Dying a 13 year old's hair

zone_8grandmaNovember 28, 2006

First of all, I'm a grandmother, not the mom. Second, I am keeping my mouth shut.

But....I'd like some feedback from others. My DIL dyed my granddaughter's hair. Her natural color is dark blonde and my DIL wanted the child's hair to match her own (dyed) color.

Second, my granddaughter is 13 chronologically only. She is developmentally disabled. Mentally and emotionally she is closer to 6 or 7. She is also overweight which concerns me (another subject I can't touch with a 10 foot pole).

So... am I over-reacting?

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In the big scheme of things... hair color is very low on the 'Things to worry about' list.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 7:22PM
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I usually post over at the Home Decorating forum, but I saw your post and felt I should answer you.

My daughter is a perfect match for your granddaughter and I sort of want to disagree with the above poster.

With "normal" kids, these are truly unimportant things.

Kids like my DD and zone_8's GD react diferently to the world around them and it is not always good to make developomentally delayed kids look very adult. They are easy prey for people who are looking to exploit their innocence.

The dying of your GD's hair doesn't bother me in and of itself, I would look at the bigger picture. Is your granddaughter being pushed into adolescence and a more adult look in general, or is this a one time "let's do a matching mother-daughter haircolour"?

As far as her wight goes, trust me when I say that my daughter is overweight as well and I can't do a thing about it. Your daughter may be equally frustrated.

She is big enough that I can't just pick her up and take her out for a walk. She loves her computer, and is actually learning a lot. She plays mainly educational games. I am working on getting her out for more sports activities, but she will go a couple of times, not have the skills necessary to play the sport and then she refuses to go again.

There are very few foods that she is willing to eat - our fridge is full of lots of low/no fat cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, but her main meals are very restricted to things that are "stew-like". Pasta is a big favorite - I puree vegetables to hide in her sauce. I started with very small quantities of pureed veggies and gradually increased the amount so the taste wouldn't change drastically.

Fresh fruits, except for bananas and grapes) and fresh veggies are totally out of her realm.

The weight issue is one of my biggest problems. I try to give her healthier choices, but I think that her food selections are broadening at the rate of one new food every year!

Hope this helps a bit.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 8:36PM
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One thing that occurs is that maybe your GD wants her hair to be the same color as her mother's hair. In that case, it was a nice thing your DIL did. Even developmentally disabled girls notice things. With an actual age of 13 and a mental age of 6 or 7 she would notice her mother's hair color, and a lot more. There's probably not a lot her mother can do for/with her. This may be a nice moment for both of them.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 10:05PM
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Sorry, but I don't really think it's your business or worth worrying about.

It's a little hard to overly judge a mother in her position anyway. I can't relate to your daughter, but can sympathize enough to know that she may feel the need to do some things with her daughter that other moms may not normally do.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 11:44PM
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Thank you all for your feedback. Homemaker, thank you especially for your insight and thougtful response.

Just to clarify - it's my daughter in law, not daughter. She colors her hair (no big deal, so do I), but she chose to dye the child's hair to match her own. The child did not request it.

You are right - in the larger scheme of things it's not that big of a deal and I'm certainly not saying anything. BUT, this child is (mentally and emotionally) no older than 6 or 7. And the action of her mother has me baffled. This is my only granddaughter and she is very precious to me.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 1:14PM
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Well, maybe I am crazy and you can totally ignore my comments since I don't have any kids myself, but if my SIL dyed either one of my nieces hair to match her own (dyed or not) I would think there was an issue there. One daughter is mentally challanged and one is not. I don't think it would be appropriate for EITHER! Just my $.02.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 1:44PM
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Why don't you just ask your DIL why she did it? I would think it may answer at least your curiosity about it.

Maybe the child has premature greying due to a genetic disorder and maybe the reason she dyed it her own color is because it was the only color she happened to have at home. Plus, my SIL is older, but she colors her hair the same color as MIL--often people have the same coloring in families so use the same color.

Not exactly sure what "issue" we could be talking about that would be linked with dying your disabled daughter's hair the same color as your own -- maybe it's the same disease those moms have that make all members of their families wear matching outfits in professional photo's?

