Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world, and the things kids want often don't make it much easier.
On the popular subreddit "Am I The A**hole?" a concerned father told the story of shaving his daughter's head to try and figure out whether he was in the wrong for doing what she asked him.
He titled the story "AITA for shaving my daughter's head bald when she wanted to?"
"Last year, my daughter (13F at the time) asked me if she could get her head shaved. She was going to go to the local salon and have them do it."
"This was a surprise to me, she is otherwise very girly and even when she was younger she was very invested in how she looks. I asked why she suddenly wanted to shave her head and she said that a girl she follows on Instagram did it for charity and she thought she looked good and wanted to try it. I tried to explain to her that the other kids might make fun of her and that at her age even a boy would have a rough time being bald at school. She wasn't phased and still wanted it done."
"At that point I thought that at least it would grow back if she ended up not liking it. It's not as if she's doing something permanent like a tattoo, it might take a few months but it won't matter in a few years. I told her that it's not worth paying for at the salon and agreed to shave it myself in the bathroom. I used my beard trimmer to get her down to the stubble, and then, at her request, used one of those disposable BIC razors to shave her completely smooth."
"At first, she seemed happy with it. But just a few hours later I overhear her in her room FaceTiming one of her friends, she was clearly upset. After I hear her hang-up I went into her room to ask her what was wrong. She said that she regretted what she had just done. She said that she felt ugly and that she felt like it would take forever to grow back. I told her that I did warn her against it, and she agreed it was her fault."
"I still did feel sorry for her, so I offered to buy her a wig, she found one on Amazon and I ordered it for her. Problem was, this was a Saturday and it wasn't going to arrive until Tuesday, meaning she would have to go to school for two days unable to hide that she was bald. I reassured her that she still looked beautiful and that in a few weeks nobody would care anymore. She was still nervous and upset, like any woman or girl would be in that situation, but the next morning she was feeling a lot better than I expected her to be."
"That evening, my ex-wife, who has custody of her and my son (9M) mon-fri came was coming to pick them up. I called her in advance to explain the situation to her and she was furious. She called me a moron and said I shouldn't have let a 13 year old girl make a drastic decision she could so easily regret. I maintained that at 13 kids should start to have a bit more freedom when it comes to their appearance and that it would be a good lesson about how she should think harder about decisions that cannot be immediately reversed."
"This was almost a year ago, my daughter's hair is now at a normal length, her friends were supportive of her throughout the whole thing and the situation never led to any major conflict beyond my ex being pissed off at me for a few weeks. Looking back on it, I'm not sure what I should have done. Thoughts?"
Many felt making such mistakes was part of growing up.
"Firmly NAH, to you and your kid. I won't speak the wife but honestly, this is a part of growing up and making decisions. They don't always end happily which is what we always wanna read right? That's not the case. I'm sorry your daughter has awful classmates who mocked her* but *glad she has solid friends who helped her."
"But I agree, it's time she more say in these regards. It's a crappy ass first one and it'll stick with her but keep supporting her. You and she will be okay. She will be! This is a great time to have serious talks in decision making and estimate real desire versus an exciting concept." -minaxue
Others had been in similar situations themselves.
"Def NTA, when I was about that age (I'm 36m) I wanted half my head shaved for some reason, down the middle, like two face in Batman (although that wasn't the reason, I didn't like that character) anyway my parents were like yeah ok, you're gonna regret it, the barber told me that when I changed my mind he'd do the other half for free."
"I immediately regretted it, I think I had it for a day before I went back and got the other half shaved off, lesson learned, luckily it was during summer vacation and I didn't have to got to school looking like that but I realized that just because something looks good IN my head doesn't mean it will look good ON my head, to this day I still don't have any tattoos or piercings and I've never dyed my hair." -MackeyCorp
Then again, some people never regret their dramatic hair styles.
"Oh man, opposite for me! I wanted a mohawk in 7th grade after pulling my hair to the sides in a mirror, and I never regretted it. My dad shaved it for me, and I LOVED it. I went back and forth having mohawks for years. (22F btw) I've also been dying my hair since I was in 4th grade or so. Almost always colors like green, red, blue, pink, rainbow, etc."
"I got my lip piercings at 14, love em still. Have tattoos, love em all! Honestly I was bullied already, might as well look cool while getting harassed. But that's just me! If you ever feel adventurous, I recommend getting some lowlights, because if you don't like it, box dye is easy to cover it up, or you can trim it off easy peasy!" -Dezzy-Bucket
For many people, our hair is part of our identity.
"I just had to shave my head because I am going through chemo and all my hair was falling out. It is an adjustment and I, an adult female, was sobbing through it. But! I do feel like a bad b*tch! NTA to the dad, but I do understand why the daughter was shocked and upset by her appearance after - it is alarming to walk by mirrors and not recognize yourself. But a great learning for the future." -rocco_dog
Who knows? The daughter may have ended up liking her new hair!
"When I was your daughter's age, I wanted to cut my hair short (not bald but just barely) and...I was happy with it. One of current my best friends (who I met years later. This wasn't a thing we did together) did the full bald thing and same thing, totally happy with it. Now we both have long hair but if I didn't hate the growing back period I'd totally do it again."
"Just saying, you were right to let her try. It's not impossible that a young girl would want short hair. And most importantly, I think knowing you have bodily autonomy > dealing with short hair for a little while. She'd have been livid if you told her she was too young to make innocuous decisions about her own body and that'd be reasonable." -Ridyi
At the end of the day, and even more important lesson may have been learned.
"I'm reading this post and thinking, your daughter learnt that she can make mistakes and still receive support from her family (and friends). That's amazing to learn while young, I imagine. [for security and self-esteem]" -almostambidextrous
Sometimes parents can't stop what their kids want.
"Your daughter said she was going to get it done either way. And I believe her. At 7 my daughter really wanted the half head shave that was going around. I kept saying no because I knew she wouldn't like it. Eventually she got some scissors and cut one side of her hair. So I gave in. And shaved the half for her."
"She didn't like it, of course. It's been over a year now and you can't tell it ever happened, and now she knows she wants her hair long. Sometimes letting kids experiment (safely) helps them." -MrHobbes
At least father and daughter made a memory together!
"It's important for kids to make mistakes when the stakes are low, so they can develop an understanding of consequences and risk vs reward. This is a great example of how executive function takes time to develop. Kids lack impulse control, so letting them give in to those impulses now & then when the consequences are temporary is good parenting."
"Plus, this will always be a wild memory that Dad and daughter share. It's what's on the inside that counts, & bonding experiences are on the inside. It's only speculation, but the kid's mom might be a smidge envious that she was on the outside looking in on this one." -eatencrow
It seems most people agree this father was right to listen to his daughter...for something as inconsequential as hair, at least!