When Did You Let Your Child Decide?

Updated on August 21, 2012
A.H. asks from Canton, OH
36 answers

My daughter will be four next week. She has hair that is almost down to her butt. She asked if she could get her hair cut for her birthday. She said she wants her hair cut like her friends which is a shoulder lenght bob. Im at a loss because I love her hair. My SO is very against it because he loves long hair on little girls. At what age do you let them decide?

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So What Happened?

Thanks ladies..i say she has a choice but my SO (her Dad) wants to keep it long..but it is a pain to keep all the tangles out..
Thanks again ladies...just to add, my SO isn't being a jerk about it or anything. He would prefer she keep it long BUT if she still wants it cut this weekend, I'm sure he'll let her. Maybe not cut all of it off but I bet he would be OK with about 5 or 6 inches.
**Well, we got him to agree to it after she looked at him and said "pretty pretty please Daddy"...lol! She now has shoulder length hair and has been very excited to show everybody.

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answers from Phoenix on

look at it this way,
she is little and it will be easier and cute for this age.
she will grow it out again someday. I love my childs
hair long too, but I would love it if she would get a bob.

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answers from Philadelphia on

it's her hair. i dont see that teaching her looks are of upmost important is a great lesson dad should be thinking of. I mean he's essentially saying you can't do what you want because i think you're more cute the other way. what happened to you're beautiful no matter how you look?

unless she wanted a buzz cut i'd let my daughter have a big role in her hair (i want to cut it, she's five and it's a pain with knots-she loves it long). afterall, it does grow back and it is hers.

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answers from Washington DC on

i would NEVER force my own hair preferences on a child. i had sit-on length hair when i was 4 or 5. it was my mother's pride and joy. but we had daily battles and i wanted it cut, and she cried (and kept the pony tail in a little embroidered box) but she let me.
it's just hair.
she wants it for her BIRTHDAY.
let her get her hair cut!

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answers from Austin on

Do it. This is an easy wish to fulfill.

We had long hair growing up.. It was a pain..
My father would not allow any of us to get our hair cut, because he loved it.. .. The moment our parents got a divorce, we got our hair cut!!!!

It is her hair, she gets to decide. Honor her wishes and let her know her wants are valuable and important and she has control over her body.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My kids have all had free reign over their hair length as soon as they were old enough to have an opinion. My oldest son had long hair from grades 3-6 then voluntarily went short again. My 6 year old is trying to grow his out but usually gets aggravated enough at some point to ask for a cut. My 8 year old goes from a wiffle to a boys regular.

It's her hair - let her get it cut. She can always grow it back if she wants to. My SD's mother wouldn't let her cut her hair for years because she (the mom) liked it down to her waist. It was ridiculous, out of style and hard for her to maintain. She hated sitting to have it brushed and having to put it in braids and pony tails to keep it out of her way. When she was 11 I took her to a salon and she had more than a foot cut off and has kept it just below her shoulders ever since.

It's not your hair or your husbands - let her make this choice.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

when they can voice an opinion they get a say in it.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

At what age? NOW. It's her hair, not your SO's.

Come on, should you (and your SO) be attaching so much importance to hair, and ultimately to looks? It is really unhealthy in many ways not to let her cut her hair. And it's a little creepy that your SO (her father?) cares so much about her hair.

Let her cut her hair.

edit: Saw your what happened - okay so your SO is her father, which makes it unlikely that he is a child molester. But really, it is not his business to force her to keep her hair long, just because HE likes it that way. That's WAY out of line, in my opinion. What is she, his little toy?

Tell dad "sorry, but she gets to decide on her own hairstyle. She has to live with it, not you."

Reading the responses below: What's up with all the dads who insist that their little girls' hair stay long? I'm sorry, but that just screams of chauvinism and objectification to me, and it's extremely irritating. What the heck.

The more I think about this issue, the more infuriated I get, so I have to get off this website, NOW.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It's her hair. She gets to decide. Give your SO a doll so he can admire the long hair - that is what he is treating her like.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Are you kidding me?
It's hair.
WTH does a (straight) man care about hair anyway?
I'm sorry but I just don't get it.
Is your "SO" her father, if not then he has no say one way or another :(
I like hair and makeup and fashion and shoes and ALL that, but little girls should be free to find their way.
If she wants shoulder length hair, who cares, IT'S HER HAIR, give her some sense of independence, personality and pride.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

This isn't about your SO. It's not his hair. Why do men think that it should be their choice what a female's hair should look like?

What length is YOUR hair, A.? Is it down to your butt? If it isn't, why? If you don't like your hair that long, then understand that your daughter doesn't like her hair that long either. Let her decide. It's her hair.


