Tag Archives: curly hair

Mommy I Want My Hair Straightened

What are the six words you don’t say to your mother when she’s the author of a children’s book about loving your natural hair? “Mommy, I want my hair straightened.”

Has she even met me? I was clearly having a Twilight Zone moment. I could’ve passed out! I mean, after all our conversations about loving our hair, and all the workshops I’ve held teaching parents and children to celebrate the beauty of our natural beauty, my child had the nerve to say those words to me TWO DAYS AGO!

I’ll be honest, when I first heard those words come out her mouth, I panicked. I started to frantically question myself. “Where did I go wrong? Am I a fraud?” I thought, “I wrote this book and my own child is having identity issues… Oh, God, maybe I shouldn’t have put her in this new school. She never had these issues at her neighborhood school. Did I make a mistake?” My mind was going 60 miles per hour, with question after question. And, of course, while I’m having this full discussion in my head, she—in true 5 year old fashion—was repeating in her most endearing whine, “I want my hair straightened. I want my hair straightened. I want my hair straightened….” I needed some answers before I could respond…

Seek understanding before seeking to be understood.

I stepped out of my haze, temporarily, and asked her, “Why do you want straight hair?” (There was definitely a slight hint of irritation in my voice.) She, not the least bothered by my tone, sang the praises of the tresses she longed for…. “straight hair is sooo soft and it’s sooo beautiful…” I could’ve thrown up. I’m just being honest. It’s not that I don’t believe straight hair is soft, but curly hair is soft, too. I am not one to go on a “Black is beautiful” rant, to the exclusion of other “races.” I think we’re all beautiful. With that said, I strongly believe that it is essential that my child knows her hair and all other features are just as beautiful as anyone else’s—that her classmates’ hair textures are merely different, but not better (or worse) than hers.

Think before you speak.

So many things were running through my mind, and I had heard enough. I blurted out, “Your hair is beautiful and I’m not straightening it!” Oops. Wrong move. Immediately, hysterical screaming pierced the silence her tears began to flow. My little girl was having a meltdown at 7 o’clock in the morning, blubbering and begging me to take her to Target to buy a flat iron before school. Can you imagine? Did I mention SHE IS 5 YEARS OLD?

Shift from fear to curiosity.

I took a real long, deep breath, and thought to myself, “What have I told the parents at my workshops when they ask about this?” This topic comes up all the time, but in the moment, with my own child all of it went out the window… initially. I thought about it a little harder, then remembered. I told them to celebrate the benefits of their child’s hair texture, to teach them about their own hair and the great qualities it has. And that’s what I did. 

Reconnect.

I snapped out of my moment and reminded myself that right then was really about her, and what she felt was a real need. Straightening her hair is not debatable at this age. I knew for sure that was not going to happen, and I needed to help her understand why. As she continued to chant through blubbering tears, “I want my hair straightened,” I dramatically grabbed my chest like Fred Sanford, slumped over, and pretended to pass out. lol I needed to break the tension and shift her energy. She laughed, even though she didn’t want to. This gave me my “in” to tell her how I really felt… 

Tell the truth. 

I said, “Your hair is beautiful.” She responded, “No, it’s not!” I said, “Your curls are so pretty.” She replied through tears, “I hate my curly hair. I want it straight!” It wasn’t working, but I kept going. I told her that her hair texture allows her the flexibility to do so many different styles. I explained to her that “natural hair” does things that straight hair doesn’t. (I told her this as a fact, without making it seem as if curly hair is better than straight.) She began to calm down. I shared stories with her of former co-workers who asked me to two- strand twist their hair, and how I told them that their hair wouldn’t be able to hold the style. She began to ask questions about other experiences like that…. I talked to her until she began to feel blessed to have her hair texture and was no longer envious of anyone else’s….

I did such a good job that she now wants me to do this style!  

 

Photo Source: hairstylepictures2015.com

Lord, help me. lol

 

Although it caught me off guard initially, it is not uncommon for our children (or for ourselves) to desire to look like someone they admire, or to want to “fit in” by looking more like their peers. I believe it is our job to help our kids see value in being themselves—to teach them that “we are ALL beautiful as is.”

Marlene Dillon,

Author of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!

5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Child’s Confidence

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It’s fair to say that every healthy parent wants their child to be confident. Self-confidence is not taught in school (if anything, it’s eroded there). So it’s our job as parents to build our children up so they can face the cruel world out there. 

Here’s a list of 5 simple things you can do to boost your child’s self-confidence.

1) Look them in the eye. 

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Far too often, when we’re really upset with our children, we tell them “Look me in the eye,” and begin to tear into them about how disappointed we are in their behavior. This creates a lasting visual in our child’s memory.  So every once in a while, switch it up. If you catch your child doing something good, use the same technique. Call her into the room, using all three names. When she gets close (probably wondering what she did wrong), get down on her level, tell her to look you in the eye, smile, and say something like, “I am so proud of you. I saw what you just did. You made a good choice and I just wanted to let you know I appreciate that and I love you very much.” 

2) Tell them who they are. 

