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Relaxing a Child’s Hair Out of Convenience: Is it Ever Okay?

Avatar • Sep 12, 2011

Mticqah says;

I have been natural longer than I can remember. Locs for close to 13 years now, just natural and free. I have a 9 year old daughter. Her hair is thicker and kinkier than mines. I used to just keep it braided, but the ordeal of taking it down, washing and re-braiding became too much for the both of us. Also she’s extremely tender headed. When the time would come for her to get it done she would get sad and depressed. My mom felt like there was no logical reason for her to go through such pain associated with her hair and pressured me to let her relax it. Which I did. And now everyone is happy. My daughter no longer dreads getting her hair done, and my mom is glad I’m not torturing her grand baby. But me, I have serious guilt feelings for not standing firm on my desire for my daughter to be natural. I’m wondering; did I do the right thing?

What are your thoughts ladies? Is a relaxer ever an appropriate fix when a child’s hair is difficult to manage? Moms in particular, would love to hear your thoughts!

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Aisha
Aisha
9 years ago

That sucks that you had to go thru that, but I would not let guilt creep in, you thought you were doing what’s best. I’m a mom, but he’s only 15 months and a buy lol however, I have some experience having baby girl cousins with lots of thick hair. The few times I did it they acted a fool but they grew up with the oldest one doing their hair and they have waxed and waned from straight to curly. I think they kept it in braids and semi straight for the most part. Anyway, I would’ve suggested taking… Read more »

merry
merry
9 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

sorry but i would beat myself up. the girl is very young and probably won’t take that stuff out of her hair until/unless it breaks off her hair, messes with her scalp, or she gets old enough to make her own decisions.

moreover, let’s remember it’s a full on chemical that is being used on a child’s head.

i tend to ignore my ignorant family members. they don’t really get a say in stuff.

Aisha
Aisha
9 years ago
Reply to  merry

She is obsessing over something that’s already done. I encourage Mticqah to figure out whether she is going to return the girl to a natural state or leave her as is. Either way make a decision Mticqah and stick with it because “beating yourself up” is counter-productive. Obviously, we’d hope Mticqah would give natural another chance but making decisions for your child isn’t the same as making them for yourself and I don’t know any un-opinionated 9 yr olds! Plus, now she would have to deal with a transition! Transitioning hair is very sensitive to breakage either way she is… Read more »

EG
EG
9 years ago
Reply to  merry

I’m with you. She should beat herself up, she made the wrong decision and is now looking for someone to say it’s OK. I would imagine that this ‘natural’ doesn’t know how to take care of her own hair, and that is why she did not know how to properly take care of her daughter’s. We always assume that natural means knowledge/experience, it does not. Sometimes natural means i’m struggling with the love/hate relationship with my hair (i went through it), sometimes it means i’m experiencing a serious learning curve (hence the love/hate), and sometimes it means i’m natural and… Read more »

Lin
Lin
9 years ago
Reply to  EG

I’m sorry (actually, no, I’m not), but this is extremely rude. Her daughter is tender-headed, and I can tell you, since my brother is as well, the braiding, taking down and washing, then rebraiding is hell. He’s crying the entire time and telling our mom to just cut off his (a little past shoulder length) hair, since he hates the pain of having it rebraided. Since the girl is happy now, what’s the problem? If she wants to go natural, she can do it in the future, when it’s her choice. For right now, though, let her be happy with… Read more »

EG
EG
9 years ago
Reply to  Lin

It’s not rude, it’s the truth. Do you think that her daughter or your brother are the only ones who are tender headed? The web is full of many examples of how to take care of tender heads. The point is that she made the wrong decision, knows it, and is now looking for validation. You want to give it to her than that’s fine, I’m not.

Eva
Eva
9 years ago
Reply to  EG

I think you’re ignoring the fact that the child was suffering just to validate your own beliefs of how people should treat their hair. From my understanding, this doesn’t seem like a situation of the mother/author hating her child’s hair and wanting it to be easier; she didn’t want her child to suffer. God forbid a mother wants her daughter to not have a painful experience. Like Lin said, if she wants to be natural later on in life when she may be able to handle her scalp herself, then that’s fantastic. But for right now, I think we should… Read more »

Annie L.
Annie L.
9 years ago
Reply to  Eva

I think the words ‘suffering’ and ‘depressed’ are a bit extreme for a haircare experience. If any of the women on this site described their salon experiences as naturals with the words ‘suffering’ and ‘depressed’, every one would tell them to run to another stylist.

Maybe the author detangled and braided in a way that was not suitable for this child. There’s always room to grow. Also, I wasn’t ‘tender-headed’ until I was relaxed though I’m sure there are others who really are. It just seems this phrase runs RAMPANT among Blacks and is unheard of among other groups.

sib
sib
9 years ago
Reply to  Lin

I agree with you. I think people are being rude and militant. If the little girl is happy with her relaxed hair, let it be.

