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Mom Called Out For Helping Daughter’s Depressed Friend Detangle Hair Rather Than Get It Cut

teen girl combing tangles out of hair
Elva Etienne/Getty Images

“It takes a village” is a saying a lot of people in the United States have associated with Hillary Rodham Clinton after she used it as the title of one of her books.

The full saying is “it takes a whole village to raise a child.” It speaks to community responsibility for the next generation.

But if a friend of one’s own child asks for help, should a parent offer support or tell the child to seek help only from their own parent(s)?

A mother who helped her daughter’s friend is wondering now if she did something wrong after ghe girl’s father’s girlfriend berated her for it.

So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

NiorNightingale asked:

“AITA for brushing my daughter’s friend’s extremely matted hair out so she could avoid a drastic cut?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My daughter has a friend, [call her] A (13, female), who has been going through some health issues that I don’t want to put here. A’s mum passed away when she was little so it’s just her and her dad.”

“Since he has started dating his girlfriend (we’ll call her C), A’s needs have been pushed to the side a little and he’s just not noticed that A has been struggling. She’s doing better now after getting the help she needed.”

“However, A’s hair has been extremely matted as it had not been brushed for months. A had been hiding her hair under hats and hoods at home and trying to disguise it at school in buns.”

“She stayed over at our house on the weekend and I only found out about her hair when they came downstairs after getting a comb stuck in A’s hair trying to fix it. I comforted A as she was ashamed about her hair, but she had hoped that she and my daughter could fix it.”

“My daughter convinced her to tell me about it as she had been scared to say anything to anyone as she thought she would be judged as her dad’s girlfriend has made comments about her appearance when she was going through her health issues.”

“When A was going through her issues, I made it clear to her and my daughter that our home is a judgement free zone and if she ever wanted to come to me or my husband for help then she would get it.”

“A then asked for help detangling her hair.”

“So that’s what I did.”

“We put on some films and worked on detangling A’s hair. It took hours, but it was doable.”

“When A went home on Sunday, her hair was completely detangled and neatly braided into two dutch braids. She was happy and thanked me for helping with her hair.”

“Then Monday I got an angry phone call from C because she was meant to be taking A to get her hair cut due to how matted her hair was. Apparently C and A’s dad had noticed how bad it was and C told me that she would have gotten it sorted.”

“C is mad because the salon they were going to had charged her a cancellation fee for cancelling the day of the appointment. C wants me to pay her back for the cancellation fee as it’s my fault for fixing A’s hair when they were going to get it cut.”

“I told her that I wouldn’t be paying it, I just did the right thing by A instead of going to the extreme option straight away.”

“C then said that A was no longer allowed to be friends with my daughter and they would sue me for the cancellation fee. It was £60 (half the cost of the cut).”

“My daughter told me that A knew about C wanting to cut her hair and A didn’t want the hair cut which is why she went to my daughter for help.”

“A like my own daughters has long hair, so cutting the matted hair out would have meant her losing well over half of the length of her hair.”

“AITA for brushing out A’s hair so she avoided getting a drastic cut?”

The OP added:

“I would just like to clarify a couple things.”

“While I am not going to go fully into A’s health issues, the matted hair is the result of a depressive episode. Once things got better, she was just very embarrassed by the state her hair was in but didn’t know how to fix it.”

“So she hid it and it got worse. She is able to brush and wash her hair when she’s OK.”

“A isn’t being neglected by her dad. He knows he hasn’t been the best dad to A and is trying to be better when it comes to her.”

“Since A’s health issues, he has been seeking help. I’m not going to report a man who I can see is trying to get better as a parent.”

The OP summed up their predicament.

“I brushed out my daughter’s friend’s matted hair after she came to me and told me about it. She came to my daughter and I as she wanted to avoid getting her hair cut.”

“Now her dad’s girlfriend wants me to pay for the cancellation fee for cancelling the hair cutting appointment but I refused.”

“I didn’t consider that her dad and his girlfriend might have had an appointment to get her hair sorted. I’m refusing to pay her back even though me brushing out her hair is the reason they were charged for a cancellation.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors unanimously declared the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. You did the right (and the kind) thing. I can only imagine what that poor girl must be going through, both at school and at home.”

