• Wed, Aug 21 - 11:30 am ET

Let’s Debate Whether This AP Mama Refusing To Brush Her Kid’s Hair Is Awesome Or Neglectful

Attachment Parenting Hairbrushing A mom over at an AP parenting blog has said that you can always tell what child is being raised with attachment parenting by the fact they have messy un-combed hair. I was an AP, well, up until my kids started school, and I still agree with the fundamentals of AP parenting and all that. But I always made sure my kids had brushed hair. This is such an interesting concept and I totally get what this AP mama is saying and I agree with her! I Do! Here is what she says from her blog Nothing By The Book.com:

 

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.

YES! Right on! No one should ever touch you without your permission and I fully agree with that. I think it’s important to teach kids from a very young age that they have dominion over their own little bodies and no one can touch them unless they want them to.

But the idea of sending my kids out into this great big world with crazy, tangled messy hair is not something I ever did, or that I could ever do. Now that they are older I just hand them the brush or tell the to go fix their haaaaaar, but when they were little I always brushed it, no matter how much they fussed. I was gentle and slow when I did it, and I aways styled it how they wanted, but I still did it.

I did it because I think people should look kept in this world. I think people should bathe and put on clean clothes and brush their teeth and hair. I teach my kids that as long as these things are done, how they look, what size they are, what brands they wear, how attractive they are, is not as important as how they are on the inside. I teach them that no one can touch their bodies unless they want them to. But my daughter has crazy ridic long curly hair and if I don’t have her brush it and I don’t help her brush it , it dreds like crazy and she ends up with giant matts in it and if she wants to have long hair she needs to understand she has to take care of it. If I let her go even a day without it being picked or combed she ends up with monster tangles, and then having to remove these is always painful for both of us.

I agree with the sentiment behind this mom’s decision, but I still want my kids to look “minded after” when they are out in public, even though I shouldn’t care what anyone thinks. For me it’s like I wouldn’t let them go out somewhere with dirty clothes on, so having brushed hair is just part of me wanting them to appear “clean” to the outside world.

(Image: Blogspot)

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  • Hercules03

    This lady is delusional.

  • Mystik Spiral

    I buy the sentiment, but that’s as far as it goes. What if her kid wants to go to school naked? What if the kid wants to eat ice cream for breakfast? Her body, her choice, right? Um, yeah, no. It’s a parent’s JOB to teach their kids how to take good care of themselves, and sometimes this includes telling your kid that she has to brush her hair or you’re going to brush it for her.

    • Sara610

      I couldn’t agree more.

    • Katie L.

      This is exactly what I was coming here to say. What if they don’t want to wear shoes in the winter? What if they decide that they don’t want a bath for a week and a half. I understand teaching your child that their bodies are theirs, but you’re their mother not the creepy guy at the park. I’m so over this idea that kids are mini grown-ups who are capable of adult decisions and repercussions.

      Also? Awesome name.

    • Katja Yount

      Yeah, but I heard that she’s thinking about changing it.

    • Katie L.

      You? I love. I want to up vote this a million times.

    • Mystik Spiral

      Lol. :D

    • Annie

      I don’t agree with the ice cream, naked stuff because that might be overkill, but totally get where you’re coming from. Hair brushing, oral hygiene, things that could *hurt* them if they don’t take responsibility.

    • JLH1986

      I don’t know. My god kids ask for ice cream for every meal… lol

    • Psych Student

      And for little bitty babies, we trim their nails, give them baths, change their dipers, etc. Yes, it is important to teach children that it’s not ok to let people touch you if you don’t want them to, but we (hopefully) take them to the doctor and the dentist and let both poke and prod and give shots as needed. We teach children that some people can touch them. It is good, as children grow up and are able to do things for themselves, that you ask permission before touching them or giving hugs (it can be a tough thing to do, but perhaps just don’t push for hugs if they aren’t interested) which can teach them that no one can touch them without permission. But, again, we don’t do that with little babies.

  • Annona

    Seems a little nutty to me. Yes, I agree with the idea behind it, that we all have control over our own bodies. But learning how to adequately groom yourself is something that children have to be taught. If the child refuses a bath for two months, is the AP standpoint going to be that it’s OK for her child to be that kid that the other kids call “PeePee”? After all, it’s her body…if she doesn’t want to wash her ass you can’t make her, right? My mother had a hard time getting me to understand that if I wanted to have long hair I needed to maintain it…and for a long time when I was a child my hair was kept short because I wouldn’t brush it, I cried like I was being murdered when she did, and I looked like a hot mess with it long. That taught me that I need to take care of my hair. It didn’t teach me that it was OK for a stranger to touch my privates.

    • Amber Starr

      I swear, I am a 10 year old inside. Your statement about ‘washing her ass’ has had me giggling like a dork for a full 5 minutes.

      Also, I agree with the rest of what you’ve said.

    • Ptownsteveschick

      Everytime I say I am going to go take a shower, my husband says”ok go wash your butt”
      Guess what my 2yr old now says everytime I tell her I’m getting in the shower? It is endlessly hilarious.