Dominique
Dominique
9 years ago
Reply to  Lin

So… instead of cutting your brother’s hair, your mother makes him endure the pain of braiding?? I don’t get it. You seem to be on board with the idea of relaxers for tender-headed children, so does this same rule apply to your brother? It would be “the right thing” to relax his hair instead of getting a haircut? Aside from your brother, I find it disturbing that Mticqah went against her own “desire” to keep her daughter’s hair in its natural state. I think I could better understand her reasoning if she just totally hated the texture and used the… Read more »

Neesha Cherie
Neesha Cherie
9 years ago
Reply to  EG

I agree with you 100%. She did not make the right decision. But at the same time, it makes no sense crying over spilled milk. She should have considered checking out this site and other hair blogs before she got her daughter’s hair relaxed. I was tender headed as a child when I had very kinky virgin hair. But now that I’ve gone back natural, I’ve learned more effective ways to take care of my hair (such as detangling ONLY when my hair is wet and loaded with conditioner) and there are no more tears.

noturalbutee
noturalbutee
9 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

I just recently went natural and hate the fact that my mom used to press and eventually relaxed my hair. I am tender headed and I have a very sensitive scalp. My hair is super thick with a combination of curls and waves. The relaxers aggravated my scalp over the years and I have thinned and gotten bad bald spots because of it. I am 33 years old now and was basically told by my derm to leave the relaxers alone, because my scalp could not take it. I am no longer suffering from alopecia. My bald spots grew back… Read more »

Ms. M
Ms. M
9 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

I never would have thought this, but I agree with Aisha. My daughter is 17 and I went through the exact same thing: ultra thick haired daughter who tripped out with every hair washing/stying. And it was always an all day ordeal with her hair never coming out how she would like because she wanted to be able to wear it out once in a while or at least have it in loose twists. But her hair would shrink up in *dry* weather no matter what was done to it. She got a relaxer at 11, then a few years later… Read more »

merry
merry
9 years ago

“torturing her grand baby?” “everyone is happy?” this strikes me as so strange. can’t really put my finger on it. what does what everyone else wants have to do with what you as a mother believe is right for your child? i wonder whether the author has really looked hard at her feelings about natural hair. the thing about having locs and wearing a twa is that you don’t really have to deal with your hair and its texture on some level. i once had both styles. for me, i didn’t truly confront or “deal” with my hair until i actually let it… Read more »

S.L
S.L
9 years ago
Reply to  merry

I so agree with this. I bc’d and kept a twa for years, and absolutely loved it. No hassles, no problems, washing and styling was a breeze. I thought I truly loved having natural hair until, I actually started growing it and out went my carefree attitude. It was only on handling my growing hair that I started to realise how much resentment I had towards it. And the longer it got the harder I found it to deal with. I think everyone goes through their own journey with natural hair, but in my experience, the more free hair (i.e not… Read more »

df
df
9 years ago
Reply to  merry

wow, i know this is off topic, but what you said about the tender-headed thing really opened my eyes. all of my life i have been told that i am tender headed, even when i had a relaxer!!! when i would allow my hair to been styled by someone else, i always warned them: “i’m tender headed”. but i have never experienced any pain when doing my own hair, ever, even after one year natural..hmm…your statement just made me think about it, i allowed people to convince me of something that i knew from first hand experience was not true…dang

boho.barbie
boho.barbie
9 years ago
Reply to  df

+1

Monzi
Monzi
9 years ago

I agree with the above poster that having a twa and locs are different from growing the hair out the way you tried to do for your daughter, but I wonder why you didn’t just let the girl get locs? she wouldn’t be putting harsh chemicals on her hair, that can burn and be just as painful if not more so than braids, she’d look just like mommy, and if she ever chose to she could clip them and comb them out… I do think you should consider growing out the relaxer and locing your daughter’s hair if being a… Read more »

CarmelStacks
CarmelStacks
9 years ago
Reply to  Monzi

I agree with this…little girls with locs are super cute! If mom truly wanted to keep baby girl natural yet low manipulation, locs are the answer. I’m hoping my nephew’s mom locs his hair soon…I braided his hair not to long ago and it was majorly difficult to handle (kept tangling back up) and he’s so tenderheaded I couldn’t even part his hair with the end of rattail comb without him squirming. It was heartbreaking doing his hair and I was as gentle as possible. I think he was in major need of a deep condition though and his mom… Read more »

Joe
Joe
9 years ago
Reply to  CarmelStacks

I agree, locs would be a safe chemical ‑free alternative. Many people say that you shouldn’t loc a child’s hair unless they are old enough to make the decision for themselves, but I think locing is way better (and safer) than chemicals. My daughter has super thick hair, and would cry and scream whenever I would comb her hair. I finally decided that I didn’t want to have her associate pain and aggravation with her beautiful natural hair, so I decided to loc. Children should love what naturally grows out of their scalp and it is our job as parents… Read more »

BeautyIAM
BeautyIAM
9 years ago

I am not going to judge you for relaxing your daughters hair. I don’t have a child of my own so I have no experience about taking care of a child’s hair. Did you ever try going on blogs and youtube videos that featured parents taking care of their child’s natural hair? I personally do feel like there could have been other ways of managing your daughters hair without relaxing it. Also, I will forever remember the white father who was learning to take care of his adopted black daughters hair. I’m pretty sure your daughter and that mans adopted… Read more »

Lee in London
Lee in London
9 years ago

Don’t beat yourself up, you did what you thought was best for you and your child. Nurture her relaxed hair so that it will remain healthy until you or her is ready to revert back to natural. My mom relaxed my hair when I was about 10 and my hair grew and I kept it healthy, so it’s not an impossible feat. Good luck

JP23
JP23
9 years ago

Oh wow.….ok. I am a mother and my little girl is biracial (I’m black hubby is white) but her hair is fine with tons of curls. The back is kind of kinky but not enough for me, lol! Anyway while it is easy for me to say “ignore your family” sometimes you have to. It must feel terrible right now but you already made the decision for her. Right or wrong doesn’t matter now, what are you going to do about her hair? I think looking up a natural salon is a great idea and perhaps having a serious talk… Read more »

Fabre
Fabre
9 years ago
Reply to  JP23

Not sure why you mentioned your child and husband’s race since this post is about a child with super thick hair who is apparently tenderheaded and your little girl isn’t.

