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

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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

independence, kid health


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japan... japanmommy

Wow, chill. It's hair. If the mom doesn't want to brush it big deal. Definitely not a comparison for poopy diapers since not brushing will not cause health/sanitary issues.

keelh... keelhaulrose

Hair brushing does not equate to sexual assault. And she's not doing her children any favors by teaching them to refuse anything they don't like. Other kids will bully hers because of this.

Hair brushing is mandatory in my house. Enough complaining and one mention that there's no need to brush a buzz cut is enough to get it done.

keelh... keelhaulrose

Japanmommy: it is a hygienic issue. A rat's nest that's allowed to get out of control will tug and irritate skin and sometimes open wounds you can't clean because you can't reach, not to mention you can't clean the middle of a giant knot. Go look up how to maintain dreadlocks, they list all the possible complications, though it'll be worse when it's the kids whole head. Watch Animal Cops on Animal Planet to see what happens when epic matting is allowed to occur.

CLM3345 CLM3345

I had a 22 year old co-worker who didn't brush her hair, or even own a hairbrush. She just ran her fingers through her hair after she showered. It never look messy or unkempt, except when it needed a trim. Unless their hair is one huge rat's nest, I don't think it's that big of a deal. My hair tangles like crazy if I wear a collared shirt, etc, so I couldn't skip a brushing. It brushes easy so I only run the brush through my hair about 7 times. Unless the kids are dirty and look terrible, it's not a big issue.

nonmember avatar starla

I am just loveing the phrase "Pain in the tuchas." ear to ear grin right now!!!hahaha

nonmember avatar April

Sure. I'll let my kids decide if they want their hair brushed or not. But they won't get to leave the house until it's done to my satisfaction. So, hey. don't brush your hair. You also don't get to go to the park. Works for me.

Elaine Cox

hair brushing is a sanitar the creepy guy down in the park can do things to her daughter if she allows it? sure a lot of high school teachers are waiting on this girl

nonmember avatar blh

All their life her children are going to have to do things they don't want to, they need to get used to it. This woman is an idiot, comparing brushing your hair to sexual abuse. My mom often let me go out without brushing my hair bc I couldn't stand it and would throw a fit and she didn't feel like dealing with it anymore sometimes.

Erika NW Goodall

While I don't agree with the mom's reasoning on "it's a child's right to say no" I do not feel like it is the parent's sole responsibility to care for a child's hair. When my daughter get's long enough hair, if she refuses to let it get brushed or won't brush it herself.. that's fine, but someone is getting a pixie cut, and it won't be mommy.

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