    • historychick79

      Is it bad that this reminds me of my husband saying ‘go jump in the shower?’ Every time he says that to me, I think (often aloud) if it’s okay to turn the water on too, because just hopping up and down in there doesn’t do much.

    • Amber Starr

      Hahaha! My fiance and I say the same thing to each other. I like your style! :)

    • Annona

      I’m one of those grownups that finds it hilarious when children say “naughty” words. Even “butt” would get me, so the idea of a 2 year old telling someone to go wash their butt gave me a good case of the giggles.

    • AugustW

      I’m trying to teach my daughter the proper words for things, and of all the words my speech delayed kiddo chooses to harp on, it’s vagina. Her grandmother is mortified, but man, I can’t stop laughing.

    • AugustW

      Haha when I need to do a diaper check I tell my toddler “hey, let’s do a butt check”. If the check is positive, it leads to “okay, let’s change your butt”.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      ME TOO! I was all like “heh heh she said ASS!”

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      My middle daughter has difficult to brush, curly hair and we just gave up on having it long because between her hating brushing and me hating fighting with her and possibly hurting her to brush it, we cut it shoulder length. She is MUCH happier with it short and easy. When she gets old enough to really do it herself we will revisit long hair (she’s only 5, she brushes it but I always have to go back and get the more difficult tangles).

  • EB

    So how far does she take this idea? If hair is part of the kid’s body and they can refuse to have it brushed what about their teeth? 99% of the time my toddler doesn’t want to brush her teeth (beyond sucking the training toothpaste off) so, what, I’m supposed to let her teeth rot out of her mouth?

    • Emil

      I would have CPS called if people knew what I used to have to do to brush my daughter’s teeth.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      I hear you! I used to have to practically SIT on my kid to get her to brush.

  • Rachel Sea

    That’s going too far. There are a million ways in which parents have to be dominant over their children, and their bodies, from setting bedtimes, to stopping them from running into the street. You can’t let a person who has no concept of long term consequences have sole charge of decisions that have far reaching repercussions.

  • NicknamesAreDull

    I agree with the author of the blog that children should know that their bodies are only theirs, it’s how I was raised and how I am raising my child. But, I don’t think that makes it OK to completely ignore personal hygiene, because the kid doesn’t want to do it.

    I imagine a school-aged child going out with a rat’s nest on their head and getting made fun of. Why? I was rat nest head girl, because my parents had a similar mindset. I have thick, curly hair that’s unforgiving, tending to it was a pain in the booty and I hated it, I didn’t want to take care of it.. so it grew and grew, tangled up and grew a mind of its own… it was awful. If you looked in the center of it, the hair would devour your soul and grow more. I was basically FroMedusa.

    I think that teaching children that they own their bodies (and they call the shots) is an amazing thing to teach a child, but parents also need to teach children how to care for those bodies. I think that not brushing a child’s hair because they don’t want to would add a negative spin to something that should be 100% positive.

  • Hibbie

    Teaching children about their own bodily autonomy is excellent, as is instilling the confidence to defend that autonomy. Drawing a parallel between brushing hair and physical/sexual assault is doing a serious disservice, however.

    There are going to be times in a child’s life where an adult steps in and makes decisions that will affect that autonomy. These occasions can range from benevolent to malevolent. I wouldn’t want my kid to think a teacher making her hold hands while crossing the street (something she hates but has to do) is on par with someone slapping her.

    • Blueathena623

      Excellent point!

    • alice

      well said.

      what child enjoys being TOLD to do anything though? “brush your hair!” “NO!” “go to school!” “NO!” ::AP parent shrugs away in defeat::

    • AugustW

      They may not enjoy it consciously but every kid “wants” it instinctively. The world is a big and scary place and they don’t always feel in control in the beginning (“holy crap, what is this stuff coming out of me? Why am I on my back? Oh! Crap! I’m on my front now! Help!”) so they need someone else to step up and be in control.

    • Louise

      The whole physical assault thing is weird. We need to touch our children, we wash their bums for heavens sake. We can do this because we are parents and there is a strong bond of love and trust (or their should be). Eventually they learn bodily autonomy from us and then they become more independent, able to set their own physical boundaries (which get broader as they get older) that we as trusted parents have to respect.

      I had neglectful parents that didn’t touch me that much but still disrespected my boundaries as a child so much so that I was enmeshed with them. I did not have my own personality. Respecting boundaries is much more than just touch, its about knowing your child emotionally. Connecting with them.
      I wished I was taken care of, and shown how to take care of myself. This AP seems a bit over the top. It seems like its more about following rules then following what your child (who is unique) needs.

  • Paul White

    So, did you not wipe their bums either, because, well, they tend to squirm and fuss while you do and their bodies are theirs?

    I’m just not seeing this.

    • Emmali Lucia

      Not to mention touching their privates without their permission is (In her argument) setting them up for accepting sexual assault than touching their hair.