JP23
JP23
9 years ago
Reply to  Fabre

Oh she is. She cries most of the time when I comb her hair if I’m not too careful. It tangles really bad but I learned from this site to do a pre poo on hers as well. Thanks for making me mention that! I can see how my original post offended or confused you. Have a good day.

Jc
Jc
9 years ago

This post needs a video. I would love to know exactly how you were combing your daughter’s hair. Nine years is quite young too — in my opinion because there is maintenance work that goes into a relaxer that I do not think a 9 year old can properly grasp. I truly believe that ALL hair is manageable, you just have to find the right tools and be patient. I have no issues at all with people choosing to relax their hair because they want a different style but I do have issues when people say they do it because… Read more »

Audrey
Audrey
9 years ago
Reply to  Jc

This! It seems that changing how handled the girl’s hair would be helpful. I wish there was more info about how she did her hair. I am also curious about why locs weren’t seen as an option. As for the relaxer… I had my first when I was 10. My mother thought my hair and my sister’s hair was too thick and be dealing with on a daily basis. I can tell you right now that she was a perfectionist that wanted our hair to stay neatly braided, etc. and when it didn’t she’d redo the style and feel stressed… Read more »

Audrey
Audrey
9 years ago
Reply to  Audrey

I forgot to add that I’m a mom, but I have two boys. I grew up in a huge extended family that did hair, so I saw and helped with the hair care of my younger cousins. If I ever have a daughter I would aim to keep her hair natural. I’m pretty busy with two little boys, so I can only imagine how much more time would have to go into caring for my natural hair and that of my potential daughter, but even without knowing for sure, I think I would consider it worth it to help my… Read more »

LBell
LBell
9 years ago
Reply to  Jc

+1…Yes, what’s done is done, but I hope she understands that her daughter’s hair — its texture and thickness — was never the problem. The problem was that she didn’t have enough information plus she couldn’t say no to her mother. Hopefully she does, and can, now.

Re tender-headedness: One of the many benefits of going natural and learning how to work with my hair was that I stopped being tender-headed. I now think that, with very few exceptions, tender-headedness is code for not having the right people/tools in your hair…

Audrey
Audrey
9 years ago
Reply to  LBell

+1

Neesha Cherie
Neesha Cherie
9 years ago
Reply to  Jc

Great videos!! I especially liked the first one.

yoyo
yoyo
9 years ago

I find this post really bizarre putting harsh noxious chemicals on a child to make your life easier is unnecessary. I would feel guilty — relaxers are never mild as they contain a caustic chemical which like and acid burns. I have really thick coarse hair which was and is totally resistant to relaxer ‑they have been left on for hours and my hair would be straight for a week if that. My daughter is mixed race and you have never seen so much hair on one small child! When she was about 9 or 10 I finally got fed… Read more »

Lisa
Lisa
9 years ago
Reply to  yoyo

+1

Shelli
9 years ago

I don’t have any children, so my response may be discounted. However, I just feel it is never right to relax the hair of a child prior to puberty. It’s my belief that putting those chemicals on a pre-pubescent child whose hair probably has not set into its “permanent” state can be very detrimental in the long run to hair health. It may not always be the case, but my mom didn’t allow my sisters and I to get a relaxer until we were 13 years old and only twice a year then. I am so thankful for that as… Read more »

deena
deena
9 years ago

I maintain that perming a little girls hair is the worst thing you can do to your childs hair. And maintaining a perm can be just as taxing as natural hair (maybe more). This woman is really just blaming her mom and daughter for your own feelings. Its a shame when a natural woman throws a perm in her little girls hair. I expect this from uninformed women who despise their natural textures (yes they do exist) but women who are already natural should know better. How did you handle her hair? Maybe her hair needed different products than your… Read more »

mangomadness
mangomadness
9 years ago

I am not a mother yet but I’m looking forward to being one in the future. I am especially looking forward to taking the time to care for and style my future daughter’s hair. Just thinking about it makes me excited and happy. With that said, I would never put a relaxer in my child’s hair (or let anyone else do so). If I deem relaxers unfit for personal use, why would I use it them on my child?

JJ
JJ
9 years ago
Reply to  mangomadness

I too cannot wait to teach my daughter (if I have one) how to care for her hair. I wouldn’t take the “easy” route of relaxer just to “make everyone happy” and to “stop torturing” my child. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but the way it’s been put is really unfortunate and I don’t deem those as good enough reasons to put relaxer on her hair. I remember being very fussy as a child when getting my hair done, I wasn’t that tender headed but I didn’t understand why my hair had to be dealt with so forcefully (I… Read more »

CarmelStacks
CarmelStacks
9 years ago
Reply to  mangomadness

I have a 5 year old daughter and I usually cornrow it up into a puff. Last night she had to do a homework assignment where she had to draw a picture of herself and she drew her puff. It was so cute!

Jade
9 years ago

I remember not being excited about getting my hair done as a child. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my hair, it was my mother’s attitude about my hair. She complained that it was thick and long and took forever to dry. She also complained that I broke her comb (she was ripping it through my strands). She made it seem like doing my hair was an inconvenience to her. I was told I was tender-headed as a child, but really my mother did not use proper combing techniques and she had no patience for doing my hair. That’s why I… Read more »

Keisha
Keisha
9 years ago

My daughter is 4 and I have a hard time even using a blowdryer on her hair, let alone any other heat source. And God forbid I try a relaxer at this age! But that’s just me. Mticqah, I don’t know that I’d beat myself up, but I would examine the full situation. It seems that grandmother has a great influence on you and the care of your daughter. If that is the case, maybe sit down and discuss what YOU want for your child. As for your daughter, have you both discussed the beauty of natural hair? And how beautiful… Read more »

Erica B.
9 years ago

You did the right thing. I had the same exact scenario with my youngest daughter. I relaxed her hair when she was young. Now she’s a freshman in high school and STILL HAS A BEAUTIFUL HEAD OF HAIR. A relaxer doesn’t automatically mean scalp damage or breaking hair.

