One of the blessings and curses of childhood is experiencing so many things for the first time.
Not only will children read a chapter book, see a butterfly, and play a sport for the first time, but they’ll also go through some of their first disappointments and heartbreaks.
It’s tough to decide what to teach them and what to shelter them from at that age, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor throwaway_goldilock had a wonderful relationship with her niece, especially regarding the styling of their similar “princess” hair.
When her niece suddenly had to get a new look, the Original Poster (OP) was conflicted about what would be the best way to support her.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for not cutting my hair to match my niece?”
The OP was able to start spending more time with her brother again recently.
“My (26 Female) brother Mike (29) recently moved near me because of work.”
“We are now half an hour away from each other. We were four or five hours away most of our adult lives and usually only saw each other during Christmas at our parents’ house.”
“Mike is living with his fiancée Sara (30 Female) and her daughter from a previous relationship, Eve (6 Female). Sara works from home as a freelancer.”
She immediately connected with her niece, Eve.
“Ever since the move, I went to hang out at Mike’s a lot because I miss him. Sara and I got along OK, but Eve was attached to me from the start.”
“She said I look like one of the princess dolls she has. Thus our friendship is born.”
“One of the activities Eve and I enjoy is styling our hair. Our hair is very similar: long, blonde, fine, and super straight.”
“We enjoy braiding, curling, and ornamenting our locks, as Sara has had short hair all her life and cannot style her daughter’s hair beyond a simple ponytail.”
“Eve loved it when I put our hair in matching styles, and we often went to dinner like that. My brother and Sara thought it was adorable.”
But then something unexpected happened.
“A few days ago, an incident at school caused Eve’s hair to be damaged.”
“Sara took her to the salon, but the best they could do was cut and trim her hair to just above shoulder length.”
“Eve was crying and really upset; she said she won’t get to play hair styling and have matching hair with me anymore since her hair is short now. She said it’s not fair that I will be the only princess in the family now.”
The OP was uncomfortable with Sara’s suggestion to improve the situation.
“Sara called me and asked if I can cut my hair to match Eve’s, so she wouldn’t be sad.”
“She said it will be a nice change of pace, and our hair will grow back.”
“I told her no. A trim of an inch is one thing but shoulder length is too short for my liking.”
“Sara said I’m not being considerate as it’ll mean a lot to Eve to know her aunt matches with her.”
“Mike said it’s my hair, my decision, but my mom said it would be a nice thing to do.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some reassured her that Mike was right about it being the OP’s hair and, thus, her choice.
“NTA and Sara is being weird as f**k about this. If you were already saying to people, ‘You know, I really want to change up my hair sometime,’ I could see suggesting it, but beyond that, nah.”
“I feel awful for Eve because I went from butt-length to shoulder-length as an adult, and the year and a half it took to grow back was PAINFUL (turns out I really do prefer it ungodly long and am not ‘just used to it’).”
“And for a little kid, that’s an eon. I had more than my share of bad haircuts as a kid. But it WILL grow back. Maybe now is the time for Eve to get cool colored streaks or something so she feels better about it, though it could be fun for her.”
“For the people saying this could be a teachable moment, I agree, but not about patience or being beautiful with any type of hair. I think this could be a great time for learning that your parents cannot fix everything that goes wrong in your life, but they can be sympathetic and understanding and listen when you feel sad.”
“Time for Sara to get in there and agree that, yeah, this sucks, and she wishes it didn’t happen too. The best lesson your kid can learn is, ‘My family is there for me.'”
“No, this isn’t a huge deal tragedy… to an adult. To a six-year-old? It’s a big deal. It’s okay for her to be upset. No one needs to ‘make her feel better.’ She WILL get over it eventually, but give her time to get there.” – elvie18
“NTA.” Sara could have turned this into a learning moment. She could have gone with:
“Patience: the hair will grow back.”
“Challenging Stereotypes and Ideas of Beauty: princesses can have short hair.”
“Being Different Doesn’t Break Caring: you and Eve can still be connected despite the different hair.”
“Etc. Instead, she chose to teach Eve that people are supposed to cave to her desires.” – GreekAmericanDom
“NTA. Children need these lessons so they can become adults. Do you think every time she falls into mud that dozens of other children at school should cast themselves into the mud as well to ameliorate her sad feelings? LOL (laughing out loud), f**k no.”
“Do not coddle your children. They will reach the age of majority, and they will still be children.” – Suspicious_Truth647
“NTA. It’s your hair, and I’m not even sure how it would be nice. Your niece wants long hair to be a princess, you cutting off your long hair doesn’t make you both princesses again. Your long hair was the only thing making you a princess in this scenario.”
“Instead, you can find ways to style your niece’s new hair length and show her how awesome it can still be and that would be MUCH better.” – IntrospectOnIt
“NTA. Your body, your choices.”
“When you’re six, and things don’t go quite right, life can feel tough. You’ve got a great chance to help show her how to rise above that, instead of expecting the whole world to cater to her desires. That’s a lesson that will serve her well in life.”
