The Truth About: Perfect Mothers

Last week The Tween announced that she would like to dye her hair. This came as no surprise; being a middle child, she likes to stand out. She is also an avid follower of fashion and for quite sometime now, the dip dye look has caught her eye. I knew it was only a matter of time before she would request it for herself.Call me old-fashioned, but I think my daughter has beautiful hair, just as it is – chestnut brown, long and thick with beautifully natural curls. It doesn’t need enhancing. I said not before her 16th birthday (met with guffaws by The Teenager) and her father said 14. Apparently, we are both way out of touch with reality.

Having heard from The Tween that “everyone else is allowed to dye their hair in year 7” I wanted to know if that statement was in fact true. I decided to put it out to Twitter which is fast becoming my ‘go to’ of choice. One of the responses came from @ladylibertyhen who reminded me that I was in grave danger of receiving the “everyone else’s mum is super cool, super nice and super reasonable” thrown in my face, by way of emotional blackmail.

This reminded me of a story my mother tells regularly…the one where my sister, aged around 7, boldly announces: “I hate you, you’re a horrible mummy, everyone’s mummy is nicer than you!” Harsh? Yes. But as  mothers, we are judged. All the time. Not only by society, other mothers and the old man down the street, but by our own offspring. The very people we are sacrificing pretty much everything for!

The truth is, I have realised over the years that such ‘perfect’ mothers do not exist. Only in our children’s heads and  fairy tales. In fact, not even in fairy tales! Take a look at the evidence…..

Goldilocks – Her mother was pretty absent in the whole proceedings. She allowed her young daughter to roam freely into the woods, resulting in her breaking and entering into a perfect stranger’s home.

Jack (and the beanstalk) – His mother flipped her lid when she realised that Jack, flexing his entrepreneurial muscles, had squandered their last few pennies on some magic beans. Calling him all sorts, she threw him out on his ear.

Red Riding Hood – Her mother allowed her to walk alone in the deep, dark woods, to run an errand that she herself was too lazy to do. She even had a bottle of wine with her for goodness sake!

Aladdin – His mother allowed him to go off and work for his mean old uncle who she knew nothing about. Two words: Child. Labour.

Three Little Pigs – This mother takes the prize in my opinion. Deeming her sons too big to live under her roof any longer, she turfed them out to fend for themselves, giving them one piece of advice: “keep an eye out for the wolf”. Talk about lambs pigs to the slaughter!<

Hansel and Gretel – We know very little about this pair’s actual mother but the step-mother was a right piece of work. Finding the two children an absolute nuisance, she persuaded their father to leave them in the woods to fend for themselves, hoping that someone kind would take pity and give them a good home. The less said about their father, the better!

Snow White – Again, not the birth mother but for a step-mother, she had to be the meanest of the lot! Insanely jealous, ridiculously self-obsessed and basically a psychopathic murderer (or as good as).

Is this not proof that the perfect mother, the one who panders to every whim, allows hair dying at the tender of age of 12 and bed times to be decided on by the child, doesn’t exist – not now, not 40 years ago and not even in fairy tales?So to my offspring and any other child who quite frankly, has got a pretty good thing going on, I have three words for you: Suck. It. Up. And no, you will not be dying your hair before you reach 14!

Do you ever get given the emotional blackmail to make you change your mind? What’s your child’s favourite line of persuasion? And what is an ok age for a child to dye their hair anyway?! 

And then the fun began...

37 Comments on The Truth About: Perfect Mothers

  1. Eleanor (The Bristol Parent)
    August 6, 2014 at 7:38 am (3 years ago)

    I only have my own experience to go on in the dimly remembered early teen years, and I’ve got two words for you – Sun In. We traded contraband bottles of the stuff at school when we were 13 and gradually, the whole class, regardless of ethnic background, hair length and original colour, turned into Caitlin Moran style, two-tone, orange is the new black hued nightmares. We thought we were off of Baywatch/Sweet Valley High. Our parents and teachers were horrified. I’d go down the ‘school won’t allow it’ route if you can…love your fairytale examples though – great post!