GirlPuh-leeze!
GirlPuh-leeze!
9 years ago
Reply to  Erica B.

OK? Damn, a relaxer didn’t kill me and if I choose to put one in my little girls nappy head, then we’ll do so. Now that we have all of these wonderful hair care resources at our fingertips I don’t believe a relaxer should be deemed a black girls “worst enemy”. My little girl wants long straight hair like the girls that she see on TV, but she also wants locs like her ma. Whatever she wants to do is cool cause I feel we have enough knowledge about her hair to know what works and what doesn’t in order… Read more »

NoMoreIgnorance
NoMoreIgnorance
9 years ago
Reply to  GirlPuh-leeze!

Anyone who use the word “nappy” in the negative way that you have should perm their child’s hair because they have no respect for it’s natural state and G‑d forbid a child has to grow up with a mother that doesn’t like her hair.

Hayymo
Hayymo
9 years ago

Do your best to keep your daughters hair healthy and strong in whatever state you choose. Please don’t allow anyone else to make you feel guilty about YOUR choice.… including some on this page. No matter what others personal feelings are this appears to have afforded you and your child a less intense hair experience. My girls are natural and will probably remain that way until they are able to decide for themselves. However, I know that other mothers can and will decide what is best for them. As I stated above. The goal should be healthy hair but that… Read more »

Rosie
9 years ago

my only question is you didn’t really know how to manage her natural hair because although you are natural you have locs and its much less to deal with however, will you be able to manage her relaxed hair because you know nothing about that either??

Stacey
Stacey
9 years ago

I am not a mother. I have four nieces though. The eldest two have really think hair and the younger two have fine brown hair. The eldest two are relaxed and the younger two are not. After years of relaxing my 3rd niece’s hair, she was almost bald. So her mother decided to stop relaxing. She’s usually braided up b/c she is a multi sport athlete. When she isn’t relaxed, I try to do her hair as much as possible so that no one gets too anxious about the kinks. Hair is manageable with patience. I once gave into my mom’s… Read more »

drjslilbit
9 years ago

I have a 4 year old daughter with 4a/4b mid back length hair (shrinkage is a monster lol). I have to be really gentle with her even though I sometimes dread doing her hair because it takes so long. However, I LOVE her hair. Doing her hair is a weekend event. One day to take out her braids, then wash, and band it. The next day I braid it. She has so much hair that it takes a long time. So we just watch a movie while I take out her hair and while I braid it. You just have… Read more »

EP
EP
9 years ago

The main issue is the fact that there is a lack of education on how to care for natural hair. The deed is done and her hair is already relaxed. Keep it healthy and hope for the best. I have a five year old with very thick hair. I have made it a point to educate myself on how to manage her hair especially because she has a tender head and I do not. Detangling with conditioner in her hair and protective styling if you have difficulty braiding works wonders. She is happier for it. Another option could have been… Read more »

CurlyInTheA
CurlyInTheA
9 years ago

I think the mother has to do what’s right for her. A lot of people can say, NEVER put a perm in a child’s hair, but chances are, they don’t have any kids. I just think that, like anything else, we need to cut the mom some slack. She is the one doing the hair, not us. And based on all of the posts we see on various blogs/forums from adults about the time (hours) it takes on wash day to detangle, wash and then blowdry/flat iron/press/style, I don’t know why everyone thinks that doing all of this on a… Read more »

Bridget
Bridget
9 years ago
Reply to  CurlyInTheA

ITA! I love my natural hair and never intend to get a perm ever again, however, I understand that everyone has to do what works best for them. Also, there are many relaxed ladies on youtube and with hair blogs who provide information on maintaining relaxed hair. Additionally, if Mom later decides this was a bad decision, she can transition her back to natural hair. It is not the end of the world.

JJ
JJ
9 years ago
Reply to  CurlyInTheA

Interesting, I wonder, can a 10+ year old do their own hair?

cygnet
cygnet
9 years ago
Reply to  JJ

Yes. With oversight and guidance fro an adult who cares that the child learns healthy haircare habits, a 10-year-old can learn to care for her own hair. I went to a boarding school that at one time was spread out over two campuses. During grades K‑3, I was blessed to have the bulk of my haircare handled by a person who knew how to wash, press, and style my hair without it suffering any ill effects. Since that is how my own mother also cared for my hair during those years, whenever I was at home, this worked out fine. When I… Read more »

cygnet
cygnet
9 years ago
Reply to  cygnet

Oops! Forgot to mention that I was nine at the time.

Fabre
Fabre
9 years ago
Reply to  CurlyInTheA

Maybe I’m in the minority but I do not do wash, blowdry, press and flat iron or any other prolonged routine. If I wouldn’t do it to myself then I sure wouldn’t do it to a young child who has less patience than I. Naturals with the simplest routines seem to have hair that thrives the most. I don’t believe extended routines with 50–11 steps are favoured among most naturals.

Aline
9 years ago

Mticqah, I think that you should not feel guilty!! She is nine years but she needs to have her own journey.. SO you did the right thing at this time. She will eventually figure out for herself later. You are her role model and one day she will come to you wanting to be natural. SO please, let her enjoy her relax hair, and have fun with the journey. It is just hair. As long as she is healthy and happy who cares. I was natural until 16 , decided to relax because i wanted to know how it felt to… Read more »

Sonya M. Jones
9 years ago
Reply to  Aline

Amen…

Shanta
Shanta
9 years ago

I don’t think it’s okay but what’s done is done. Personally I don’t think a relaxer is easier. In some instances it’s more difficult. The wind and rain don’t bother me the way did when I was relaxed. I don’t have to use a curling iron on flat iron anymore. And I don’t have to worry about the 6–8wk struggle. I remember the cycle of being so pleased with my fresh relaxer, only to be disappointed in those weeks leading up to the next relaxer, then being pleased again. I wouldn’t ever go back to that.

