I think it's an issue that resonates with many of us as aunties, sisters and mummies - and girlfriends!
Perhaps you reach a point where you think this child's hair is "too thick, too 'hard', too tangly, too long, too brittle, too whatever" for me to manage anymore - I'm sure we've all seen that video of the Black mama brushing the little girl's hair while she screams in agony! Maybe we think we no longer have the time to sit and 'do' it or the economics of going to a braider etc have become off putting - especially when you can spend $10 BDS or £3.99 and buy a D-I-Y relaxer kit...
So what do you do? How young is too young to relax a child's hair? How young is too young to lock a girl's hair? Is there any difference (in permanence for e.g.) between a parent saying "time to relax that" as opposed to a parent saying "Let's lock it up!"?
Quite frequently, I've heard 'people' say "She's too young for locks" or "Shouldn't that be her own choice? (i.e. wait til she's old enough to choose for herself) when locking the child's hair is offered as an option. Many of those same people have no objections to the same child having their hair relaxed. So readers - what do YOU think?
In Lakeisha's post she quotes this piece from Eva's article:
The unthinkable happened to one mother one summer evening while her daughter was visiting at grandma’s. After a whole day to herself of summer revelry, she walks up her mother in law’s steps and stops upon hearing her daughter’s scream of delight from the direction of the backyard. Going around the side, the mother walks toward the back and slowly sees a little girl similar to her daughter shaking her pin straight hair running every which way. With a hostile glare at grandma, the mother volcanically demands with a voice unheard before today, “What did you do?” Her mother-in-law glides to the side of her granddaughter, saying matter-of-factly, “We got her hair relaxed, and it’s about time. She couldn’t wear her nappy hair forever. You don’t have to pay me now, but the salon receipt is on the kitchen counter.” Resembling Princess Jasmine from Aladdin, her daughter squeals, “Now Mommy my hair is like yours.” Needless to say, the next words out of the mother’s mouth were not rated for Disney.
Needless to say I am sure that'd be a parent's worse nightmare... ok one of their worst nightmares. What would you do if this happened to you?
Lakeisha goes on to say that something similar had indeed happened to her and her (then) seven year old daughter's hair was relaxed by her father and his mother without prior consultation or warning. Lakeisha is now growing locks and in an ideal world she would let her daughter's perm grow out and then lock it up. In her post she asks : "What Would You Do?" so readers, I have copied my response below but please feel free to share your comments as well as I'm sure she'd love to hear your support and advice.
I've kept thinking about this post because I can totally identify with your situation - I think I may have to post it on my own blog and invite my followers to respond because I keep coming up empty.
My daughter's hair is relaxed, she is 11 yrs old and had it done shortly after her birthday. I've received a lot of flack for it... looking back my preference was for her to grow locks (SLs or traditionals) but she was about to go on to Secondary School where children of her background would be part of the minority and we weren't sure how they'd react in the end we didn't wanna give 'other kids' any 'other' reason to potentially pick on her. We asked her whether she'd like to relax, lock or leave it and she chose the relaxer. (Of course I explained how much hair care she'd need in order not to suffer from burns, breakage etc). My hope is that when she reaches 16 (or uni age) she will cut it all off and grow locks - but I didn't want to pressure her into locking simply because I had done it.
I want her to have full information so she can make the right decision for herself when the time comes. (I think she was a bit 'scared' of locks as mine were falling off inexplicably at the time - of course we now know what that was...)
I'd love to tell you to let your daughter grow that perm out and get some locks! But I also know the unconscious assault your little one's mind is under having siblings of mixed heritage and 'looser curls' etc. I think it might be better to work on reaffirming her self esteem and confidence regarding her identity and her hair, continue to grow your own locks so she has a yardstick to measure 'locks' by and then when she's a bit older you can say - "wouldn't you rather have hair like mummy's?" and emphasise that she won't have to go to the hair salon etc anymore!
What do you think?
PS and yes I know there is always the option of leaving the hair natural i.e. don't lock and don't relax but I'm not giving you that option here. I'm basically speaking to those who have reached the point where they don't want to leave it natural (loose/free stranded) and want to choose between relaxers and locks.
PPS - I do not own the copyright on this image.