8 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Let her get her hair cut, and if it's long enough, you might be able to donate it to Locks of Love - they use real human hair to make wigs for kids who have lost their hair because of chemotherapy and other conditions (check with the hair stylist about what the criteria are).

I don't know why men/husbands/fathers have this thing about wanting their daughters to have long hair - it's a pain to take care of and usually they are not the ones stuck taking care of! A friend of ours is divorced and shares custody of her daughter with her father - when the girl was younger, the dad always wanted her to keep her hair long, but the weeks that she was with him, she would come back to mom's a tangled mess because he couldn't be bothered to brush it out and the girl wasn't able to totally do it herself. So Mom would end up getting cut shorter to a more manageable length and Dad would have a fit - but still wasn't willing to help his daughter take care of it when it was long! Someone may have an opinion, but it's really between the daughter and whoever is actually in charge of taking care of the hair!

Keeping the hair trimmed and getting rid of the split ends will help keep it healthy and strong. Even if you trim it to shoulder length or a couple inches below, it's still "long enough" in my book. A friend of mine was telling me about a friend of hers whose daughter's hair had gotten so long, and neither wanted to cut it, but then when she was sitting on the toilet, the ends of it were getting into the water! So they finally had to be okay with taking off a few inches.

It's your daughter's hair - if she wants a hair cut, let her have it. From the sounds of it, it will grow back fast enough. Though like Cheerful said, I would make sure she understands it will still take a while and that this isn't just her seeing what her friend has and wanting to be just like her. My daughter has the opposite problem - she wants long hair and hers doesn't hardly grow at all! It's also very curly and tangles easily, so keeping it short is easier for now!

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answers from Seattle on

Maybe you could talk to your SO and reassure him that it WILL grow back. I wish my DD would let us cut her hair... it would be so much easier to maintain and she would finally stop sucking on it (YUCK!).

But seriously, my hair is long now, two year ago I had a pixie cut... it's hair, it grows.... let her cut it off if she wants!

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answers from Sacramento on

I say let her cut it... it will grow back and it's her head. Maybe she's tired of keeping it long. Long hair is hot and a pain to care for even though it's probably you still brushing it. If your SO loves long hair let him grow his to his butt.

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answers from Savannah on

Wow. I would be livid if my dad, boyfriend, husband, whatever decided for me what my hair would look like, just because of his personal taste. I can understand boundaries like no bangs to the chin, or no shaving it bald, but I can't understand "You will have it this one way, because that's what I like". If she's old enough to see fashion styles around her and to voice her desire, she's old enough to get a haircut. Otherwise, I'd fear that I was teaching her that she just needs to ignore what she wants and not bother voicing her opinion because the man in her life says it should be what he wants. That might sound extreme, but really, we're teaching our children (while they're little) what to expect and what to accept when they're older (and away from my protection). That's my opinion.

Besides, who knows? Maybe she'll enjoy this shorter hair for awhile (a shoulder length bob isn't exactly a crew cut, and it's fashionable and liberating for the little kids who just want to PLAY...because they're KIDS)...and when she's older, she can grow it out if she chooses to.

My son did not care about his hair at all (except "Mommy make it stand up", or "Mommy brush it like Daddy's hair") until this summer, age 5. He asked for a "soldier cut" because he loves all things "soldier" right now (my grandpa had a full military funeral and it seems to have made a big impression on my son). He wanted his hair basically shaved off. He had great hair, long enough to be wavy, long enough to style, but I asked if he was sure, and he was. We compromised and used the clippers on "5" and buzzed a lot off, but not so bald that I'd be scared he'd get a sunburn on his scalp (we're at the beach 3-4 days every week, and at the pool the other days). It does look like the hair a lot of the local soldiers wear, not the fresh out of bootcamp bald, but short. He was so pleased with it, and he's cute no matter what.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I say let her decide it is her head and she is the one to maintain it.

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answers from Grand Forks on

When I was a little girl my mother made me keep my thick, curly hair short. She did not want to have to try to keep it tangle free, and she wanted me to be able to play and have fun without my hair getting in the way. I remember I wanted to grow it long, and my dad said I could, but my mom said my dad had to look after it. That didn't last long!!! I say if her dad wants it long, then he gets to care for it. It really isn't very fair to the little girl saddling her with all that hair that she doesn't want anyway. I can't imagine it is very easy to run and play and swim and have fun, especially when it is hot out.

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answers from Phoenix on

It's her hair. Hair grows back. Let her get her hair cut. Why people are so emotionally attached to hair, something that grows, is beyond me!!

DD had her first cut at 3 and her hair was down to her butt. I loved it long, but it was such a huge relief to not have to deal with the tangly, wavy mess every day.