I've seen 13 yr olds with blue hair with heavy black makeup and infants with earrings. Everyone has reasons for doing or allowing things. If you can't let it drop, or it's going to frustrate you, why don't you just ask (nicely of course, and not with a judgmental tone)? What does you son say?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 2:23PM
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Based on what little we know from above, I don't see a problem with the hair dye. I've been in the beauty salon when developmentally delayed people have come to have their hair done. They seem to enjoy the attention and they also want to look their best.

I'm not in your dil's shoes. I do have a 3 yo dd who loves to copy what mommy does. She wants to wear makeup and make her hair pretty. It could be that your dgd wants to be like mommy. Or maybe your dil thinks she is helping your dgd take pride in her appearance and it was something the child wanted.

Is the overweight issue related to child's condition? For instance, children with Down's Syndrome tend to have weight issues and then there are the so-called "normal" children who sit in front of the tv and don't get enough excercise. If you think it's related to the latter, maybe you could help. Take your grandaughter for an afternoon. Feed her the right foods, go walking, go to the park, etc. Offer to pay for some gymanstics classes or maybe help her to get involved with the Special Olympics programs. I bet there are several ways that you could approach the situation that would be non-confrontational.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 2:52PM
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I did not ask my DIL the reason because she is hypersensitive and takes offense very easily. I don't want to make a major issue of it. It simply bothered me and I wanted feedback from others.

A while back, my son told me that DIL wanted to color her hair and also the daughter's so that it would look as if it were her (the mother's)natural color. He said he told her it was a really bad idea (to dye the child's hair). So I know he didn't approve.

The GD does not have premature greying hair - her natural color was a dark blonde. I've also seen teenagers with strange colored hair. But this girl is not a teenager mentally or emotionally. She still plays with her Barbie dolls. And she did not request the dye job. It was totally her mother's idea.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 3:00PM
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Some wonderful posts here.

I would like to suggest that the mother has a problem in that she wants the child to look like her. Perhaps she should treat her as an individual, why would you want your daugher to have the same hair colour, it seems very trivial, to me.

My daugher has black hair and I am blond, I think its wonderful that she is different, she is unique and so am I.

It is probably just a passing faze, they probably won't keep it up, its harmless really. The hassle of dying the hair will overtake the thrill of it.

Its right for you to be concerned about the child's weight. Do you think she is eating properly ?

I can't see that you can do much about it, just make sure when the child is in your house that you do axtivities with her, take her for a walk along the beach, out walking is fun. Make fun healthy food for her to eat.

It difficult for you, when you can see thing going on, and you can't really step in and take control. Try not to worry yourself too much, just say to yourself that you will change, for the better, the things you can, and leave it at that.

Lead by example is a good thing to keep in mind.

I applaud you for being such a caring grandmum.


    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 8:35PM
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Carla's comment above about the mother needing to do things with her daughter catches my heart. I try to think how it would be in her position. How hard it would be to know that you and your daughter will not be sharing many of the usual experiences that enrich this powerful relationship! Maybe this was an attempt on that mother's part to share something with her daughter in some (maybe symbolic) way. If that is the case, how touching that she wanted them to have the same color hair. She could just as easily distance herself from her daughter as many parents do in such cases. Maybe she is trying in some way not even fully known by her, to hold on to her daughter or to make a way for her to identify with her.

I think, unless I had strong reasons to believe there is a sinister reason, I would try hard to give that mother the benefit of the doubt.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 9:35AM
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I dont think you're wrong and here is why.My mom drilled it in my head from an early age,that my brown hair was ugly and a curse and that being blonde was always better then any other haircolor there is.
So at about the same age,I started dyeing my hair. This became an obsession with me and gave me low self essteam cuz she wouldnt LET my sister dye her hair cuz it was "so pretty" and strawberry blonde.
Well,I'am almost 30 now,and for the first time since that age I have my natural brown hair I'am growing out.And it is beautiful! And matches my features better.It's not all dried out and bleached.
I just think her mom could give her a complex,exspecially if she is emotionally immature as you say,and make her feel like she is not fine the way she is.
My daughter has been told she will not dye her hair until she is 18 and out my house because her hair is beautiful the way it is.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 5:34AM
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zone8grandma, you said "...A while back, my son told me that DIL wanted to color her hair and also the daughter's so that it would look as if it were her (the mother's)natural color."