  • telepanda

    FFS, did she not change her kids’ diapers when they protested about it? I mean, a diaper change on an unwilling toddler can verge on violence, but Very Bad Things happen when the poop sits around where it doesn’t belong.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      “Verge on violence” is too tame for what my son would do, lol. More like “full on violence with a side of pain” Pain for me.

    • AugustW

      I used to laugh watching my sister in law lay her leg across her son to change him.
      Then I had a toddler.
      I don’t laugh anymore.

  • TngldBlue

    I think part of teaching kids that their body is their own is also teaching them to respect and keep that body healthy. My brother stopped brushing his long hair and let it dread. He eventually had to shave it all off when it began to mold (matted hair doesn’t dry quickly). And mold was just one of the many problems he had. This mom is going to have to do the same to her daughter or, if she’s lucky, spend days painfully picking out the tangles and knots. Not an appropriate way to teach this lesson at all.

  • keelhaulrose

    I wonder what else isn’t mandatory in the house. One of my daughters would never be bathed if it were up to her, and that’s a lot closer to touching private parts than brushing hair.
    It’s a hygiene issue, and it’s a sanitation issue. Ask anyone who has had dreads, if you don’t do some maintenance they smell like death, and can really irritate your head.

  • Blueathena623

    On the one hand, I agree with part of the sentiment that hair shouldn’t be a hill we die on. My mom tried that battle and finally said ” if you don’t brush it, it will be cut off.” Guess who had short hair for several years?
    However, by brushing my hair, my mother IN NO WAY conditioned me to accept assault. Period.
    All that being said, I see a lot of classism and even maybe some racism in this. When well-off white kids have un brushed hair, its called being hippie or crunchy. When poor kids have messed up hair, its dirty and neglect.

    • Paul White

      I call it gross either way personally…but then, I don’t see a lot of it.

    • Blueathena623

      I’ve seen it a few times. I know everyone is sick of my rich school/poor school stories, but here is one more.
      At rich school we have a lice outbreak. Nurse can’t check one girls hair because it is so gross. Calls the mom to tell her. Mom says its “an exercise in autonomy.” Of course no report is made despite the fact that her kids hair can’t even be checked for lice it is so matted.
      At poor school, we are told to make a note if students hair is un brushed so we can check the next day and see if it was a one time thing or the start of neglect. If a student had two days of unbrushed hair I was supposed to report it to a higher-up. Not saying CPS would automatically be called just on two days, but it was a big enough sign that it needed to be recorded.

    • CK

      I think the difference is that there are different types of neglect that come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Those with more money, if they are neglectful, tend to be more emotionally neglectful. Those with less money, may tend to be more physically neglectful. (Of course, I’m not saying that rich don’t get beat, or that poor kids don’t get verbal abuse. There are no black and whites when it comes to abuse.) My point is that those with money will be fed, and bathed more than those without. That can be dependent upon the fact that poorer parents don’t have money to spend on food, or the water bill, while wealthier parents don’t have to worry about that.

    • Blueathena623

      I totally understand that, but I still don’t think its fair of the original author to not at least acknowledge the fact that not everyone who doesn’t brush their kids hair is going to be written off as “crunchy.”

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      Hey, sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.

      *earworm*

    • Blueathena623

      Nah, I already have “brusha brusha brusha, get the new Ipana” stuck in my head ;)

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      what the fucking fuck I can’t even

    • Tinyfaeri

      The rich school could learn a lot from the poor school. Nasty is nasty, and the one mother having money and being bizarrely proud of it kind of makes it worse.

    • Blueathena623

      I have to clarify something, because I loved the rich school and it is a fabulous place, and I hated to leave it (but I wanted to stay home with my kid more).
      The school is made up of several mini-schools. All but one of the mini-schools focus on a particular disability. The one mini school for regular kids is the ultra-rich posh pre-k/kindergarten program. People put up with crazy rich mom’s attitude because her tuition check allows the school to provide services to kids with disabilities for low or no cost.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I’m glad that option is available to kids who need it… But if her kid didn’t have a disability or another reason for why her hair was as dirty as it sounded above, I still don’t think there’s much excuse for it. Also, if a kid’s hair can’t be checked for lice during an outbreak, they should not be allowed in school until it can be no matter how much money they shell out. But you are correct that I don’t know the full story – all we have is what’s above. :)

    • Blueathena623

      No, there is totally no excuse for it. Believe me, none of the staff, including the nurse, thought it was funny. The only reason I clarified is because I do love the place so much that for some reason it just kept bothering me that some random Internet person (re. you) might think that all the students and parents are like that. Despite the fact that you don’t even know the school’s name.

    • Tinyfaeri

      Oh, no. I’m sure most of the kids were fine. Like with grapes, I assume there’s at least one or two “bad” ones in every bunch, but most are perfectly great. Granted, the percentage of inconsiderate grapes seems to go up a little with parental income, but that could just be my experiences. ;-)

  • Amber

    I think it’s a little crazy that people are comparing not forcibly brushing a child’s hair to not providing adequate nutrition or education and not changing an infant’s diapers.