MJ Labonte
MJ Labonte
9 years ago

I have thick kinky coily hair myself & I don’t have any kids/daughters but I’m open to learning new techniques for myself and for my furture daughters before the times comes because I remember those hair days with my mom lol. Most of the naturals in my family have very thick coily hair so I know how much work it can be sometimes especially with little princesses. My sister is planning on having another child (she has two boys and wants a girl so bad) so she watches such videos to hopefully draw in some ‘girl energy’ lol. Anyway she… Read more »

Jeanna
Jeanna
9 years ago

I had my daughter’s hair relaxed last year when she was 11. I struggle with guilt sometimes, but I just make sure that her hair is properly conditioned, and she only gets retouches about every 6 months. So far, it’s going well. You did what you believed was best for your girl, like myself. It’s okay — she’s enjoying her hair. She has your example for natural hair, and chances are that she’ll follow afterwhile. If not, it’s still okay!

Jennifer
9 years ago

I have personally experienced this myself. My mother struggled with my hair as a child and I am very tenderhead! At the age of 3 my mother relaxed my hair so that styling and combing would be easier. Al her girlfriends told her to including my grandmother. Now 32 years later I have just recently gone natural and now I am firmly against kiddie relaxers. My son is 2 and I love his curls! I follow Teri LaFlesh method at wwww.tightlycurly.com and so far love the results for my son and myself. I agree with the other posts about locs.… Read more »

nylse
9 years ago

in the grand scheme of things when it comes to raising children hair maintenance is a small part; small in the sense that it’s superficial. i dont think the writer of the post should feel guilty for doing what she did. its not like its an irreversible procedure. she did it/ she regrets it..as time goes on her daughter may not like it…she can continue to talk and work with her daughters hair until she and her daughter are comfortable.
no need to feel guilty.
speaking from experience and currently we’re all natural.

MsKroberts
9 years ago

I permed all three of my daughters hair prior to the age of 10 each. I REGRET IT SOOOO MUCH. They all had thick heads of beautiful nappy hair but me, being stuck on fitting in and growing tired of managing it I added the perm. Now I can grow hair, i’ve been permed and have always taken care of my own hair and retained lengthy healthy hair. However this was not the case for my kids. I am now growing their hair out natural. I started myjourney last october. with them being 11, 13 and 14 they find it… Read more »

maralondon
maralondon
9 years ago

I am sorry that you felt the pressure to relax your daughter’s hair by your mother. I have a friend who went through the same thing and to this day regrets ever listening to family members. I too have a daughter who is almost 5. Her hair texture is very kinky and has a lot of it. I have had to learn how to deal with this texture as mine is not the same. I can spend hours detangling after a wash, my arms ache like hell half way through the process but i wouldn’t want to change her hair… Read more »

Yasmeen
Yasmeen
9 years ago

My mother did that to me at about the same age and my hair broke off and fell out. I went to a beautician and she told me that I should have waited until after i reached puberty before I got one because my body was still going through changes. But by the time I reached puberty I had learned to take good care of my natural hair because it did get hard on my mother to do it every week. ( She had two girls.)

Kim
Kim
9 years ago

With all due respect, this is America, and we all have freedom to choose what’s best for our families and family situations. No one has the right to judge your decision, you have to do what’s most convenient for your family and lifestyle. As a mom of 3 daughters, it is a task to do hair. I myself am transitioning to natural after 24 years of being processed, and it is a time consuming endeavor. Not to mention that IT’S NOT IRREVERSIBLE!!!! At some point, if you find that it doesn’t work for you or her, you an always grow… Read more »

Annie L.
Annie L.
9 years ago
Reply to  Kim

I didn’t read anything natural about their product on their website from your link. In fact, they didn’t bother to list an ingredient list at all. They did list in the FAQ that it is permanent so I could be wrong but it sounds like a relaxer to me.

Sistacurl
9 years ago

“Tenderheaded” _ that’s code for not knowing how to comb coily, kinky, thick hair. Everyone is tenderheaded when your hair is being pulled, yanked and snatched with combs, brushes and hands. When will we stop abusing our hair and our daughters’ hair? Your daughter didn’t need a perm, she needed some patience. The biggest thing I learned in going natural was to be gentle and patient with my hair. Make time for it and stop trying to rush the process. My hair has thanked me by getting much healthier. We need to treat our hair like fine silk and celebrate… Read more »

mangomadness
mangomadness
9 years ago
Reply to  Sistacurl

+1! Especially to the first paragraph.

Dolores
Dolores
9 years ago
Reply to  Sistacurl

I agree with your suggestion that the idea of being “tender-headed” really doesn’t exist. I was “tender-headed” as a child and as an adult while relaxed (when other people did my hair). Now that I implement gentle handling techniques, doing my hair was no longer painful. My mother attempted to go natural for a while, and once I helped her detangle her hair. She was AMAZED at how light my touch was.

