Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Absence of a No: Body Autonomy Goes Beyond the Foreskin


Many of my friends and family members agree that children's bodies should stay intact, especially their genitals, unless there is a medical issue that cannot be solved in any other way. This makes sense. After all, who should be in charge of your body, you or someone else?

I want to remind people that we ALL judge. Some of us are more vocal about our summations than others, but we all judge. It is a normal human instinct to size up your environment and gauge safety for yourself and others. It is not normal to insult. It is normal to be honest. If someone gives  information or an opinion, it is not "bashing". Bashing is calling someone names or making threats. By the way, I will be the first to admit that I am often blunt. It is not because I dislike someone, but rather because I am not one to beat around the bush.

Recently I noticed a great many of posts online as well as blog shares that discuss haircuts and children. Sometimes they are cute posts and blogs because the child asked for a haircut and style. Sometimes they are sad because a hairdresser was not professional or a parent forced a child to get the haircut and it turned combative. These posts and blogs got me thinking. Why is it that so many young children are getting haircuts?

Stop and think about it. Did the child ask for a haircut? Even if the child seems happy to sit for a haircut, was there an opportunity to say no? Did the child ask for the cut, and then say "stop"?

I do tend to be an attachment/peaceful parent. If my child asks for a haircut, then changes his mind, I stop. I do not care if the style he wants takes more than one try or sitting. It is better to honor my child's worries, anxiety, and need for safety than to push that child further into his anxiety. We have come too far with his SPD to have regression because I forced something unnecessary on him. He needs to know that he is in charge of his body. My son needs to know that I will make sure no one encroaches on that right. He needs to know that the words "no" and "stop" are valid and honored. This teaches him about his rights and the rights of others.

If a child is forced, for example by being restrained, to have a haircut it can make that child regress. I have also seen restraining go wrong and children get hurt. The only time I have the right to restrain is when a child would otherwise be harmed. For example, if a child runs toward the road I stay close by and use my words. I pick the child up only if using my words does not work.

It amazes me the lengths we will go to defend something we do. Oh, but it is hot. Oh, she hates tangles. He will not sit still. She was screaming. Oh, but he has a special need. She asked for it, but now is not so sure so we will do it anyway.

None of these reasons matters. I still have no right to cut a child's hair without permission. The absence of a no does not equal yes. I realize that this term is used in other types of discussions, but it applies to haircuts as well.

I hope that rather than feeling judged, people stop and re-assess. I do this fairly often as well. I figure that a good parent spends most of the time re-assessing anyway. Certainly no one is perfect and I have made many choices I would change if I ever have to make them again. 

Much love and peace to you all! :)

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