Mom Doesn't Brush Kids' Hair Because It's Their 'Right' to Say No

hair brushOh. My. Word. Have you heard about the mom who refuses to brush her kids' hair unless the kids want it brushed? Jane Marsh calls it the AP (attachment parenting) hairstyle.

And her reasoning, well, it's some of the most ridiculous clap trap I've read on the Internet in awhile (and that's saying a lot). Marsh doesn't brush her kids' hair when they don't want it brushed because ... it's their hair, not hers.


Or rather, it's their body, so the way Marsh sees it, she can't tell the kids what to do with it. As she says on her blog, Nothing By the Book:

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.

Oh man, oh man, oh man. Where to begin with this one?

I'm all about teaching my daughter her body is her own. We have been talking to her since she was a little itty bitty thing about the ability to just say no when someone touches her in a place she doesn't want to be touched. 

But not brushing her hair because she doesn't want it brushed?

That's not teaching kids to respect their bodies. That's letting your kids manipulate the ever-loving crap out of you.

Come on! Kids don't like everything we attempt to do to them, but that doesn't mean you give in.

Did she let her kids sit in their own poopy diapers when they were babies because they wailed when she tried to change them?

Frankly, I understand the temptation of giving up. Brushing the hair of a kid who doesn't really want it to be brushed is a pain in the tuchas. In fact, on the list of things that suck about being a parent, brushing my kid's hair belongs near the tippy top. It's a fight we've been battling for years now. She won't stand still. She screams that I'm pulling too hard (often when I haven't even touched her).

Even with the discovery of what we call the magic brush in our house, it once took 17 minutes to work the knots out of her hair. Trust me. I timed it. She kvetched for approximately 16 minutes and 59 seconds of that.

But still, I brush my daughter's hair, and it's not because I don't think she has the right to say "no" to sexual advances.

It's because I'm her parent, I'm not sexually abusing her by brushing her hair, and some things are non-negotiable.

She needs to learn how to take care of her body, and it's my job to teach her. That means teaching her about hygiene -- including the need to keep one's tresses in line. It means teaching her to wash her whole body and shampoo and condition too (because the more you condition, the fewer knots I have to work out). It means sometimes forcing her to sit her bony butt on the side of the tub and brush her teeth because, "Kid, those things are going to rot right out of your head if you don't do it right now!"

Is that infringing on her rights to her own body?

Not at all.

She's a kid. She's still learning what needs to be done to maintain a healthy body.

Teeth brushing, bathing, wearing sunscreen, and even hair brushing are part of maintaining a healthy body.

Until she figures that out and can do them all on a regular basis without me intervening, it's my duty to do it for her. Even if she won't hold still.

Do you brush your kids' hair or do you feel like this mom?


Image via Aramek/Flickr

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