MsKroberts
9 years ago
Reply to  Dolores

Um, yes some people can be tendere headed. I have 3 daughters, do a lot of different peoples hair of all types and have been told by most that I have a very light tender touch. Yet my oldest daughter seemed to think I was torturing her when it was time to comb her hair. So yes, I do believe that even with a gentle touch, it can “hurt” or be uncomfortable to the person who is tender headed person 🙂

Ms. M
Ms. M
9 years ago
Reply to  Sistacurl

Disagree. My daughter is 17 and STILL tenderheaded — even doing HER OWN HAIR! It’s doused with conditioner and slippery as possible, always in braids or twists(including while washing), but it’s also super thick with very tight, fine coils that like to tangle from root to tip even though it’s never left fully loose. It still hurts her and takes her half the day to detangle her hair even after gently finger detangling each section in the shower while soaked in conditioner. Some moms DO put in the effort for their daughters’ hair and it can still be a long,… Read more »

Dolores
Dolores
9 years ago
Reply to  Ms. M

To MsKroberts and Ms.M: your points are well taken. Not to be presumptuous, but finger detangling directed at removing shed hairs and major knots/tangles, and eliminating the expectation that the person’s hair will ever be “thoroughly” detangled may help with the situations you described if you have not tried them already.

DaLeshia
DaLeshia
9 years ago

I don’t think that its fair, but at the same time I do. I used to get perms. I got my first perm when I was in the third grade, and my hair is just like your daughters (thick and I am tender-headed). But at the same time I wish that I would have been able to say whether I wanted it or not or to wait a couple more years. I’m 17 now and I am going natural. I haven’t had a perm for about 6 or 7 months. And I also know where your coming from. My parents let me… Read more »

Leaf
Leaf
9 years ago

I don’t understand why you need to relax a child’s hair. I look back and I wished that my mom never relaxed my hair, the burns on my scalp and the breakage, thining hair line just wasn’t worth it. I couldn’t have fun with my other friends (mostly non black) in many events because they were water related. I can imagine that your daughter if she ends up having bad experiences with relaxers will be feeling the the same way as I do. If she starts having problems with relaxing, just transition, it’s not worth it in the long run,… Read more »

dafou
dafou
9 years ago

because of all the dangerous chemical in relaxers there should be a law prohibiting parents from using it. Ignorance is not an excuse to irreversibly harm children’s future. We don’t know what kind of damage these thing can do.

Lisa
Lisa
9 years ago
Reply to  dafou

+1 and AMEN!! I can’t believe people are still acting like it’s a good idea to put chemicals on anyone’s head especially a child and then just acting like it’s a styling option. Ponytails, twists, updos and such are styling options. Putting chemicals on a tender scalp is not.

Audrey
Audrey
9 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

+1 I’m having a hard time with this as well. I get that people will style their hair the way they see fit. I have no beef with that. But putting a relaxer in is not just a style. It’s clear it’s harmful to our health. I can’t come down on a grown woman for doing that, and I haven’t always been natural, but I’m having a hard time with people thinking it’s OK for a child. All other arguments aside, overall bodily health is most important. And this is not me being judge‑y. This is me being genuinely concerned.… Read more »

V
V
9 years ago

I’m not a mom and I’m certainly not judging. Plus if everyone is happy, so be it. My only concern/ next step would be making sure the child didn’t think badly about her hair. She could now think that her hair as it grows out of her head is bad and has to have a relaxer in order to be beautiful. I don’t think there is a problem having a relaxer but if one feels dependent, as if they have to have a relaxer bc their own hair is completely unmanageable, unruly, and ugly this could cause beauty issues later down… Read more »

Sonya M. Jones
9 years ago

Hi, I can totally relate to what you did & why you did it, as I did the same thing myself. My daughter’s hair is very thick & she has a lot of it as well. She use to cry, get frustrated each time it was time to do her hair. No matter how gentle I was or what products I used. No one convinced me however to perm her hair. I did this all on my own when she was six. It was just three years ago that I decided to try going natural again for the both of… Read more »

peggy
peggy
9 years ago

just continue to take care of it no matter whether it is relaxed or not. It is not the end of the world, if you can make sure her hair never gets over relaxed, never dry and is always cute go for it. I am natural. I am not anti perm. I am anti breakage.

Sonya M. Jones
9 years ago
Reply to  peggy

+2.

shannon
shannon
9 years ago

You shouldn’t beat yourself up because what’s done is done. However, if you are feeling a certain way about it, then I would suggest changing how you handle that situation in the future.

Bumper
Bumper
9 years ago

I was very tender headed as a child with thick afro hair and my mum found ways to comb and wash my hair without torturing me, despite there being very limited products for black people at the time. I honestly think you did not find the right products to use in your daughter’s hair in order to make it soft and manageable. What worked in your hair may not have worked for her. Even as an adult I have tried several hair mosturizers, recipes, etc from this site, but the only moisturizer that truly softens my really thick hair enough… Read more »

Annie L.
Annie L.
9 years ago

Do you feel you understand your daughters hair and haircare as well as you understand your own? Do you know her hair density? Strand diameter? Porosity? Curl pattern/texture? Your area humidity? These are honest questions. Connecting the dots that my hair is thick, medium diameter, spongy and coily, low porosity and that my city is humid helped answer why moisture and humectants were my hair’s BFF, why 99.9% of all oils and butters made my head a greasy mess, why my hair held coils and curls forever with no product, why it felt so dry all the time and how… Read more »

lee
lee
9 years ago

My mother put a relaxer in my hair when I was about 9 or 10, and I think it was a mistake. I really believe it was a lack of knowledge about black hair. God blessed me with a son so I do not have this problem. If I had a daughter I would leave perming her hair as a decision she makes when she is much older. I don’t think I would personally feel comfortable doing that. If I could not comb it I would find someone that could.