    Those are not in the same camp at all. Not even close. As attached as some people are to their hair, we don’t actually need it at all for good health.

    • EB

      I don’t think people would be reacting like this if she’d said “I don’t brush my kid’s hair and hair really isn’t that big a deal so I’m going to choose my battles and let it go.” What people are responding to is her rationale for why she doesn’t make her child brush her hair: “no one…has a right to do anything to their bodies that they don’t want them to do.” It’s that logic that people are extending to other areas of hygiene, nutrition, etc.

    • Amber

      It’s not logic. It’s a straw man. Hair brushing, while socially expected, does not impact a person’s hygiene.

      She didn’t say her daughter is dirty, she said she doesn’t brush her hair. Huge difference.

    • EB

      OK, I’ll stop trying to speak for others and speak for myself – I don’t care if she doesn’t brush her kid’s hair. What I am wondering is whether she uses that same rationale for other things (like the hygiene issues mentioned) and if not, how does she justify that? Does she then say, “no one has a right to do anything to their bodies that they don’t want them too… Unless they have to for health and safety reasons?” Frankly if she had qualified her statement like that I would have shut up.

    • alice

      it’s not a straw man at all.

      her words: “Their wild, messy hair? Part of the lesson that they’re learning that no one…has a right to do anything to their bodies that they don’t want them to do.”

      we’re all asking “what are the other parts of this lesson?”

      and, for instance, how could the child ever glean this lesson from the hair brush example when he would experience undoubtedly COUNTLESS examples to counter this lesson: wiping him bum when he doesn’t want it, holding his hand, etc.

    • whiteroses

      Depending on the situation, we actually do. Lice carries diseases, mold is dangerous, and a dirty head of hair can attract bugs.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Myth buster time! Lice like clean hair better because it’s more slippery and they can move through it easier – gross I know

    • whiteroses

      Oh, I know that. But just because hair looks clean, doesn’t mean it is- you know?

    • Amber

      You don’t get lice from not brushing your hair. Also, brushing and washing your hair are two different things.

    • whiteroses

      I didn’t say you got lice from not brushing your hair. It would be very difficult to check your child’s head for lice (should you ever need to do so) if they never had it brushed, though.

    • Amber

      In addition, we do NOT need hair for good health. I was correct when I said that.

    • whiteroses

      Ok… here’s your cookie? No need to be nasty about it.

      I should have clarified. No, you do not need it for good health. Bald people lead perfectly healthy lives. But if you have hair, it should be taken care of, or else it can and will affect your health. Lice isn’t pretty. There’s also a reason why 18th century health manuals included recipes for killing worms living on a person’s scalp- because if hair isn’t washed or otherwise taken care of, it’s basically a breeding ground for bacteria.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      This is such a first world, upper middle class white lady problem. As another commenter mentioned, in a poor neighborhood the mother would have CPS called on her for being negligent. I’m not saying that would be right, obviously. I’m just putting it into perspective.

    • Amber

      I don’t agree. I was below the poverty line when my son was in elementary school and I often didn’t brush his hair because it sent him into screaming fits (autism). But it was washed. No one ever called CPS on me or accused me of neglect.

      I think people are confusing unbrushed hair with disgusting, matted, greasy, obviously dirty hair. I don’t understand why everyone is doing that. They are not the same thing.

    • Blueathena623

      How long was his hair?

    • Amber

      Past his shoulders. Cutting it would also cause a breakdown.

      I kept him clean but honestly I would not have cared if it became dreads. It’s his hair.

    • Blueathena623

      Is it fine or wavy or curly? I am 100% not judging your parenting, obviously what works well with your son is the way to go, but if my thick wavy white-lady hair isn’t brushed at least every couple of days, it gets so snarled that it can’t be washed effectively. Even after washing my hair was yucky because I didn’t brush. Which is why my mom made me get a Mia Farrow haircut at he start of 2nd grade.

    • Amber

      His hair is thick and very full. He can stand in the shower with the water beating down on his head for 10 minutes and the underside of his hair won’t even be damp.

      I forced the hair washing issue because that is a hygiene issue. Fortunately for me though, the shower didn’t send him into hysterics.

      But his hair didn’t look good. It was definitely a mess. If a teacher ever got close enough to inspect it though, they would be able to smell and feel that it was washed regularly. I maintain there is a difference between dirty hair and clean, unbrushed hair.

    • Blueathena623

      I agree that there is a difference between dirty and clean, unbrushed, but can we also agree that different hair types respond differently? I can tell you unequivocally that if my hair isn’t brushed at least semi-regularly it becomes difficult to get clean. If I wear my hair down for a day, by the end of the day I have small mats on the underside of my hair by my neck from my hair swinging. As a kid, I did not brush semi-regularly, unless my mom forced me, and my hair was gross even after washing.