Seems pretty clear to me that that's your answer. In other words, your daughter-in-law wants people to think that her own hair isn't dyed, so colored the child's hair to be the same (so that it looks as though it's the genetic hair color).

My opinion is that that's lousy. If it's truly the reason, she's using the child for her own benefit. That stinks.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 5:36PM
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Is it hurting the child to have her hair colored? Does she object? Is it exploitation in any sort of harmful way?
Well, then, forget about it.
Granted I think it's odd and so do you and most people on this forum....but un the long run, it does the child no harm....and if it makes the mother happy....so what?
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 11:33PM
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If, when I was 13 (or any other age, for that matter), my mother had dyed my hair without me asking her to do it, it would've made me feel as though she wanted to change me, in other words that I wasn't the way she wanted me to be.

And if I knew that she was exploiting me for her own benefit I'd hate that, too.

So yes, it would hurt me - emotionally.

But that's my opinion.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 8:29AM
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A great deal depends on the mother's attitude....if she says about her daughter, doesn't she look cute with blond hair? What's the harm? I combed and put bows in my daughter's hair when I am sure she would have a lot rather gone around with a tangled messy mop. My mother set my hair on curlers when I was 6 or 7...I loved the cute curls. I see no harm in it ( mind you, I think it's odd but not harmfull)
Now if the mother were saying "you are so ugly!!! I am going to dye your hair and see if that helps!"...then that would be different.
I know lots of 13 year old girls who are dabbeling with hair color themselves, it goes along with growing up and wanting to use make up and all. Perhaps the mother wants the girl, who it has been said is developmentally disabled, to think more about her appearance, to join the teen agers so to speak?
The bottom line is does the child object to the new hair color....if not...I'd say no harm at all.
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 12:59PM
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Lindac,you didnt read the post where zone8 grandma said this WAS NOT THE CHILD'S idea. Putting bows or curls is quite different from chemically altering her natural color,which at 13 is quite young.If she was 16 or 17 it wouldnt be a big deal.But at this still tender age,this is teaching the child "My mom doesnt think I'm pretty the way I'am"
My mom never actually said I was ugly,but that's what stuck with me while she wanted to change my haircolor.In fact,I'd go as far to say my whole life I honestly believed blonde WAS better because of my exprience. Now I know it's not.Now I know it was my mom's own insecurities that made her say that to me.
And if the mom IS dyeing the girl's hair so they look more geneticly alike,it is most certainly not ok.I agree with suzieque it is not cool to use the child in that way.
The child should be taught she is beautiful for how she is,and that her mom is proud of her,not wants to change her.
Being that the daughter is already emotionally immature,this could make her pretty insecure.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2006 at 3:13AM
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I read the post and I stand by my opinion.
I have a handicapped grandson and realize that there are many things one might to to urge a child to grow a bit and act in a more "age appropriate" manner....and see no harm in dying the child's hair.....after all it is just HAIR....and will grow out...or if the daughter doesn't like the color, that is easily changed in less than an hour.
Is there something about "chemically altering her natural color" that you object to? It may not have been the girl's idea, but she might not want to wear a coat in the winter, or dress properly for church.
Bottom line? I say don't be so concerned, Grandma. Unless the child, your granddaughter, is upset about it and comes complaining to you let it go. I am sure there are many more important issues having to do with raising a child who is mentally challanged. Perhaps her mother thinks she might gain self esteem by looking more fashionable and perhaps be prompted to be more active.
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 31, 2006 at 6:04PM
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Yes I do object to chemically altering her hair,alot of those chemicals are very harsh to breath in and not for younger more sensitive skin! Comparing that to wearing a coat is a bit stupid dont you think? afterall you need a coat,you dont need someone to make you into something you are not.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 3:27AM
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Let's just agree to disagree,because I'm not gonna change my opinion.I just think in this completely superfical world, acts like these show kids they have to be "attractive" and grow up too fast,when they should wear less make up be more natural and enjoy being children while they can.13 is really not that old.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 3:38AM
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I'am in the middle,I think if the child wants it,it would be ok,but this sounds kinda werid.I dont know about a mom who makes her child have the same color as herself.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 2:32AM
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Quite a coincidence I saw this today. I was waiting for my daughter while she had a hair cut today. I overheard another patron mention she had been dying her daughter's hair since the girl was FIVE (just a bit younger than the mental age of the OP's GD) because it was an ugly color. Unfortunately even the father was unable to prevent the dye job in the case of the OP's GD. It's just sad that the mother has bought into some commercial vision of beauty. I feel sorry for both girls. I can only imagine how these girls will grow up feeling about their appearance.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 11:28PM
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Some of you that have a child who is developmentally delayed, or looks "different" may understand what I believe could be the mothers motive. Especially because the child is also overweight. Sadly, we live in a society that places a high value on peoples "looks" and an even higher value on whether a child (or an adult for that matter) is "normal"...