Fabre
Fabre
9 years ago

I think a problem with being loc’ed is that people seem to either forget how or dislike doing natural LOOSE hair. Just because someone has chosen that path does not mean they love their natural tresses. I have noticed that many natural hairdressers are loc’ed women and definitely feel that many of them prefer natural hair in this state and dislike styling loose kinky natural hair. When you wear loose natural hair you learn its every nuance and how to cater better to it. To me locs are like the ultimate protective style, 24/7, 365 and I can see how… Read more »

dalilou
dalilou
9 years ago
Reply to  Fabre

I don’t think this has anything to do with the mother being locked. The majority of women that I know who have locs take care of their daughters’ hair in their natural, loose, state. OR, they have a stylist do it if they can’t manage. Some of them loc their daughters’ hair, but many refuse citing that they want their daughters to make their own decision at the right age. I have locs and if I have a daughter I will detangle and plait her hair just like my grandmother, aunts, and mother did- all who had straight, relaxed hair… Read more »

MBB
MBB
9 years ago
Reply to  Fabre

I completely agree with you on this! This is why I’m starting to believe that locs are the new relaxer.

MBB
MBB
9 years ago
Reply to  MBB

My +1 was meant for Fabre

Helya
Helya
9 years ago

I was all for my 2 younger girls getting relaxers (by a professional licensed salon owner) to help tame and manager their hair. They had super thick long heads of hair that was almost a full day of work to wash, condition, detangle etc and yes they are tender headed. Their hair liked it for a little while. Not until this year did I regret my decision. Their hair is just the same anymore. The texture totally changed and one had bad breakage. So we agreed they would return to natural hair. So as their hair grows out I have… Read more »

Michelle
Michelle
9 years ago

I used a texture on my 5yr hair, because they told me it would loosen the curls. Once she can back from the beauty shop there were no curls and she would have to go back every three months. Then i thought about it that was to much for a child to go through, plus the breakage starts after a few years. I slowly start to cut little by little until all the perm was gone. I did the big chop on my self to show her that there is nothing wrong with your hair black is beauty. To take… Read more »

Afrochelle
Afrochelle
9 years ago

You did the wrong thing by sending your daughter a message that her hair is a “problem” that needs to be fixed with a relaxer. There are now tons of youtube tutorials out there teaching moms quick and easy ways to care for their daughters’ natural hair. There’s no excuse anymore for dumping a bucket of relaxer on your child’s head and calling it a day.

Dolores
Dolores
9 years ago

Related to this idea of being “tender-headed” is the idea that kinky hair needs to be combed. It doesn’t. You can use your fingers in lieu of a comb, and you really don’t have to “thoroughly” detangle your hair (and I am not talking about allowing the hair to lock). The truth is that kinky hair is never really detangled — it will tangle right back up two seconds after you run a fine tooth comb through it. It is more important to remove shed hairs and major knots/tangles. I think adjusting expectations may cut down the time and pain… Read more »

Shakira
Shakira
9 years ago

It is so easy for ppl who are not in your situation to ”know” what everyone should do. Please! What’s done is done, just make sure you take the best care that you can with her hair now so it doesn’t break off or get too damaged. From now on go with your first mind.

Robbi
9 years ago

I do not think that it is acceptable to relax a child’s hair out of convenience. Even though it may not be our hair, it is our responsibility — to manage and learn how to take care of it properly. I regret that my mom relaxed my hair out of convenience and now that I look at old pictures, my hair looks GORGEOUS and like it was a lot more easier to comb then than now. I think after turning to relaxers and going natural again, my hair has thickened, if that makes any sense.. I could be exaggerating, but still..… Read more »

Audrey
Audrey
9 years ago
Reply to  Robbi

I don’t think it’s laziness, generally. I think it’s frustration and pressure. It’s hard to juggle kids and other responsibilities. I agree about avoiding relaxers, but I don’t think mother-shaming is the way to go.

Icanrelate
Icanrelate
9 years ago

No. If you’re having trouble with your child’s hair, buy a pound of bentonite clay online, it’s cheaper, find a good leave in and get to twisting. No excuses. Stop perming the hair of the babies!!!!!!!!!!!

Dolores
Dolores
9 years ago
Reply to  Icanrelate

Just out of curiosity, how would bentonite clay help? I’ve heard people talking about it as a cleanser, but what benefits can it provide beyond that?

Patricia Kayden
Patricia Kayden
9 years ago

What would Mticqah do if she couldn’t perm her child’s hair? If her child is so tender headed that she couldn’t manage her natural hair, wouldn’t chemicals also hurt her child’s scalp? My scalp is now so sensitive that it scabs up if I put chemicals in my hair. There has to be a way we can manage our daughter’s hair without making the drastic move to place chemicals on their scalp and alter their hair texture. Not being judgmental at all — just don’t like the idea of perming childrens’ hair. But then again, I’m not a parent so I… Read more »

Molly
Molly
9 years ago

Since she asked for everyone’s opinion, I’ll just say up front that, no I don’t think its okay and yes I think she made the wrong decision. As many have noted though, what’s done is done.

I’m curious though as to why putting a relaxer on a child who’s “tender-headed” would be better than keeping the toxic chemicals off her already sensitive scalp and just finding a way to minimize the pull on her natural hair. In the long run, the perms are only going to jack up her scalp even more and will have more adverse affects than say…combing.