      Again, this is an issue where we are all coming from different places with different perspectives, and unless the original author weighs in with some qualifiers (like what’s the longest one of her kids went without brushing, etc.) we will continue to be at odds.

    • Tinyfaeri

      It’s a different circumstance.
      The child mentioned in the blog post presumably doesn’t have a disability that would cause her to (please excuse the pun) wig out if her hair is brushed or cut.
      I seriously doubt anyone would have a problem with the mother’s decision to not brush her child’s hair if she had said, “I don’t brush my child’s hair because I can’t, because she gets so upset that it’s bad for her when I try to, and I can’t cut it or she gets just as upset.” She didn’t say that. She said (paraphrasing), “I don’t brush my child’s hair because she doesn’t like it, and she has total control over what happens to any part of her body because it’s hers…and because I’m not brushing her hair when she doesn’t want me to, hopefully she will be better able to withstand attempted assault or peer pressure later in life.”
      The former is reasonable. The latter is a nice sentiment in some ways, but logically kind of silly.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      ROFL @ “wig out”

    • Tinyfaeri

      :-D

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Plenty of kids’ hair would be just what you described after a day or two. And the commenter above (who works in a low income school) said her directions were clear. If a child is unkempt one for two days in a row, it was enough of an issue to report it to the higher ups (though not yet enough to call CPS).

    • Amber

      Hair does not become disgustingly dirty if you wash it regularly.

      Styling is not required for cleanliness.

    • Blueathena623

      I don’t think they are comparable, but I wish she had elaborated somewhat, or discussed other areas of hygiene. Because where is the line?

  • Tara

    Well, crap. I don’t brush my kids hair every day because I am lazy and girl has super curly hair that takes a good 45 minutes to comb properly. Does this mean I have to start combing it every day so people don’t mistake me for being all AP?

    • JD

      Hah, I was just thinking this. My daughter’s hair is crazy and curly but I am lazy and some days am just not up for battle. She is starting pre-k soon and every (couple) day(s) when I brush it I think how much it’s going to suck and rule my life when I can’t have her waking around like a street urchin.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I do tiny braids a lot and keep them in for about a week

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      I used to put mine in big side braids after my showers so that I wouldn’t have to brush the next day.

  • dwasifar karalahishipoor

    This is a problem that will solve itself, as these children grow up and die early due to refusing vaccinations and normal medical treatment.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    I refuse to braid my toddler son’s wild, curly hair because it is time consuming and painful. If he were a girl there are other styles I could do that are pretty and not as painful.

    It is often suggested that I do not do my son’s hair because I let him wear it curly and that if I won’t braid it, I need to cut it. The truth is, I wash, deep condition, de-tangle and moisturize his hair and for some reason find myself defensing my decision to let him wear his hair curly but I think its super cute!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Curly hair is SO MUCH WORK. It’s my third job I swear

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      Just promise me to never put a skeleton brush in those curls. My head still hurts from my mother’s attempts at brushing mine as a kid.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I wonder if that has something to do with gender roles too. I started getting the whole “you need to cut his hair” crap with my son WAY sooner than with my daughters. My MIL was the biggest culprit, because according to her, anything not a crew cut was not “manly” and god forbid my son not be MANLY at age TWO.

  • SDA

    This is dumb. Guess what, when you parent children, you have to touch their bodies, whether they like it or not. You have to help brush teeth, bathe, wipe asses, brush hair, change clothes, etc….part of the job. If my daughter had it her way, she would run around in only a diaper full of poop all day long the way she carries on and screams and cries when I try to dress her or change her diaper.

    • Emmali Lucia

      I’m willing to bet, with the screaming and crying your daughter does, the lady at the blog would accuse you of some sort of assault.

      People be crayyy crayyy

    • AugustW

      Between the diaper changes, car seat strapping-into and the hair brushings, I’m shocked somebody in my apartment complex hasn’t called CPS. My kid is loud and opinionated, and her opinion is “no!”

    • allie

      Mine would just opt for naked all day and pooping in a corner, skip the diaper altogether : )

      But yup agree…as parents it our job to teach them how to take care of themselves AND to protect their bodies. And they can be two different things.

    • DMH

      And here I thought my son was the only one that literally screams and cries when I change his diaper. Seriously, it’s embarrassing. I’m always afraid that the neighbors will think I’m abusing him, the way he screams.

    • AugustW

      It doesn’t always work, but I’ve found that pullup diapers are less “humiliating” for toddlers. Something about having to lay still, on their back, for more than 2 seconds is just torture.

    • AugustW

      I do wonder how this body autonomy works with an infant and a diaper.

  • Ptownsteveschick

    I think teaching basic hygiene should be a part of parenting, AP or not. I definitely have a lot of AP in my parenting style, but I would never imagine not cleaning or brushing my kid’s hair because they didn’t like it. Maybe I am just lucky to have an easy going girl who will go along with me making everything into a game.
    To me it is important to make sure my kids learn to take pride in their appearances, not to please other’s but because they should treat their bodies with the respect it deserves by keeping it clean and healthy. I have crazy curly thick hair and having it tangled is physically uncomfortable. Those poor kids.