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Affirm the natural talents you see in your child. It does something special for your child to hear positive statements about their abilities directly from you. No one’s opinion—no coach, teacher, friend, classmate, or neighbor—matters more than yours. If you notice that your daughter is excellent at throwing a football, tell her. If you walk in as your son is nailing an arabesque, say, “Wow, you’re an amazing dancer.”  And calling him by the title “dancer” allows him to picture being in that actual role. Now, rather than just thinking, “I like to dance,” he can see farther down the road, and think, “Hey, I could be a dancer.”

3) Be honest. 

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We all know the phrase “kids can be cruel.” Children don’t really have an edit button. They are blunt, they point out the obvious, and sometimes they can be pretty mean about it. To be clear, this point is not about being honest with your child. Be honest with yourself. Take the rose colored glasses off and look at your child. If little Jimmy has one gigantic nostril and one he can barely breathe through, you might want to start reinforcing his self-confidence in this area. I’m not saying that you should point it out to him, but maybe you should go out of your way to point out cool unique traits on other people. “Wow, Eddie Murphy has a really nice smile. He has a gap. That’s pretty cool and unique.” It may feel weird, but you’re building a foundation of comebacks for your child. So when Billy’s classmate says, “Your eyebrows are crooked,” his response will be, “Yeah, but I like them. Their unique,” instead of immediately bursting into tears and running home. 

4) Seek to Understand Before Seeking Understanding. 

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Our kids intentions are often far different from the outcome of their actions. Many times their attempts at independence, kindness, and scientific discovery, just look to us like a huge attempt to destroy our work or our clean home. Few things can crush a child’s self-confidence faster than getting yelled at for doing something they thought was a good thing. So as tempting as it is to immediately fly off the handle when you see red and yellow flowers drawn all over your work presentation, it will serve you well to train yourself to breathe before you react. Even if it’s through clenched teeth, ask, “What were you trying to do?” Trust me, when she replies, “you had a sad face when you were working so I thought the flowers would make you happy,” you will thank yourself for taking the time to understand her intentions.   

5) Avoid limiting keywords.

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A great way to boost your child’s self-esteem is to eliminate the words “just” and “too” when describing them or others. These words undermine truths about a child’s value and identity, and quickly turn a compliment into criticism. Hear the difference between, “Maurice is smart,” and “Beatrice is too smart.” By simply adding “too” it implies that maybe being smart isn’t such a good thing. Imagine what happens internally when you say to your son, “You’re too little to pour your own juice; you’re just 3.” In my house the rule is “you’re not too anything, and you’re not just anything.” This rule is applied outside our home, as well. I always immediately correct adults who say my daughter is “too tall.” I smile at her and say, “Yes, she is beautifully tall.”

There are many more ways that I will add in the future, but these should give you a good start. Test them out and let me know how it goes. If you have any to add, feel free to respond in the comments. 🙂

The Necessity of Returning Natural

Time to practice what we preach.
How do you teach your child to be proud of their natural hair and your hair is blown straight? How can you expect your child to rock a twist out, or afro, at 9 years old—an age where her ability to “fit in” may define her self-worth for the rest of her life—and she is being sent a mixed message at home? You tell your baby girl every day, “Don’t worry about what they say. You have to love your natural hair,” but you are wearing a 3 foot silky straight weave as your “protective style.”
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Our children learn more from what we do than from what we say. They are little lawyers constantly looking for evidence to support what we claim is the truth. Don’t believe me? Try reprimanding your child with a smile on your face and see how effective it is. They watch us to see if we truly mean the words we speak. I cannot fully tell my child to believe in herself when it is evident that I do not believe in myself. I cannot tell her to love her hair and it is obvious to her that I am ashamed of mine, or see it as my casual style, but not appropriate for “dressy” occasions.

Have you seen the news story by WPTV News that speaks about the reasons many Black women are “going natural?” I truly commend Rochelle Ritchie for publicly addressing this topic and the huge commitment she made. This video really stirred me because it speaks of a mother with straightened hair who was raising her beautiful daughter with natural hair. She spoke of how her daughter was being teased at school every day and wanted to have hair like her mom’s. At some point, this loving mom was touched by her child’s pain and made a decision that I wish more moms would consider. She decided do the “big chop” in support of her child and began to wear her hair naturally!

We have to teach our kids by example, and they need to know that they are beautiful as is. We can speak it all we want but we are not showing it if our go-to style is always silky straight. They know better; they know when we don’t believe what we say. I want more for my daughter than that. And I want more for your children, as well. That’s why wrote I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!

Let’s lead by example: drop the weaves and lace fronts. Those styles are destroying more than just our hairlines; they are killing our children’s self-esteem. Let’s commit to loving ourselves openly before our children. If we don’t teach them, who will?

Marlene Dillon, author of I'm Proud to Be Natural Me! Available on Amazon.

Marlene Dillon is the author of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! a beautiful picture book that teaches children to embrace their natural beauty. It is her passion to empower children and their parents with the message that “we are ALL beautiful as is.”  I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is available on Amazon, click this link to visit the site. For bookings and to order books for your store, please email improudtobenaturalme@yahoo.com.