Ask Dad: My Daughter Wants to Dye Her Hair!

Kids: Can't live with 'em, can't drop 'em off at the fire station unless they're still tiny. But the fire captain known as Ask Dad will help you out, no matter how big your kid -- or your emergency.

My 4-year-old girl wants to dye her hair blue. I won't let her. I feel like a hypocrite because I've been hopping from crazy shade to crazy shade my whole life. Should I just give in and let her go nuts?

Now I've seen some cuteness in my time; in fact, I consider myself something of a connoisseur. They let me hang out in the Champagne Room over at Cute Overload. And I find it hard to imagine something cuter than a blue-haired pre-schooler. Especially if they were somehow paired with a blue-haired grandmother, though I'm not sure they even make blue-haired great grandmothers anymore.

And yet, I feel your hypocrisy. I wouldn't have let my daughter do it either. I probably wouldn't let her now at 6, though I'd be excited if she asked.


I was never one for the extreme hair colors or cuts, though I did briefly have an accidental Danny Elfman orange that I liked when I tried to bleach my black hair. I have always been that brand of proudly scuzzy that can occasionally pass itself off as hip. I always assumed I'd pass that off to my children, if for no other reason than I would just suck at getting them dressed.

Who better than a pre-K kid with no responsibilities to wear mismatched socks, one boot and one shoe, to wear a bowler with shorts over jeggings, to wear non-prescription glasses for a touch of nerdy style? Some parents roll this way, and I envy them and their boys in boots-and-dresses. But my kid basically wants to look as primped and square as possible, and I find I do little to discourage it.

It's a phenomenon I've recognized in lots of urban moms and dads. In the same way that some agnostic parents like to raise their kids Catholic or Jewish, a lot of proudly crazy or scuzzy-looking parents like to raise their kids middle-of-the-road respectable. I can't quite figure it out.

I think social pressures are part of it. Parent with random dreadlocks in their hair = devil-may-care. Parent with kid with random dreadlock in their hair = devil-who-should-care-more.

Your kids' appearance is the world's main way of judging your parenting. As Louis CK says, the most important thing is to get his daughters dressed. If he sends them to school without feeding them he can just say, "Oh, they're just tired." But if they're naked, he's in trouble.

Hair-dyeing in particular just feels like body modification. It seems like hitting them with a bullring piercing or tattoo, even though it grows out, or can be chopped off for an adorable little buzzcut for either sex. Remember the first time you cut your kid's hair? It felt a bit like mutilation didn't it? No matter how cute the result.

You don't have to feel bad about the hair dye. Even though it's clearly not why you're forbidding it, it involves crazy chemicals that you probably don't want to be dousing a precious young head with. Some people think hair modification is abuse

Still, think you should give the blue a whirl with some of the temporary products, and just be grateful it's not pink she wants. Not the horrible party-store hairspray, but Manic Panic maybe? (I can't believe they still make that stuff. It screams 1990 to me. But I guess a lot of people scream 1990, too.) But check those ingredients, too. Find something safe and non-toxic. Do it once, during summer break. You might find you think it's adorable, and want to make it permanent. In which case your kid will immediately decide they don't like it. Problem solved.

How would you deal with your child wanting to have blue hair?


Image via Flickr/BeniRiviere

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