Parent Q and A: Curly hair, don’t care
Hope you have been doing well. My daughter said something interesting tonight during bath time with Dad. She said she wanted her hair to be straight, because all the other girls at school have straight hair. Her father told her that her curly hair was beautiful and that’s she’s special because of it. She said she didn’t want to be special and just wanted to be like the other girls. Do you have any book recommendations? I distinctly remember our conversation about your curly hair and our children’s – hence why I’m reaching out. Also, have you had this happen to you with your daughter? Just curious to know whether it’s come up and what you’ve said.
Mom of a Gorgeous Curly Girl
It’s so nice to hear from you! In terms of the hair situation, I think there are two angles here. One involves thinking with your daughter about what her hair means to her as a part of her biracial identity, as well as differences between her appearance and that of her friends, and the messages – both tacit and explicit – that she receives about those differences. Hair politics are deeply intertwined (pun intended) with racial and ethnic identity – it goes deeper than the personal. These politics will likely be part of ongoing discussions and thinking with your kiddo throughout her young life about how the way she looks to the world will be interpreted, and how she can understand and take pride in her diverse ethnic background.
The other is definitely fostering positivity about this part of your daughter’s body. Sesame Street has been introducing this exact subject in the form of a lovely Black muppet girl named Gabrielle who sings about loving her hair and also comes to terms with her hair being different from Prairie Dawn’s straight blonde hair. Here are links to some relevant videos:
Here are a few book recommendations – I haven’t read them all, but a scan of the summaries and reviews looked excellent.
- Fantastic recommendation list by a mom blogger of two biracial children
- Naturally Curly has some great recommended book lists, including this one!
- Happy to be Nappy by bell hooks (who knew she wrote a kids’ book?)
- I Love My Hair by Natasha Tarpley
- I Am Mixed by Garcelle Beauvais and Sebastian Jones
- Jamie Loves Her Natural Hair by Ariane Roberts
- My Curly, Coily Crown by Darcel Craft
- Love Your Hair by Dr. Phoenyx Austin, M.D.
It’s so good to hear from you! Please let me know if you’d like to come in for a visit to think more about these issues, or if there is any other way I can help! Be well and take care (hello to the whole family),
For additional reading:
- You can celebrate anything you want: Reconciling our “December Differences” for families of many cultures and faiths
- The Body Beautiful: How my preschooler taught me to love myself
- Parent Q&A: When kids prefer one parent, part 2: This time it’s personal
Rebekka Helford is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Los Angeles, California. With over a decade of experience working with parents and young children, Rebekka specializes in short-term intensive parenting consultation, using a variety of tools including home, office, and school visits to help families navigate developmental hiccups and get back on track.
Click here to schedule an appointment or contact Rebekka with a question – who knows, she might even answer it in her next post!