I have curly hair. At times it can be hard to control, but when it behaves, I do get lots of compliments on it, and have grown to really love it. As a child I hated the knots and tangles, and all the barrettes needed to keep it looking tidy. My sister, who has straight hair, has a 4-year-old daughter with curly hair. My sister is now acting as though her daughter has some sort of defect that must be hidden from the world. Every morning my sister subjects her little girl to blow dryers and flat irons. She even avoids taking her outside when it's rainy or misty out, lest her hair "frizz out." I feel like this will only get worse as she get older, and am afraid this will hurt my niece’s self-esteem. Should I say something to my sister, or am I just being biased because I too have curly hair?
How sad that your sister is maligning the natural beauty—and hampering the freedom—of her darling little girl. Soon enough, your niece will be a teenager obsessed with her looks, and she will devote way too much time to taming her locks. But the mother of a preschooler shouldn’t be spending more than a few minutes a day tending to her daughter’s hair. Putting it in a pony tale or clipping in a couple of barrettes is all it should take. Keeping her indoors so her hair doesn’t frizz is oppressive and undermining. I think you should say something. I hope you can keep it light and humorous and say as a representative of the curly-haired caucus you want to speak on behalf of your sisters (if not your biological sister) and say you would like to see her celebrating her daughter’s gift, instead of frying it into submission. Tell her you spent too many hours as a girl feeling bad about your hair, but now that you’ve learned to love it, you enjoy the freedom of letting your curls fly and the compliments they bring. If your sister won’t put down the styling equipment, then make sure you have your niece over for sleepovers. Then you two can give each other shampoos and she can learn to celebrate the corkscrews that emerge.
I have been blessed with the fact that my 16-year-old son and my husband, his stepfather, have a wonderful relationship. This year we are having a Halloween party at our house and they have decided to dress up as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad. My husband has an orange painting suit, complete with mask, which my son would wear. I am a huge fan of the show, but the mother in me thinks this is not a good idea. They would not be going out in public, but pictures will inevitably end up on social media. My son is a good kid, into sports, and does not do drugs. I have told my husband that having my son dress up as a meth dealer would probably be considered bad parenting, but he says it is all in good fun and that people dress up as worse things for Halloween. What do you think?
Slate went into mourning when Breaking Bad ended, but even though week after week Slate writers exalted the show, no one took that to mean they thought meth dealing was preferable to blogging (even if potentially more lucrative). Every Halloween I have children coming to my door dressed as Freddy Krueger, and although some readers say I have a penchant for recommending people call Child Protective Services, this costume has never made me think these little killers have criminally bad mothers. After all, Halloween is largely about inhabiting your own nightmares. During the George W. Bush years, many parents got their children W masks, and they weren’t doing it to celebrate the president, but because they thought it was the most horrible image they could imagine. The fun of Halloween is in letting loose, and it’s beautiful that your husband and your son have such great chemistry that they want to bond over their mutual love of show about a chemistry teacher.
More Dear Prudence Columns
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More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“Occupy the Dollhouse: In a live chat, Prudie advises a mother whose niece flaunts her expensive toys in front of her cousins.”
“Toilet Paper: In a live chat, Prudie advises a man whose co-worker always takes the office newspaper to the bathroom.”
“Me or the Dog: In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend wants her to give away her cocker spaniel.”
“Snip and Tell: In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman who’s been trying to get pregnant—only to find out her husband had a secret vasectomy.”
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