When is a good age to relax a child's hair? I can not tell anyone that. That course of action is entirely up to the person. But I will say this, If you are not educationally ready or prepared to care for relaxed hair, do not do it. If your daughter is not mature, is not responsible and old enough to understand what you have learned about caring for relaxed hair, don't do it. If your reasons include relaxing the hair to be a quick fix and a resolution to all, don't do it.
Just because there are relaxers marketed for young girls does not mean it is okay for them. But consider the care after the relaxer treatment. Plenty of times I have seen thinned out, severe breakage around the edges and matted hair on young beautiful girls. It is obvious that the hair was not maintained or cared for properly.
I have been on blogs, forums and facebook fan pages geared to children's hair care. On several ocassions, the questions from mothers/caregivers wanting to relax their daughter(s) hair and should they comes up. I have also received the same question a few times, although my daughter's hair is natural. The question is, Why? And I am not asking the question as to why do you want to put chemicals in her hair, obviously there is more to it. But what are your reasons behind wanting to relax your child's hair?
Here are the reasons I have seen with the question above:
* It will save me time.
* It will be easier to manage the hair.
* It will show my child's hair length.
* It looks better.
* My daughter's hair is so "nappy". (I cringe at the word nappy.)
* Styling is easier with relaxed hair.
* She cries when I style her hair.
* I don't like her hair texture.
* I don't understand why her hair is not like my family's hair.
* The children at school make fun of her hair.
* She wants to be like her friends.
* Her father complains on how the hair looks.
* I want her to be like her friends.
* My family feels that she needs it.
* She is the only/few girls that are (insert racial background here) with afro hair and her classmates have straight hair.
* My friend's daughter's hair is relaxed and it is beautiful.
* My daughter cries because she feels different from every one.
These are just a few I have seen. Just a FEW! My thing is, the reasons above will be relevant to the person and makes sense to them...maybe not to me nor to you. I know some of you are saying that some of the reasons are shallow. But to the person, the reasons may be shallow...but valid, emotional or thoughtless to some. But it is what they truly feel, because they have to deal with their own situation at hand.
If you relax your child's hair, are you ready to care for it the way it should be cared for? Did you do research to see what relaxed hair needs? Did you consider how it will affect your child's developing scalp? Are you relaxed yourself, with a beautiful head of hair and plan on taking your daughter with you to get her hair done too (extra $$ spent)? Are you going to teach her how to care for it?
Now let us briefly talk about me.
My daughter, MadiMel, as you all know, has natural hair. Am I planning to relax her? No. Has the thought crossed my mind? Yes, before I started her natural hair journey (when mine started). I had my goal set on relaxing her hair when she turned 8,9 or 10 years old. My reasons were: Her hair was coarse, it was challenging to manage, thought it would look cute. Basically, I just wanted to relax her hair and keep it moving.
Since she was a toddler, my train of thought was, How can I care for her hair now before I start relaxing it? And guess what, I learned and conquered. Since I educated myself and researched, there was and is no need for it. It completely changed my mind about doing it at 8, 9 or 10 years old. I just won't any more and you can see why.
And yes, she just turned 8 years old. I feel that she is young now and does not need it since I have done research to care for her natural hair while she was and is young. She is extremely active, sits upside down to watch a show or movie, cartwheels, flips...she is too active. If she decides to do it when she is much older and can afford it, I will share my techniques because I have been doing a decent job with my own relaxed hair. She is currently learning how to care for her natural hair and she may just stick with it into her adult years.
Things to consider when relaxing your child's hair (some reiterated):
* The child's age
* Scalp sensitivity to chemicals
* Breakage if not cared for properly
* New growth
* Knowledge is key, but will you put in the effort
Think about the things I mentioned above, before you make a big step as to relaxing your child's hair.
What other things would you say to someone who wants to relax their child's hair?
(Please be respectful within your comments below :-) )