My husband gave our kid his first haircut! I’m irate!

This question was posted recently on Mamapedia:

Mamapedia follower writes:  I went out today to get a hair cut and was gone about 1.5hr and when I got back my husband had given the baby his FIRST haircut. Obviously he didn’t ask me cause I would have said no. Not only is a lot of his sweet baby hair gone it’s all butchered(think dumb and dumber haircut) as he said he wouldn’t stay still. No sh** he is 12m old. I was irate. I asked him what he was thinking and he said he really wasn’t. Even my 8yr old told him not to do it or else mom will be mad. I would have taken him to get his hair trimmed at the barber shop, not some ugly homemade haircut. I am more mad(livid!) that he didn’t even talk to me first. I would never take the kids for a drastic hair change without talking to him first. Would you be mad too or do you think I am over reacting?

Answer:

Even dumb and dumber babies are smart enough to pick up on parents' tension. And they care more about that than their own hair.

Even dumb and dumber babies are smart enough to pick up on parents’ tension. And they care more about that than their own hair.

Dear Mother of Baby Jim Carrey,

I am cringing for you.  Honest.  One time a 20-year old barber (in training?) butchered my son’s hair the week before family pictures, and I too found myself taking to Facebook to vent.  That being said, I have a few thoughts that may help you to grieve the loss of your son’s locks without filing divorce papers.

1) Separate the angst associated with accepting that those beautiful curls are gone from the fury you feel for your husband.  It’s time to radically accept that current science will not allow you to fashion a DeLorian out of your husband’s cherished Charger (Insert passive-aggressive. “Oops!  I didn’t KNOW you cared so much about you car; Much like you didn’t KNOW I cared so much about our son’s hair!) to take you back in time to pre-haircut.  It’s not going to happen.  Cry. Scream into a pillow. Take solace in a book and Hagen-Daz. Scrape tiny wisps from the inside of the trash can, curl up into the fetal position, and pet your tiny hairball while repeatedly purring “my precious.”  Whatever it takes. No one’s judging.

2) Radically accept, also, that your husband does not automatically value the same things you value.  Your husband (like my husband and many husbands) cares not about the state of your child’s hair;  He does not consider the impromptu cut to be a sentimental/meaningful experience of which to maliciously deprive his wife.  (Unless, I suppose, you have already made it clear that first haircuts are important, and he is behaving passive-aggressively . See # 3.)   My husband  would also think nothing of using my dissertation as a beer coaster or missing first-day-of-school drop-off unless I blasted him with a foghorn expressly explained that these things are important to me. Additionally, there are many things that matter to my husband (and your husband) that would NEVER hit my radar (or yours) in a million years.  Who knew that failure to sit through a Penn State football game could make some men feel alone and not considered?

3)  Are deeper issues at play?  Are you feeling ignored, overlooked, or not considered by your husband for other reasons?  Is there a pattern of your husband making decisions without consulting you? This scenario may be especially raw if your husband has a habit of telling you at 3:00 on a Friday that his mother is coming for the weekend or if he once “surprised” you with all new stainless steel kitchen appliances even though you loved the black ones.  Importantly, if you feel generally not considered, perhaps the thing that irked you the most was your husband’s defensive stance as opposed to a more empathic response (weeping along-side you, tenderly rubbing your back as you mourned the hair your son once had?). Or, to don my psychologist-hat for a second, could you be especially sensitive to the pain of  having your needs/feelings overlooked due to past relationships or your up-bringing?  Or are you, because of past experiences, especially sensitive not having control; Do you equate submission and acquiescence to love and respect (a phenomenon familiar to many adults with overly chaotic or overly rigid pasts.)?? (Now, to equally pick-apart your husband’s potential deeper issues: Is your husband generally feeling a lack of respect and autonomy?  Does he feel emasculated and overly-controlled in your dynamic, and is therefore acting-out in a passive-aggressive way to gain back more of his control?  I say this, in part, because your 8 year old commented “mom will be mad.”  It is much more likely that an 8 year old simply has picked up on the hierarchy of the family (mom calls the shots, dad asks for permission) rather than an 8 year old is sensitive to the sentimentality of baby’s first haircut.  Or perhaps your husband’s tendency to make unilateral and impulsive decisions has nothing to do with you at all- Maybe he legitimately struggles with impulsivity and delaying gratification (adhd?), or maybe he is overcompensating for feelings of powerless instilled in his childhood or in his past relationships? All things to consider. (Imago therapy would help if you think there are deeper issues at play.)

4) Be constructive moving forward.  Your hair-hacker of a husband probably gets the picture, loud and clear by now:  “No lobbing-off Jimmy’s hair ever ever again!”  But what else could you directly communicate to your husband?  What other aspects of parenting do you want to be sure to be a part-of?  What else are you sentimental about that he may not know is important to you? If he’s the type of man that makes sweeping, unilateral decisions in the name of “helping,” now is the time to explain that dynamic does not work for you.  But be specific.  Do you want him to make sure to consult with you about weekend plans?, what kind of mini-van to purchase?, whether he takes on a basement remodeling project?  ? And HOW do you want him to consult with you?  Would a text suffice?  Direct requests should be specific and realistic. Also, might it be helpful to address any underlying processes at play (you tend to feel ignored; He tends to feel powerless?) Of course, as mentioned, couples therapy can help you get to the bottom of important dynamics that fuel behaviors. If you are courageously willing to address these topics at home, this video may help you out.

Finally, Mother of Baby Jim Carrey, I leave you a personal anecdote.  One time, in the spirit of trying to surprise my husband with a nice gesture, I cleaned out his dresser full of photocopied guitar songs that he hadn’t TOUCHED in SEVEN YEARS.  And, because (unbeknownst to me), he actually did have an attachment to those DUSTY papers, he was just as irate as you.  He did forgive me, when he realized I was legitimately trying to help him out, and was just as distraught as he was that I had thrown away something important to him. On my part, there was a lot of cringing, apologizing, and scrambling to try to recover the songs on the internet.  Moral of the story?  We all care about different things, and over-communicating and not making assumptions are all fine and dandy goals, but at the end of the day, sometimes empathy and giving each other the benefit of the doubt goes a long way.

So, Mother of Baby Jim Carrey, I hope that gives you some points to consider when trying to accept this situation and move-on without resentment.  Best of luck, as you count down the days until Jimmy’s curls grow back.

***************

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