My guess is that dad is doing ZERO of the hair maintenance, so he gets no say. And, like I said, it's JUST HAIR! And hair grows!!

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answers from Canton on

Let her decide. Even at age 4 she's old enough to decide how long her hair should be. She'll be just as beautiful with shorter hair as with long.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I let her decide when she was able to articulate a preference. It's HER hair, nit mine.
When she was three, she asked for short hair and I cut it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I let my daughter decide when she was 3. She also had very long hair and she wanted it cut up to her ears, lol! I let her cut it just above her shoulders. She looked adorable. She is now 7 and she has long hair again. She said she wants her hair down to her feet, lol! I just had it trimmed the other day and it's in the middle of her back

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answers from Los Angeles on

Let her get it cut but prepare her for it being gone. Short.

I, say, dad can have more of a say in regards to short shorts, what's a proper age for dating etc.

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answers from San Francisco on

As far as a haircut and what to wear, I let them decide right about this age - 4. If she wants it cut, let her cut it. Kids need to have control over something and it is HER hair. If you take control of her hair away from her,she will seek control other ways. Better to have a 4 year old with short hair who eats well than one with long hair who refuses to eat (because it's the only thing she can control!).

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answers from Washington DC on

I would take Dad's opinion out of it if he's not the one detangling her hair. If she wants it shorter, then cut it shorter. Short doesn't have to be up to her ears. Shoulder length is still very cute. And remind DH that hair grows.

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answers from Detroit on

my daughter has long thin blonde hair.. pretty but very fine and tangly.

hubs would like it long .. i hate the combing and crying every day and the tangles..

we keep it a bit longer than shoulder length.

long enough for a pony tail. but not crazy long.

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answers from Portland on

My daughter has been picking how she wants her hair since about that age.
Right now she has a "punk rock" hair style.
She wanted a mohawk, but hubby and I decided she had to be older for that.
So we compromised and let her have her current one.
Everyone who has seen it loves it and it never goes unnoticed, so our daughter loves it too.
She is turning 7 next month.

Also, it's just hair, it will grow back...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My daughter is 5 and some days she wants hair long like Rapunzel's and some days she wants short hair. Her hair is so thin it doesn't look very cute short so we keep it long. When she's old enough to style it herself, she'll get to decide.

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answers from Seattle on

At 4, I distinctly remember cutting MANY things (my favorite pants, the tablecloth, my hair...

... Thinking it only took a few minutes to cut, it should take about that long to grow back, right?

Similarly, a 'long time' was about a week. Christmas in July wasn't in a 'long time' it didn't even exist it was so far away.

While, sure, it's 'her' hair.... Most kids don't develop a 'sense of time' & sequencing until ages 6-7.

It will take 4 more years to get this long again. I'll lay money that she can't comprehend that AND that it will take many many many many many conversations post chop for her to stop asking for long hair, again.

Not saying you shouldn't... Just that it's going to be 2-3 years before most kids can wrap their minds around the amount of time involved in 'a long time / 6months, 1 year, 5 years, etc.'

It sounds like she doesn't HATE her hair, she just wants to look like her friend. That desire will pass AND be replaced with other 'I wanna look like / do what they're doing/ etc..

Either way, a teaching moment.

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answers from Chicago on

I think that it depends on whether what they want is a good idea. My daughter was the opposite, she wanted long hair. However, her hair is thick and wavy and it was a pain to take care of. She cried every time we brushed it. Eventually we got tired of it so we had it cut shorter. She actually LIKED it shorter!

Now, is your daughter the kind of child that wants one thing one moment and something else the other? Does she want short hair just because her friend has it and when her friend changes her hair she will want that hairstyle? Or does she not like her long hair?

Will she cry when it's cut because she didn't realize what she was asking for? Will she love it for a few days, then want her long hair back?

If I were you, I'd talk to her about it. Ask her why she want her friends' haircut. Then try to gauge whether it's the "thing of the moment" or whether she really wants short hair. Let her know that her hair will grow again, but it will take a long time. You could also show her a variety of hairstyles that are different than what she has, but still long. She's only 4. She doesn't know what she's asking! And her experience is limited.

You could also do a compromise. Hair that's down to her butt is REALLY long. Perhaps you could go with a cut that's a little longer than her shoulders? Start there. Then you can keep the long hair look, but it's shorter for her. If she still wants the bob cut, then you can go for there. It won't be so drastic that way.

I'm of the mind that yes, we can let our children decide things but only if we know that they fully understand what they are asking for and we know that they won't be upset later on.

You can't put the hair back on her head. So I'd go with a less drastic cut at first. She may even freak out in the chair with a small haircut!