    • Katherine Handcock

      This is pretty well my take on it too. My kids get to make most decisions about their bodies — what clothes they wear, if they like their hair long or short, etc. — but I do feel there are some things kids just aren’t able to decide effectively (yet – they’re only 4 1/2 and 2 1/2). My son, the oldest, just can’t think far enough into the future to understand that not wanting to wash his hair today, after a hot, sweaty day, is why his scalp is itchy tomorrow. He also doesn’t quite get yet that putting lotion on the areas of his body that are prone to eczema keeps it from happening — although when it has broken out, he now understands that the lotion makes it better. At a certain point, you do have to step in until they’re old enough to actually understand the consequences.

  • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

    That makes no sense to me whatsoever. That argument would then mean that clipping nails would also count as “assaulting” their body, which is ridic.

    (And for those who have kids with curly hair, take it from a very thick curly haired girl: mix 1/4 conditioner with water in a spray bottle – or splurge and get the expensive conditioner spray) and with a comb’s stem (not its teeth) pry the curls apart quickly and scrunch it up. It’s not brushing per se but it tames it and helps it from tangling into dreds.)

    • Ptownsteveschick

      If you have any avon reps, they make an awesome kids detangling spray!

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      I did, and I used to have a professional hair brand as a client who gave me a great one. But from experience, you can get the same results by just taking some of your own conditioner and water. And it’s cheaper. ;)

    • Ptownsteveschick

      My grandma sells avon so she just gives me everything for free, can’t get any cheaper than that! I also think she is the worst salewoman ever haha.

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      yay for shitty sales people!!!!

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      And this is where RIE parenting’s philosophy that respectfully involving your child in the everyday hygiene routine is giving them the power of their body. Even at 8 months old I respect my daughter by giving her a heads up, waiting until she’s up from a nap and much more easy going, and I count out the fingers with her letting her know we’re almost done and thanking her when we are. Of course, it’s not always a walk in the park, but if she starts resisting a lot, I’ll respect that and wait it out until the next best time.) But that’s just me and it works for us.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I got this thingy on sale at amazon for like $10 called a tangle tamer, it’s like a brush that vibrates and it works AMAZING. Best $10 ever spent

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      Hmmm, if my sick wish that my fair skinned, blue eyed and fair haired daughter develops my thick curls (which may end up being just waves on a humid day…) I will try it out!

  • GPMeg

    It’s also a disservice to their hair!! If you don’t take care of your hair, it will stop growing and break. Perhaps she thinks if they go bald they won’t have to worry about it? Because her kids totally wouldn’t be more upset about being bald than they would about her making them brush their hair…

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Hair… doesn’t work that way.

    • GPMeg

      Actually, it does. If you don’t brush, wash, trim and care for it it will stop growing, become brittle and break, and eventually either fall out or have to be shorn off. I have seen it happen and my stylist (who has experience with white and ethnic hair) has seen it happen. Your hair, just like your nails and skin, has to be cared for even though it is technically almost entirely dead!

  • daly_beauty

    I think it’s possible to have a pleasant hair brushing experience with your kids. I always did. Comparing hair brushing to a violent assault says more about the mom than her actual parenting. File this under weird.

  • Amber Starr

    Unfortunately, kids need to do and learn certain things, whether they want to or not. This includes basic grooming and hygiene. To NOT insist upon it is negligent in my opinion. Don’t let your kid be the smelly one in class just because she didn’t want to take a bath or wear clean clothing. You can help her/him learn self respect and how to control their bodies with out allowing them to leave the house smelling like a foot.

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    I get the sentiment, but I think it’s a stretch to tie hair brushing with an over-eager boyfriend trying to take liberties. There are other ways to teach your daughter (or kids in general) to respect their bodies and that other people should too, without letting them go around crazy-haired.

    I’m not gonna sucker punch my kid into submission so I can get their hair did, obv. But it doesn’t have to be that hard!

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      *snort* sucker punch visual…

    • Emmali Lucia

      I think my mother did that once or twice…

      God my hair was almost always down to my belly button and SO CURLY, and I swear to God my mom couldn’t brush my hair to save my life, it always hurt. But I’m glad she did because if she didn’t I would have had dreadlocks, and while fashionable now, back then in my podunk little town it would have been weird.

  • whiteroses

    My one year old son has curly, gorgeous blonde hair that makes him look like a girl, tbh. He loves getting it washed but he hates getting his nails clipped, teeth brushed, or diaper changed.

    You know why he still does? Because his bodily autonomy is very important to me, but not nearly as important to me at this point as not getting him taken away by CPS.