  2. Carie
    August 6, 2014 at 7:54 am (3 years ago)

    Oh I love it – I’m going to have to bookmark this to read again in ten years time when my girls hit that sort of age – although given that I’ve already had an “I just really love Daddy the best” from Kitty at age 3, perhaps sooner!

  3. Over a Cuppa
    August 6, 2014 at 8:10 am (3 years ago)

    *Ultimately I am a very cool Mum 😉 so I won’t comment! Okay I will, I have reached the age of 43 without ever dying my hair ever. Yep pass the award 😉 Bex reached 13!

    I am so with you on your daughter’s hair is gorgeous as it is and so was Bex’s! But they don’t think so, it is frustrating but so far and with a whole lot of issues thrown into the mix I learnt to go with the flow with this sort of things pays off big style in the long run.

    A second earring is a no from me, that is marked in the sand and only when the sea of the age I agreed comes in will it move! I am hoping by then she decides she doesn’t need it! So I guess I am saying is how important is it to you what age she allowed to dye her hair? As you are already a Mum of a teenager and Bex now is 15 we both know that in the grand scale of thing hair dying is pretty small scale of what we have in store!

    Though be warned once they get the hair dying bug it is hard to shake off! *Flicks natural hair

    Good luck x

    *I am joking!

    • Suzanne W
      August 6, 2014 at 8:35 am (3 years ago)

      Ha ha this is so funny! I know what your’e saying I to be honest, by the age of 13, I will probably give in. For now, she was appeased by the hair chalks (which covered my hands more than her hair!). We will revisit this next summer and yes, I will probably allow her to ‘experiment’ with something. Hopefully it will go drastically wrong and she will realise that it’s not worth it!

  4. Jess McGlynn
    August 6, 2014 at 9:47 am (3 years ago)

    I love this post, so true about the fairy tales. I am obviously not anywhere near the stage of being subjected to emotional blackmail but am something of an old hat on the hair dying front. I was the first person in my year at school to dye their hair at the ripe old age of 11, and I haven’t stopped since. Sometimes I wish I had stayed with my natural colour, and then I get the bug to change it again and off I go. Not much has changed in 16 years. I think my parents simply figured I’d do it eventually anyway and at least they had some modicum of control for the first couple of years (don’t ask about my tango orange stage…) This comment probably hasn’t helped at all! Especially since I will probably be in exactly the same battle with Meg in 6 years time! I also agree that her hair is beautiful as it is, but I know from experience that once you get something into your head, it’s hard to get out x

  5. Anonymous
    August 6, 2014 at 12:42 pm (3 years ago)

    As I mentioned, I let my girl dip dye her hair at 12, then have highlights at 13. I draw the line at a full head of colour, mainly because of the chemicals. It may seem young, but I remember being the one not allowed to get my ears pierced, not allowed to dye my hair, not allowed to see the Rocky Horror Show when all my friends did. I hope that by me being a bit more laid back, my girl won’t go & get 4 holes pierced into each ear & dye her hair every colour under the sun ‘ til it snaps off (like I did!). We shall see… Helen (@NellB14)

  6. SarahMummy
    August 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm (3 years ago)

    My kids haven’t started the emotional blackmail yet. I suspect it’s more of a girl thing. I dread the day my daughter wants to dye her beautiful hair though. I think 12 is way too young! My opinion on parenting is ‘be in the middle’. Don’t be the parent that lets a 5yo pierce their ears, a 10yo go into town without an adult or a 12yo dye their hair, but don’t be the parent who refuses to let them do anything until they’re 16. They will only resent you.
    Good luck!