Candy
Candy
9 years ago
Reply to  Molly

That’s what I was thinking.… I also don’t understand why the child needs to be in tight braids all the time (I sure hated my braid days, even though I had a relaxer as a child!). Every kid’s going to whine and squirm on hair day — even my son does it with his shorter hair. If she’s really tender-headed, maybe try finger-detangling with plenty of slippy conditioner and a hair rake or tangle teezer, which is a godsend btw. There’s no reason on this green earth that anyone, especially a child, should be subjected to harsh chemicals. If you… Read more »

peaches hime
peaches hime
9 years ago

I regret the day my mother put a relaxer in my hair as a young child, and she did so and continued to for the same reason. I also find that parents who can not be bothered to deal with the fact that their child will feel pain and some form of discomfort when getting their hair done, and therefore relaxes the poor child’s head to make it easier for them. This way its a quicker process, less crying, blahh blahh blahh. I still struggle with my hair after being natural for 9 years (i am 24 now) but this is… Read more »

sib
sib
9 years ago

Reading some of these posts is raising my blood pressure. I don’t think Mticqah did the right thing, but I don’t think she did the wrong thing. If the little girl is crying and screaming and making a fuss every time she has to get her hair done, why subject her. I think we fail to realize that, that can be equally traumatizing. Maybe even more so than getting a relaxer. She may look back at her experiences with her hair and never go natural because it was always a fuss. However perhaps when she’s ready to take care of… Read more »

Candy
Candy
9 years ago
Reply to  sib

I feel you. I haven’t read any of the hurtful comments yet, but I know there are natural nazis out there. I was permed from the time I was 4 to the time I decided “to hell with it” at 16. And I know it felt worse and worse each time that crap was shmeared on my head, lol. Few children actually enjoy getting their hair done. But just because a kid doesn’t like something, is that reason enough to forgo it? Most kids don’t like veggies either until their parents teach them to like them. For me, it’s not… Read more »

HoneyMiel
HoneyMiel
9 years ago
Reply to  sib

Why is it that every time someone has an opinion it is considered militant? It’d be different if this was just some story she shared, but the woman ASKED for opinions. And she got them.

ScrewyHair
9 years ago

This post resonates with me because less than 24 hours ago, my mother texturized my 12-year-old son’s hair without my permission because “his hair never looks combed.” I was livid. Back story: we’d agreed he could grow out his hair on the condition that it be combed at all times. (My kid’s one of those boys who always seem to have taken a mud bath fully clothed, though he’s starting to grow out of it.) His last haircut was maybe 6 months ago, but his hair grows really slowly–my sis thinks I’m being generous by saying it’s grown about 1.5 inches… Read more »

Clarisse
Clarisse
9 years ago

Personally, I would cut my daughter’s hair before I would relax it. Why wasn’t that an option? A cute short, to medium afro with hair accessories would have been age appropriate, yet still feminine. Another option could have been to lock your daughter’s hair.

Candy
Candy
9 years ago

No relaxers ever, especially for babies. It isn’t right on any level. Cut her hair before you do that.

Stephanie
Stephanie
9 years ago

Hi Mticqah, You have my support in what you did. I can relate to what you were going through. My daughter begged for a relaxer for years but I told her she had to wait until she was at least 13. Well, she wore me down with countless mornings of her tender-headed hair combing. She was miserable and so was I. I worked nights and had to rush home in the mornings to fight with her to get her hair done. (And for those who say, do her hair the night before, we tried and her hair never looked right… Read more »

Frederica
Frederica
9 years ago

Mticquah, I could have written the same thing you did, I let a hair dresser talk me into putting a perm in my 5 year old baby head. I feel so guilty now…because I wear a natural.…I decided to move on from that and just let the perm grow out and NEVER put a perm in my child hair. The worst mistake I never made.

bd
bd
9 years ago

There is more to life than hair. If you and your child are happier don’t beat yourself up over it. She can always go natural later but may never forgot the feelings of anxiousness and distress. I say build happy memories for your family whatever it takes. Don’t let the judgment of others rule how you raise your child–only you can decide what’s best for her.

Ashley Yancey
9 years ago

I don’t think you were wrong‑I think you were right. You have to do what works best for you and your daughters lifestyle. The constant fighting, pulling and conflict was not working for your lifestyle. THAT IS OKAY. Lol. My mom put a relaxer in my hair at three years old for this exact reason. I am 25 today and I don’t think she was wrong. My hair was super thick and long and I HATED getting my hair done. HATED IT! Even after the relaxers, my hair continued to thrive because my mother knew how to take care of my… Read more »

jenna
jenna
9 years ago

i think it was neither wrong or rite cause im facing the same decision in cutting my sons hair cause he screams an balds when im combing his hair.

HoneyMiel
HoneyMiel
9 years ago

I know I’m late on this but…what does it mean when people say that a child who was born with curly-kinky-whatever hair, is not ready to deal with their natural hair? I think that some kids just don’t like to get their hair done period, and a lot of parents just aren’t willing to be patient. Which is sort of understandable.From my experience dealing with my relaxed hair by myself was a lot more responsibility. Dealing with “natural hair” is different, and I think it’s only hard if you make it so. My hair was hard when I wanted to… Read more »

Latifah
Latifah
8 years ago

My daughter is 6, her hair when stretched is down her back, and she is extremely tenderheaded also. I’ve just been more patient and gentler with her because I want her to know beautiful her hair is as it comes out of her head. With that said, I can’t say if you did the right thing or not. But if you’re feeling guilty, I’d say not. I would express that no matter how the hair is worn, it all takes care. What time that is saved with a relaxer, is made up somewhere else. I can’t judge the rightness or… Read more »

Kimberly
Kimberly
6 years ago

I put a relaxer in my daughter’s hair. I had the same problems as you were having. She and I are both happy, and I take great care of it. It’s easy for me to spot the dead ends, and her hair is down her back. I cannot tell you if it’s wrong or right, but it was right for us. As for your guilt, I’m not sure if you mean it’s yours, or if you feel guilty by what others may think or the decision they would have made in your circumstance. You could always let the relaxer grow out… Read more »

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