“Kids are merciless, and you can bet she’s probably getting bullied if they noticed her hair.” ~ WolfGoddess77

“NTA, for being a kind soul to your daughter’s friend. You provided care when this girl didn’t have someone else.”

“C did not have cancel the appointment at a salon because the hair was no longer matted, she chose to.” ~ CarbonS0ul

“Exactly. She could have still gone and gotten her hair trimmed. But, then they would be out £120 instead of £60. NTA.”

“OP did the parents a favor. If anything, they owe her the other £60.” ~ Th3Flyy

“There was no need to cancel the appointment. When it was unbrushed this long, there probably  was some damage. I’m pretty sure the ends absolutely needed a little trim.

“Seems like dad’s girlfriend just felt guilty and/or embarrassed.” ~ GlitteringRainbowCat

“C is a monster. NTA. I’m not even sure paying the cancellation fee would keep C from trying to keep A from seeing you and your daughter.”

“She wants to control this girl, not take care of her. If it would help and you can afford it, maybe.”

“But she’d likely find something else to kick up a fuss about when her own neglect of this poor kid is noticed by someone else.” ~ jediping

“NTA Poor A. Clearly her dad and his girlfriend are much more interested in their own convenience than in A’s welfare.”

“It’s really sad their relationship is so bad that A didn’t even feel comfortable letting them know she wanted to try to brush it out.”

“You did do the right thing, but hopefully it doesn’t backfire and end up with A having an adult’s frustration taken out on her.”

“It seems that they aren’t above making nasty insulting comments to a vulnerable teenage girl.” ~ 1568314

“100% see it as C trying to punish and alienate A.”

“Why isn’t A’s dad the one who’s involved? In fact, why don’t you refuse to talk to C and only talk to A’s dad?” ~ fascistliberal419

The OP provided an update.

“A’s dad (I’ll call him J) came round earlier as he wanted to talk to me. A and C had gotten into a shouting match yesterday because of the cancelled appointment.”

“C had told A that she wasn’t allowed to see my daughter anymore until I paid the money I owed—this was news to J—and A told C that she was going to continue seeing her friend.”

“A also told C that she hated her and that if anyone was going to take the place of her mum it would be me because I care about A as a person not just her appearance.”

“J wanted to know what had happened with A and why I owed C money. I explained it all to J and he was horrified to learn that C was going to cut A’s hair short instead of helping her.”

“He had been under the impression that the appointment had been to get her hair detangled and wouldn’t have consented to A getting a big chop. He hadn’t realised how focused C had become on A’s appearance with her hair.”

“He told me that he wasn’t going to stop A coming around as he knows how important my family is to her. When her mum died and he fell apart, we provided the stability they both needed.”

“I told J that A is always welcomed here and she knows it, but it’s her dad that she needs. She needs him to be there for her and to support her through whatever she is going through, having her dad will mean more to her than having me there.”

“J agreed with this, and that he knows he’s not been the dad that she needs and is going to try and be better for her. He’s asked if I could recommend a family therapist who could help them, and I gave him a few names.”

“Since A started going through her issues, J has stepped up. He’s not the same dad that he was when they started but he does still have a way to go to be dad of the year.”

“Since speaking with J I’ve had angry texts from C, furious that I ‘went behind her back’ and spoke with J when she was dealing with the issue. In the string of angry texts she sent me, she said horrible things about myself, A and my daughter.”

“I’m not engaging with her anymore, she’s a walking red flag. I screenshotted them before blocking C and sent them to J’s work phone.”

“J gave me his work number when he started dating C because she had been screening and deleting messages before he saw them. She doesn’t have access to his work phone.”

“My daughter has been messaging A making sure she is ok, and she will be coming to stay at our house this weekend as she doesn’t want to be at home when C collects her stuff.”

“I’m not sure what is going on with that relationship, nor do I want to know but it does sound like J is finally putting A first.”

It seems like the best outcome for everyone but dad’s girlfriend.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.