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answers from Dover on

Well I am on the fence on this one and you don't say how old your daughter is (which I think may make a difference). On one hand, it is her hair and she has to be comfortable and like it. On the other hand, long hair is very pretty and you have more styling options. Typically the dad isn't the one that handles the tangled mess that goes with long hair so so what if he likes her hair long and/or with pigtails and braids. I think the person or people who have to handle the hair have final say (you and your daughter). I would at least let her get her hair cut to the middle of her back but most likely I would let her get the style she wants.

When I was young, I wanted long hair and everytime I went and would say a trim they would cut much more off than a trim. My aunt had short hair and she would tell them to cut it (I lived with her) and I hated it. So I lean towards letting the kids have their hair how they want within reason.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I truly believe permanent choices like hair length and things like this are the parents choice. Temporary things like what clothes to wear are the kids choice. I think they need to make simple choices so that when the time comes they are pro's at making good choices.

It sounds like to me that the little one is wanting to follow a fad. She will most likely hate it once it's cut.

Comb her hair out in the shower while the conditioner is in it. Then rinse it out. Towel dry it and blow dry it if you do that. It will be softer and easier to comb/brush the next day since the cuticle will just plain be smoother. If you still have problems brushing it out there is not reason to not trim it a bit.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with the compromise. Maybe halfway between her shoulders and her butt?

My dad wouldn't let us have a say in our hair until we were 13. It always had to be down to our mid-back. It was torture. The day I turned 13, I chopped my hair to chin-length... And regretted it ever since. Turns out, I really did look better with long hair. Lol

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answers from Norfolk on

If you keep it braided. long hair is a lot easier to manage.
French braid, Dutch Under braid (like corn rows), pig tails - they are all adorable on a little girl.

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answers from San Francisco on


Give dad the task of taking care of her hair for the next few weeks. He may change his tune. I like long hair too, but there CAN be a compromise that works for everyone.

I would compromise....keep in long, but not down to her bottom. Is your SO her father? If not, he doesn't get a say....unless he takes part in the care of the child's hair.

I suspect it is you who takes care of your daughter's hair, so you should have the final say. A four year old is too young to make the final final. Yes, they have an opinion and/or request, but as any child, that opinion can change in the blink of the eye.

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answers from Columbus on

I know you've gotten a lot of answers already but I just had to add my two cents: my sister's idiot husband was against my nieces cutting their hair because it was their "crowning glory" per the Bible. Well, my sister was a wimp for not standing up to him and wouldn't let them get their hair cut even though they begged! They never kept it clean, it was always in tangles, looked disgusting and they were just flat out miserable all the time because of it! But yet, he wouldn't lift a finger to help them with it even though he forbid them to cut it!! I felt horrible for them! They grew up resenting him for it (and for sooooooo many other reasons!).

I say let her get it cut since she's asking to!! If she doesn't like it, it will grow back!! But I bet she's going to love it!!!

Good luck!!!

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answers from Redding on

I ditto anyone that said "Let DAD take care of her hair"... and see what happens.
My 4 yr old granddaughter had super long hair, my DIL just had it cut to a few inches below her shoulders.
I dont like short hair on little girls either (jmo), I think they are adorable with long, crazy hair.
Meet in the middle with Dad, I bet if you went and had it trimmed up a bit EveryOne would be happy. Don't do the bob... that is yucky. Again, that is my opinion. Lots of men like women to have long hair... and they like their daughters to have long hair.
I remember when I was about 5, I spent the summer with my grandma, she cut my hair into a pixie..... MUCH to my mother's dismay.

If your daughter REALLY wants it cut because every day is a battle and not just because she has a friend with short hair, then I'd say she's old enough to know the difference. I dont think FOUR really has a real opinion-- so you can make the decision for her. Do what you think is best.

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answers from Cleveland on

It is only hair. It will grow back. Let her make the decision. It's not as if she is asking to dye or perm it where chemicals would need to be applied.

My daughter wanted to get her ears pierced this past Thanksgiving. She was 3 just about to be 4. She came home from preschool one day asking. I told her that we could go in a few since days on the weekend. I figured she would forget by then. I also told her she would have to help with an extra chore if she wanted something special. We agreed she would put her socks, underwear and pajamas away. Again, thinking she would back out not wanted to do extra chores. She was so excited for Saturday to come around. She helped with chores. She was extra good (which still amazes me, LOL) and asked everyday if it was Saturday. We went on Saturday and she was so proud. I was proud that she worked for something she wanted and she stuck to her idea. I really thought she would forget about it.

It's is amazing when they start making their own decision. Give her the ability to start figuring out what SHE wants. I figure at this age, they will still listen to some guiding advice while learning to be herself. I am hoping my daughter grows up confident in her own decisions and doesn't just do what everyone else wants.

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