  7. normaleverydaylife
    August 6, 2014 at 12:46 pm (3 years ago)

    Suck it up is one of my go to phrases. My daughter likes to dye her hair once in awhile but we didn’t let her until high school. I think it’s good to hold out as long as you can. At some point, the hair dying seems like a tame option to some of the things they could ask to do, and then you’ll probably let her! :)

  8. MummyWrites
    August 6, 2014 at 1:53 pm (3 years ago)

    Great post, love how you turned to fairy tales for your comparison. Whenever I say something they don’t like I sing ‘Motherrrrrr knows best!’ at the top of my voice (from Tangled). Just before Abi died, she was asking to dip dye her gorgeous blonde hair. I said no. Then she died and in the funeral parlour I dip dyed her hair pink, purple and blue. Just a few streaks, just so she had what she wanted. I’m not saying do it because you never know what’ll happen. Far from it. I still would have said no if she were alive. But with second daughter (tween) she too asked for dip dye so I agreed – she was 11. Instead of full dye she had 10 highlights put in. Women in the hairdressers gave me disapproving looks but a big part of me thought stuff it, does it really matter (because of Abi). The interesting thing, because I supported her totally (and was a bit too excited about being able to share girly stuff like this), she doesn’t want it done again! She quickly saw that sitting in a hairdressers for two hours on a Saturday was dullsville, and hated all the fiddling about, she’s growing them out and has sworn she’ll never do it again. You can get temporary dye sprays which wash out which might be a good solution, although I think I can safely say I don’t have to worry about my DD hassling me again. Oh, and I’m the very most worst mother in the world, apparently, so you’ve nothing to worry about :-)

    • MummyWrites
      August 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm (3 years ago)

      I want to add that as DD suffers so much with anxiety, the very fact she was asking to have her hair done was beyond anything she’d done for years, so hence why I was so agreeable… this is the girl who couldn’t even step out of the door. Does put it in perspective.

  9. Izzie Anderton
    August 6, 2014 at 6:28 pm (3 years ago)

    Good for you Suzanne for standing your ground and not allowing this to happen. My daughters have tried the emotional blackmail route with me a lot over the years and I don’t fall for any of it.
    Now that they’re both at uni, they often dye their hair. Personally, I think it’s cuter when it’s their natural shade, but now that they’re both 19, I’ve learnt to keep my thoughts to myself.
    Good luck with the tween, I have a feeling this will be one of many battles!

  10. sharon powell
    August 6, 2014 at 6:42 pm (3 years ago)

    Great post! My teen has been asking me since 11. I’ve held off this long but at age 13 1/2 I think I’m going to have to let her soon because my views are the same as what sarahmummy said. I’m only letting her have a semi permanent one though :)

  11. Afamilydayout
    August 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm (3 years ago)

    My 11 year old has gorgeous blonde hair but she asked for it to be dip dyed this week too as ‘everyone’ is getting it done. In the same way that ‘everyone’ is on Instagram …..except her. I have resisted, yet our next door neighbour (also 11) has just had her hair dip dyed pink this afternoon. I’ll see what tomorrow brings!

  12. Amanda Masters
    August 6, 2014 at 8:59 pm (3 years ago)

    I love it, Disney should scoop you up and get you to rewrite these classics!
    Hurrah for you and being resistant to the pressure to allow your daughter to follow her peers.
    I really have no leg to stand on here, I was dying my hair a whole range of colours from an early age, despite it being against school policy.

    I can’t decide if the dip dye look is good, or just looks like really lazy root management!

  13. MylifeMylove
    August 7, 2014 at 6:37 am (3 years ago)

    I love this post. My children aren’t old enough yet for me to feel the tween years yet although I do sometimes feel like they think daddy is better, more fun etc etc! Love your link to the Disney characters, very funny! X

    August 7, 2014 at 10:06 am (3 years ago)

    *Memorises fairy tale examples for future use*

    This is so true. Even though our oldest is still only six, he already has sharply honed negotiating skills and isn’t above a little emotional blackmail. I’m sure the litany of I-wants isn’t far away …

  15. Alice in London
    August 7, 2014 at 10:27 am (3 years ago)

    Find a very expensive hairdressers, say she can only have it done there and make her save her pocket money for it – it’ll be ages before she has enough and then she won’t want to do it!!