For someone who has a child who is not "normal" they become sensitive to the "stares" or hurtful comments from not only people they know, but from strangers at a store, or at a restaurant, etc. It hurts. It hurts them to see the world hurt/reject their child. As the child gets older, and begins to lose their toddler/young child cuteness that people will sometimes make allowances for, they may try and make the older child/person more attractive, to not only fit in more, or be more accepted by a society quick to judge not only the "different" older child, but the parent as well. Now that her daughter may well be almost the size of her mother, she may feel that she too is being judged along with her daughter. And so she may be simply trying to make her daughter look more attractive, because she may feel that she (or they both) will be more accepted by others then. Less stared at, or dismissed, or rejected, or less different. And I think that the weight issue plays into this as well. She may be looking at her overweight "different" daughter, and seeing her through the eyes of others. And in trying to alleviate the feelings of shame she may hide, she may be doing what she thinks may make her look more attractive and "normal".

I am also going to ask this...do you especially resent seeing your GD hair this color, because it reminds you of her mother who you may not like? And you care for your GD, but not her mother? If your own daughter did the same thing, would it bother you as much? I know that there can be some bad feelings towards a DIL, and I am wondering if you feel critical towards her in general. Please forgive me if I am completely off base, just looking at it from a different perspective, and tossing it out to consider for whatever it is worth.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 7:26AM
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It's clear from your post that you have some firsthand experience with a disabled child. What you said about seeing other people look at your child oddly echos what my DIL has also said. (And what I've experienced when I've taken my DGD on outings)

do you especially resent seeing your GD hair this color, because it reminds you of her mother who you may not like?
No, not at all. In fact I think that the color is a nice color and it has added body to her very fine hair.

And you care for your GD, but not her mother?
I do care for both of them, but at times my DIL does things that puzzle me. This is one of them

If your own daughter did the same thing, would it bother you as much?
I don't have a daughter, but if I did, yes, it would bother me if she dyed a child's hair.

I know that there can be some bad feelings towards a DIL, and I am wondering if you feel critical towards her in general.
I've been accused of being a critical person - there's probably some truth there. I'm just as critical of myself.

I've appreciated reading all of the responses to my original post. I was shocked that anyone would dye a child's hair, but especially a disabled child, and particularly my disabled granddaughter. Seeing the responses of others echoes my gut feeling of "yes, it's an odd thing to do, but in the bigger picture, not a major issue".
The truth is that her weight worries me much more. She has already dealt with so many health issues, and our society is not kind to people with weight issues.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 1:20PM
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I agree with Coolmama. She IS a cool mama. Girls need to be told, retold and then told again that they are beautiful just the way they are. Dying her hair is sending the message that her natural beauty isn't good enough. DIL has problems I agree, but it's not your place to say. I would let your son know how you feel, though.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2007 at 7:10PM
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I could see if it was maybe the child's idea,but even then I'd probably have to say no. This is promoting low self essteam in a big I'm-not-good-enough-for-mom way.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 11:27PM
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