  • Jayamama

    My 20-month-old daughter loves having her hair combed. But she hates to have it put up in any style. I’ve tried pigtails, side ponytail, etc, with a bow or ponytail holder. She won’t have anything to do with it. Part of me wants to just force her to stay still, even while screaming, just to get it done because it needs to look nice sometimes, but part of me can’t bring myself to hold her down when she’s so obviously not okay with it. How am I supposed to teach her boundaries when I don’t respect hers? If only my husband would let me cut it so it’s not hanging in her face. He really wants it to grow out. So in the meantime, I’m just brushing it out of her eyes every couple of minutes. I’d rather that than have her wailing and crying because I made her do something with her body that she didn’t want.

    • Blueathena623

      Why can’t you cut it? If you’re the one who always has to brush it aside, you should be the one who decides if it needs to be cut.

    • whiteroses

      This. Unless your husband is fighting that fight every morning, you should be the one to make that choice.

    • Justme

      What about a simple clip to the side while she’s growing out her bangs?

  • Spiderpigmom

    Tragically enough, my toddler does not have dominion over his own body. I force him to stay on the sidewalk in the street, I force him to have his teeth brushed, his nails clipped and his nose cleaned, I force him to have the doctor examine his ears and the dentist examine his teeth, I force him to take medicines when they are precribed and I force him to go to the daycare. And yes, I also force him to have his hair combed. Poor little victim.

    • stacey

      I am so evil I made my get vaccinated! Oh noes!

    • Amber Starr

      *GASP* The horror!

    • Spiderpigmom

      You mean you’re infringing on his right to die from tetannus or the measles on his own free will? Shame on you! His body, his choice! Soon you’ll tell me you keep him prisoner in a car seat when you’re driving him somewhere.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Lol4ever

    • Sara610

      You’re a terrible, abusive mother. I’m getting ready to call the cops on your ass.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I’ll bet you don’t even let him eat dog hairs or buttons. Meanie.

    • Momma425

      You FORCE HIM TO BLOW HIS NOSE???
      Worst. mom. ever.
      *sarcasm*

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Keeping him alive?! You’re denying him bodily autonomy! Not worth it. For shame.

    • Psych Student

      I’ll bet you wouldn’t let him hurl himself off the roof either. You clearly fail as a mom. If you were a good mom, you’d let him climb every tree and then fly like a bird out of them. *sarcasm* (I’m kidding of course, I’m sure you’re an awesome mom!!!)

  • Momma425

    “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.”

    Okay, say the child wants to stop bathing. This is really going to be okay, that they go weeks, months, possibly a year without bathing because “nobody has the right to do anything to their bodies that they don’t want them to” ???? Say the child doesn’t want to brush their teeth. Or has a cavity from not brushing said teeth and doesn’t want to get the cavity filled. Say the child doesn’t want to eat vegetables again. Ever. Or doesn’t want to wear their coat on the snow day. Say the child decides that they don’t want to have their hemoglibin checked at the doctor’s office (ouch!). Guess little Johnny knows best at the ripe old age of 4, right?

    I teach my child that nobody is allowed to hit, punch, bite, or kick her body. Nobody is allowed to touch her private areas except the doctor at her check ups.
    Sometimes I give her choices: either mommy will bursh your hair, or you can brush your own hair. Yes, you can floss first if you want, but mommy will double check when you are finished. You can take a shower, or you can take a bath, your choice. There is a huge difference between sexual assault and practicing proper hygene. PS- at the doctor’s office and at schools, improper hygene is one of the warning signs of parental neglect.
    Yes, I am a “silky” mom and yes, I love it. So…yeah.

  • Erica

    Don’t agree with the no hair combing thing. And if she does this with teeth brushing…If you don’t take care of your teeth when your are young that mistake will follow you into adulthood. You can’t take back a mouth full of cavities, which is exactly what happened to me. I brush my kids’ teeth twice a day and floss. My mom didn’t do it for me or stand by me and make me. I was a big liar about it cause I didn’t want to do it. And I have to live with bad teeth forever. Parents are supposed to teeth their kid how to take care of their bodies. Let them do whatever they want when they reach adulthood. Childhood isn’t the time.

  • Katherine Handcock

    Aside from the hygiene discussion, which is somewhat subjective when it comes to hair, I think it’s also a parent’s job to teach children that their appearance communicates something about them. Whether we like it or not, people do get messages from what kids wear and look like. I think it’s fair to say to a child, “When people see messy hair, they may wonder if you take care of your body properly. Or a friend might not want to lend you a book because he/she could be worried that you’re not careful with things. If you don’t like having your hair brushed, we should get it cut in a way that makes it easy to take care of for you.” Then let the child decide if he/she is now ready to let brushing happen, or if the hair gets cut — and what style it gets cut in.