  16. 25castleson25clouds
    August 7, 2014 at 12:50 pm (3 years ago)

    I think being told no, and no being stuck to is a very important lesson for kids and one that I fear isn’t been taught as often as it may have been done in the ‘olden days’. I think the idea of sticking to the age thing is a good one. I was a teenager before I was allowed to have my ears pierced and although i wanted them down when I was younger waiting didn’t do me any harm and in fact made the whole thing even more special.

    I think the idea of letting her play with hair chalks and wash out dyes (although i always heard the horror story of it not really washing out!) until she reaches 14 and then if she is still keen then why not make it a 14th birthday present? Choose a brilliant hairdresser and make an occasion of it! Maybe take her out to lunch or have a party to show off her new hair after.

    (please note I have no kids, so this is not said from anyone with even a little understanding of being a mum!)

    • Suzanne W
      November 25, 2014 at 12:42 pm (2 years ago)

      I think you’re right, it teaches us a valuable lesson. I’m sticking to my guns!

  17. Caroline (Becoming a SAHM)
    August 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm (3 years ago)

    Fantastic post! So funny and yet so true. No perfect mother exists, we are all just doing our best, and thankfully for our children we are not like the mothers in fairy tales!! I think you’re quite right to stick to your guns, I think I was maybe 15 when I started dying my hair, and honestly it hasn’t been it’s natural colour ever since! Xx #brilliantblogposts

  18. Jenny Ripatti-Taylor
    August 7, 2014 at 8:54 pm (3 years ago)

    I love this post and way to go you for sticking to your guns. I am the same way and my kids aren’t even past three yet. There will be certain things I will stick to and I am fully prepared for the “I hate you, You aren’t as cool as the other mothers, That’s not fair, Everyone else gets to do it.” etc. phrases. I have said them all myself to my own mother who was by far stricter than I was and it never did me any harm. My friends were still my friends even though I couldn’t wear nail polish, lipstick dye my hair and wear what I wanted until 16! lol Thank you so much for linking up Share With Me #sharewithme

  19. Katie-Annie Haydock
    August 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm (3 years ago)

    My daughter is only 9 months old, but I’m sure I have all this to come.
    Loved reading this post xxx

  20. brummymummyof2
    August 8, 2014 at 6:46 am (3 years ago)

    Yay! Glad you made your decision. 14 seems reasonable! As a Mum we just try our hardest. As a teacher of teens I am fully away that when my girl hits 12? She will hate me for a good 6 years. My hub says this is not the case but I know I am in for a world of eye rolling and tutting and general doom! xxx

  21. Louise Fairweather
    August 8, 2014 at 4:02 pm (3 years ago)

    :-) Your Nan made me realise that mother’s aren’t perfect except in my head.

  22. Honest Mum
    August 10, 2014 at 8:07 pm (3 years ago)

    Sure this is imminent with my 4 year old. Love the fairy tale comparisons! You sound like you’re doing a great job lady. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

  23. Carolynne @
    August 10, 2014 at 10:29 pm (3 years ago)

    Hehe I dip dyed my daughter hair last summer in the school holidays! (pics are on Instagram) it was pink and it looked fab I thought. She was 8 at the time and had been asking for ages! It was fun and she loved it!! It faded each time I washed it and before very long it was hardly noticeable!!! I don’t think it would be easy to dye your daughters hair as it’s dark, unless you bleached it and that’s a def no no :) xx #sharewithme

  24. Heledd in Lavender
    August 10, 2014 at 11:43 pm (3 years ago)

    The thing is our kids will push us to the limit on a number of subjects and they won’t understand why we make the decisions we do. It’s the reality of parenting and we’re all just doing the best we can. I loved all your Fairy tale references – it’s all so true!

