Yesterday I went to get my hair cut. I normally go every two weeks because it grows so fast but I haven’t been in 5 weeks. I was letting it get shaggy for a 70s party I went to on Thursday at my wife’s work. Although my hair wasn’t exactly 70s, it was surprisingly long for just 5 weeks. But I knew that I would want to get my hair cut immediately after the party. It’s one thing to be letting it go for a purpose, it’s completely different for me to let it get sloppy over another week.
My hair cutter is awesome. She is all about gender fluid hair and giving people the best cut for them. She loves to do barbering and fades and beard trims. She probably has more men and boys coming to a salon than any other stylist in the history of time. She’s very much about healing and acknowledging/working through trauma. She has had relationship troubles the entire time I have known her. She’s in a newish relationship and she’s approached the entire relationship from a very adult perspective. They’ve had talks about finances, financial planning, boundaries, how they’re planning to share household tasks, and all of that mature stuff.
But what is the most awesome about her is the conversations we have when I’m there. She’s very validating and open and we share a lot of things. We had a long talk yesterday about her mom. She had a very traumatic childhood and says that her dad is a bully. She’s 30 and she has lived on her own for awhile. But recently her apartment had rats, so she left. At the start of September, she moved in with her girlfriend. But for August, she lived with her parents. It was very trying and honestly it made her a little cranky. Yesterday she told me she did indeed leave their house at the beginning of the September.
She also told me that she had a huge fight with her mom. She was willing to accept her mom’s offer to help with the new apartment but her dad wasn’t welcome at her new apartment. Her mom immediately jumped in to defend her dad and said that she was being mean to her father. Her mom wouldn’t let her talk and just kept trying to tell her all the good things her father did for her.
She tried to explain to her mom that she was working within boundaries that are healthy for her. And her mom, upset that boundaries were being defined said “I don’t have any boundaries. I don’t even know what a boundary would be. I don’t want to do anything to keep people away from me.”
The thing that it seems hard for some people to learn is that boundaries are healthy. I was brought up in a world with some boundaries, but only the ones handed to me by my parents. I did not get to define those boundaries as an older child or teen. Recognizing that I also have that power over my own kids, I have tried hard to give them healthy boundaries such as the ability to find their own space to be alone when they get sad or angry, privacy when they’re bathing, changing, or using the bathroom, the ability to tell their siblings to leave their space whenever they choose, and the ability to determine who can hug and kiss them. No hugs are forced, even for relatives who don’t understand that they don’t automatically get to touch a child without that child’s permission. I have always been choosy about doctors who ask them if they are ready to be examined. And under no circumstance will I make fun of them for having a crush or starting a new relationship. That was something my parents did to me that made me very uncomfortable as a teenager, and something that made me weird about relationships for years. My number one goal has always been to be the type of parent the kids feel they can trust with just about anything.
I once heard that you can be right or you can be happy. It seems like so many older parents want to be right. Authoritarian parents seem to want to be right. And believe that children are possessions that are meant to be controlled. Obviously a baby doesn’t need space and can’t really give consent to be held, but a teenager deserves their own space and ability to make some decisions for their own life. And adult children get to call all the shots. If they don’t want to have a parent in their home that makes them uncomfortable, that’s fine too. It’s not for anyone else to decide, including their parents.
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