & so" because they are irrelevant. What is relevant in this post is the fact that my 3 year old who is the sweetest, most sensitive, loving, gentle, caring boy you will ever meet (I’m not saying that ‘cause he’s my kid, it’s actually how people describe him) does not have the level of comprehension to express himself in that manner and yet he was.
I know at daycare he doesn’t get made fun of for his long hair, I know at home and with our friends he doesn’t get made fun for looking like a girl due to his long hair. As a matter of fact in our circle, people encourage him and embrace his long hair. He’s known as the cool kid with the California hair. He’s always loved having his hair blow dried, styled and sometimes even asks for a ponytail even though he never wears it in a bun, he just likes having the ponytail on his wrist like a bracelet. I’ve always encouraged my child to embrace his looks, and I’ve always encouraged my child to explore and embrace being who he is. But here he was hating something about himself and it broke my heart into a million pieces. How could someone so perfect and so little already start to hate things about himself? Having learned to love myself authentically in my later years, I’ve made it a point as a parent to teach Charlie to love himself as he is, so where was he learning this hate?
Sadly, I know exactly where he's learning it from. I don’t need to divulge that information to you, but trust that I know it to be true because I’ve witnessed it. I’ve read the comments, I’ve heard it come out of these specific individuals mouths: “cut his hair already he looks like a girl”, “it looks like he has a mop on his head”, “he’s had long hair for long enough, its time for a change”, “he’s not a child anymore cut his hair so he can look like a big boy.” etc etc. You see these adults have their own agendas, their own judgements, their own opinions and have decided that it’s okay to impose their thoughts onto an impressionable 3 year old. I don’t know about you, but as a mother, this makes me sad. These people aren't paying attention to the fact that when they say these things around or to my little boy, they are potentially causing long term damage to my Charlies self esteem. They are so fixated on worrying about how people will view Charlie, how people will perceive Charlie based on his hair, that they don’t stop for a minute to think about how damaging it is for a little child to think it’s “BAD” to have long hair. These people don’t realize that lack of self worth, lack of self confidence and lack of self love originates from what we hear and see at a very young age from the adults around us. So basically, because these individuals feel so entitled to be judgemental and critical of a 3 year old they don’t give two poops if it causes insecurities in my son. That to me is MIND BLOWING.
Unfortunately, my hands are tied and I am not able to protect my child from these people. I also know there will be more people like them as Charlie gets older. What I can do is continually teach my child to love himself, know his self worth, accept himself and embrace himself for who is he. My role as his mother and as a parent is to gently guide him through life, to advise him, support him and love him AS HE IS, not to teach him to hate himself because he doesn’t look like someone else. I will always give Charlie the opportunity to explore his choices. This is why when we shop for clothes, I let him pick his outfits, so if he wants a pink shirt I’ll buy it for him. This is why I let Charlie try on my high heels when he asks and if he wants a doll or something “feminine” looking I'd buy it for him. This is why if he wants to play with my make up I let him. It’s not because I want him to be a girl (and if he ever told me he felt he was I would support him 1000%), it’s because it’s Charlie's right to explore the world in front of him and it’s Charlie's right to find himself; psychically, mentally and spiritually.
We cannot change other people, we cannot force other people to see the damaging things they do and say, we cannot ask people to do things that are beyond their capacity. What we can do and what I am vowing to do is have a voice for the Charlies of the world. You know why? Because what's happening to Charlie isn’t rare or uncommon, he is one of hundreds of thousands of children who are attacked, judged and criticized for just being themselves and not being the person someone else wants them to be.
Take for example, this story I came across on facebook where a boy simply wanted a butterfly painting on his face but his parents criticized and judged him for it.
What about the little girl who loves to play with all the boys and prefers boys clothes over girls, so her parents and family members tell her “you’re so un-lady like” and “little girls don’t dress like that”.
There’s also that little boy who is naturally skinny and so his family says to him “you need to eat more you are too skinny”, “why are you so skinny?”.
Then there is the little girl who is called fat by her family because she’s just naturally shaped differently and so they try and force her on a diet from a young age.
Lastly, there’s the kid who is naturally good at soccer so parents decides he’s going to be an all star soccer player and don’t give him the opportunity to have life because they are so consumed with ensuring their son fulfills their dreams rather then allowing him to find and fulfill his own.
I could go on and on about situations like this that happen everyday in our society. Sadly, this kind of judgement and bullying is one of the root causes of depression and mental issues because children are taught to think poorly of themselves. If you don't believe me check BPD Central, Bullying Statistics, Psychology Today, this other article from Psychology Today, or this article from Controlling Parents. With Google at our fingertips the evidence and proof is in the pudding. There are a plethora of articles that break down just how depilating criticism, judgement and attacks can be for a young child's development.
These mental insecurities then seep their way into adolescence and adulthood and very possibly could be the root of mental illness and substance abuse for many.
I know I am not a perfect parent nor a perfect person. I don't think the perfect parent or person exists. We are all trying to be the best we can for our kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews etc. What I do know is that I will always be a positive role model for Charlie. I will always teach him acceptance and self love and most importantly I will teach him that other peoples criticisms and attacks are not important. What is important is his ability to accept himself as he is and to accept others as they are.
Here's a great article from Huffington Post on how to be a positive role model for your children. I also love this article from Education and Behaviour on the importance of being a positive role model.
Finally, my favourite article comes from verywellfamily.com it's titled "What are Traits of Good Parents?" I love all the tips they give but my fav is "8. Look at what their child needs--not at what they want their child to be or do."
If you feel that maybe you haven't been the best parent, I mean what parent hasn't felt this at one point or another, don't beat yourself up. The power is in your hands to become a better version of yourself. Not only for you, but for the little miracles you've been gifted to raise.
I hope after reading this article, I've helped shed some light on how important it is to be a positive and encouraging influence in children's lives. Mostly, I hope we can all just learn to love and embrace these little babes for who they are and allow them the opportunity to develop as unique incredible individuals.