  25. amy cooper
    August 11, 2014 at 5:39 am (3 years ago)

    Love this, I would be against letting my Los dye their hair they’ll only regret it then spend years tryingf to dye over an get back to there natural colour!

  26. Spidermummy x
    November 25, 2014 at 3:20 pm (2 years ago)

    Ooohhh I am so drinking all of this in, with two girls I feel so unprepared for all this stuff!!! But the first comment made me chuckle as all the girls in my year at school did the Sun-In too, I think we would’ve been 14. I wasn’t allowed at the time, and when I saw how awful their hair all ended up I was actually pretty grateful to my Mum. But then. She let me get a perm…… nuff said. Maybe allow temporary hair colour in the school holidays?
    Spidermummy x recently posted…I’m a Mummy.. Get me out of here!!My Profile

  27. Laura Evelyn Bee
    November 25, 2014 at 4:13 pm (2 years ago)

    Completely agree with you and love your three little words.
    And your daughter has gorgeous hair!
    Laura Evelyn Bee recently posted…A Phone AmnestyMy Profile

  28. Sara (@mumturnedmom)
    November 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm (2 years ago)

    Thankfully, we haven’t reached the emotional blackmail stage yet… And I suspect it won’t be quite the same with the boys, so I have a little while yet! I was always the last to be allowed to do stuff like this when I was younger, so I suspect I will be more amenable to my daughter doing it, because I understand how frustrating it is. BUT, there will still be limits and dying hair is something I will try to discourage for as long as possible, it’s so permanent… Having accidentally dyed mine green when I was 18, I am perhaps a little over cautious. Having said that, I would rather that she asked me and I helped her do it properly than she went off to a friends house and did it herself… (I might be speaking from experience here…!). #thetruthabout
    Sara (@mumturnedmom) recently posted…The Truth About: travelling without my kidsMy Profile

  29. Brandyn Blaze
    November 25, 2014 at 5:17 pm (2 years ago)

    I am so not looking forward to that stage of parenthood! My only child is 2, so I have a little bit of time I hope!!

    I can see many issues arising, but for our household, I don’t see hair color being an issue. Growing up, I had my hair all sorts of colors…beginning at age 8!! Looking back, I’m sure my mom caught some flack for allowing a young child to dye her hair pink, but she had a motive behind it. The lesson was, if you want to look different, you have to learn to be able to handle the comments you get. Turns out I could, and I routinely put funky colors in through junior high and high school. It’s a pick your battles moment, as my mom and grandma would say!

    Kudos to you for sticking to your guns, though! Ultimately, at that age it’s the parent’s decision and kids are oh-so-good at pushing the issue!

    Thanks for sharing! #thetruthabout
    Brandyn Blaze recently posted…The Truth About Mommy BloggingMy Profile

  30. Jenna
    November 25, 2014 at 5:39 pm (2 years ago)

    Yikes, I have all this to come.

    I figure if one day, my daughter turns around and tells me I’m a horrible mum… I’m probably doing something right.


    Jenna at Tinyfootsteps xx
    Jenna recently posted…Am I a bad mum?My Profile

  31. Sam
    November 25, 2014 at 9:21 pm (2 years ago)

    Ha ha! Even now my mum is always saying how lovely my natural hair colour is when essentially I think of it as ‘mouse brown’! I think there are two different ‘perfect’ mothers (and probably none of us live up to either). There is the child’s perfect which means that you let them do whatever they want, then there is the responsible adult’s perfect which means that you always give them the right boundaries at the right time for their own good and only let them eat healthy food etc. Can’t win. :-) Thanks for linking to #thetruthabout X
    Sam recently posted…The Truth about…#5My Profile

  32. Not A Frumpy Mum
    November 25, 2014 at 11:13 pm (2 years ago)

    Haha, this is great. I’m with you, say no to dip dyeing and other such things for as long as possible. And your daughter does have gorgeous hair xx
    Not A Frumpy Mum recently posted…Mummy, I Need A Wee!My Profile


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