“Your niece still has shoulder-length hair. You’ve still got lots of opportunities to play hair styling together. Just because you can’t be identical for a while doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun. And, perhaps most importantly for a fashion-conscious six-year-old, that just because her hair is” – Qaylar
“They’re correct. It is just hair, and Eve’s will grow back. No need for you to cut your hair just because of Eve’s random mishap.”
“Sara’s at risk of raising Eve to be super entitled and self-centered. It might be a nice thing to consider doing, but to expect it from you is presumptuous.”
“NTA.” – baka-tari
“It is a nice thing you could possibly do, but only if you actually want to. I’m so tired of people using that as a reason why you’re a bad person. There are lots of nice things people can do, and deciding not to do a few of them does not make you an a**hole, nor does it being a nice thing mean it’s mandatory.”
“‘Nice’ and ‘required’ are not synonymous.”
“Buy her a wig or something she can play around with together if you really wanna do something to cheer her up, but d**n man, she’s not your kid, not even your adopted kid, so why would people expect you to do this?”
“If anything, this is a perfect opportunity for SARA, HER MOTHER, to try and do some matching hairstyles too and be part of this. Don’t let any of them try and guilt you into feeling bad. And maybe tell her mom what I just said because, like, it’s ridiculous she’s putting this off on you like it’s your responsibility. Tell her to do some hairstyles and cheer HER child up.” – delirium_skeins
Others pointed out that really no one was at fault in this tough situation.
“NAH. Sara asked (fair game). You said no. Everyone (and I’m assuming you agree with this) agrees that it would be a nice thing to do. You don’t want to do it (also fine). Unless they are harassing you to do this then NAH.” – DancingLadybird
“Rapunzel is still a princess after her hair got cut off. Someone needs to get this little girl to watch the movie ‘Tangled.’ NAH.” – Hearwegoanon
“NAH. It’s a little ridiculous to ask but Eve is six years old. She’s really little and really sad about her hair. That said, it’s absolutely fair and appropriate to say no. It would be a nice thing to do, but not doing it doesn’t make you not nice, and I think that’s an important distinction.” – TheSqueakyNinja
“NAH. I think it’s an understandable request to make of you, Eve is probably feeling extremely self-conscious, and not being able to match with you is compounding that. It probably would mean a lot to her and help her cope with it if you decided to match with her and make her feel less weird/bad about it. It’d be an adult showing there’s nothing wrong with that hairstyle.”
“Having said that, while I do think the above makes it reasonable for her mom to ask that of you, you don’t absolutely HAVE to do it, and shouldn’t feel like you have to. It is your hair and your choice. Though, be sure to take the above into consideration next time you see Eve, she’s probably feeling very self-conscious on top of being sad you can’t match for a while, so think of the best way to approach that.”
“On re-read, I missed the line where she called you inconsiderate. That’s a bit much. I think her politely asking you to do it was totally fine, as was you saying no. Her calling you out as inconsiderate for not doing it does make me lean more toward NTA than NAH. It’d be totally fine to ask that of you, f**king weird to demand it.” – CapoExplains
“Your mom is right. It would be a nice thing to do and would make your niece’s world, as your SIL has said. But, at the end of the day, Mike is right. It is your hair and you have to live with it. You’re not an a**hole either way, and neither is anyone else.” – Inner-Nothing7779
“NAH, to be honest. It seems that little girl really bonded with you over hair and is now sad that bond won’t be as strong. Asking you to cut it to match so the bond remains would be very sweet, but hey, you still gotta live with it. I don’t think your SIL is wrong for asking if you’d want to, it’d be wrong if there were pressure, and I don’t think you’re wrong for wanting to stay the same.”
“Honestly, I think the real solution is to bond with her over other things, stuff that’s not purely about hair or skin. Those things can be damaged. How about clothes? Or if you have any other common interests?”
“You could show her being a princess is about other things than hair, sure, but it rings kinda hollow if you don’t change yours. Kids’ feelings aren’t always rational. I think she’d accept her hair in time, but gender presentation is important, even that young. Long hair could be part of hers and yours, so losing that could be really harmful to her psyche.”
“I don’t know, I wish you luck on this, but do not feel bad for not having the ‘right’ answer.” – letangier
“Eve looks up to you, she sees you as someone similar to herself, and that’s why you’ve bonded so quickly (girls tend to have dolls that look like themselves).”
“I assume some other kid cut Eve’s hair without her consent, which can be pretty traumatizing. I’m sure Eve would appreciate still matching with you.”
“That being said, if someone is pressuring you to do this, they are the AH. Bodily autonomy for the win.” – Doodlefish225
The subReddit agreed that it would be a kind gesture for the OP to make her hair match her niece’s, but it absolutely was not a requirement.
Rather, they found this to be an opportunity to teach Eve about gender roles and expectations, for the OP to explore other ways to bond with her niece, and maybe for them to explore other forms of beauty, like short hairdos or wigs.
The most important lesson for Eve to receive right now would be for the people around her to teach her that they love her, no matter the length of her hair.