  • Blh

    They don’t actually have dominion over thier own bodies. My son hates brushing his teeth. Should I let them just rot out of his head? All kids hate getting shots. Do you just them go without? All through life you’re going to do things you don’t want to and kids need to learn how to deal with it. I HATED having my hair brushed as a little kid but I still had to do it. I promise I’m fine.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    Part of teaching a child that their body is their own is instilling a sense of pride in that body and learning how to properly care for it. That means brushing teeth and hair, taking baths, seeing the doctor and dentist, clipping nails, eating good food and so on. A child would do nothing but eat candy and stay awake as long as possible and not go to school and watch too much TV if a parent does not intervene. Children are hedonists. They require guidance.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    I have seen similar sentiments in my twitter feed lately. I totally get bodily autonomy – we don’t force our kid to hug her friends, her grandparents, etc. I let her pick out her own clothes (as long as they are weather appropriate).
    But there are certain things that aren’t negotiable. She’s a child, not an adult. I will give her respect and trust and freedom – to an extent that is appropriate for her age and mentality. The other day, I went to put sunscreen on her before we went out, and she screamed, “NO THANK YOU NO THANK YOU”. It was really hard to force it on her when she was being so damned polite about it, but it was that or we stay inside. Given the choice, she chooses outside….and therefore has to put on sunscreen, whether she likes it or not.

    • Justme

      On the note of the “no thank you” point – I’ve started having to explain to my daughter that even though I appreciate her using her manners and saying “please,” her correct use of the word does NOT guarantee she will get what she wants.

  • Louise

    Is this a white people problem? Or should I say straight haired person problem? Seriously, if you have curly hair you will have a carpet if you don’t brush it. And your child who wants to look nice for their friends party will have to either shave their head or put up with a LOT of pain. Teach your children how to take CARE of themselves. Please. I am a grown up child of a neglectful parent. When you do not teach your children to take care of themselves you are teaching them one thing. THEY ARE NOT WORTH IT. Its a lesson no child should have to learn.

    • Muggle

      It’s not a white people problem, but I do think it is a straight-haired person one. I’m white with curly hair and I am quite resentful of the implication that all “European hair” is straight. I had to deal with bushy, dry, tangly hair until I was 19 because nobody, not even my curly-haired mother, taught me how to take care of curls properly. In high school I straightened it or put it up every day because leaving it “natural” made it look horrible.

      I don’t think it’s necessarily neglect, but it’s maddening when everyone is taught to care for their hair in a very specific (and, actually, rather unhealthy) way that doesn’t work out for… 60% of American women.

    • Louise

      I totally agree (and my white people comment was being facetious) . I was also one that grew up without adequate advice on how to care for my curly hair. I also had to put up with employers saying my hair was messy – even now I have had to correct my son calling my hair a ‘mess’. I’ve said its not ‘messy’ its curly, There is a difference. I take care of my hair in my own way – and I tend not to go to the salon because my hair is often misunderstood and I end up with a cut or style which is impossible for me to reproduce at home. I have straightened my hair, permed it, braided it and considered locking it. Now I’m actually considering wigs or extensions just so I can fit in. I’m just not confident enough to wear it as is.
      It terms of neglect it really depends – children should be taught to care for their hair and helped if necessary, imo.

    • Muggle

      You’re forgiven for the “white people problems” comment. I figured it was facetious, but the lack of adequate hair care advice for curly hair period frustrates me to no end and makes me turn into Humorless Muggle.

      The author’s idea of not brushing her kid’s hair for the sake of bodily autonomy is every bit as ill-advised as teaching all children to care for their hair in a way that’s “common knowledge” but doesn’t really work out even for straight, European hair (and treating curly hair like straight hair does result in brushing being like a “violent assault”, even if you’re brushing your own hair).

    • darras

      I don’t know.. I’m white with hair as naturally straight as it comes. As an adult I never really have to brush it because it never gets tangles. BUT as a child? I just had to LOOK at my hair and it’d be like I got dragged through several hedges backwards. Looking after curly hair always looked like crazy hassle but us ‘straighties’ get matted hair as kids too :)

      And I have always been MAD jealous of people with curly hair, it looks so beautiful!

  • http://sarahhollowell.com/ Sarah Hollowell

    Man, my mom brushed my hair for most of my childhood. It was just a small thing that was always super comforting.

    Also she was way better at braids than I was.

  • AugustW

    Yeah….I mean, sure it is their body, but as their parent, aren’t we “in charge” of their bodies, legally and physically, for quite a while? I’ll say physically, when they are old enough to do it themselves, they can take over that part…but are we saying toddlers shouldn’t take medicines, or brush their teeth, or have hair cuts?

  • Muggle

    I’m all for bodily autonomy, but… da fuq?

    Brushing your hair is committing violence? What. How the fuck does she brush her own hair that she considers it a violent assault? I think she just got carried away being over-dramatic, but… what. the. actual. fuck.

    Even in cultures and times where washing was difficult, people did their best to groom their hair, brushing it out and styling it, or putting it up in hats. Grooming your hair is basic hygiene. It’s nothing to do with looking a certain way. I’m all for teaching kids about bodily autonomy but this is going way too far.

  • darras

    I’d consider NOT brushing it the assault to be honest.. Kids get so many tangles! And tangles in hair really hurt like a motherf! I mean really??