The Columbus Dispatch

Parent questions letting teen dye hair platinum blonde

- Write to Carolyn at

Dear Carolyn: My 13-year-old wants to get her hair (well, half of her hair) dyed platinum blonde. The damage this would do to her hair, plus the upkeep, makes me hesitate to give her permission. Plus it all seems so, “Look at me!” But she’s researched it and saved her money to have a colorist do the job, so props to her for that.

Do I just let her do it? She’s also talked about getting her ears double- or triple-pierced and I wonder where to draw the line.

— Wondering

It’s her money. It’s her hair. It’s ... hair.

You’re the parent, you can still say no. But the lines you must draw for the next 5 to 8 years are only going to get more complex and consequent­ial, so now’s a good time to think about what your priority is — the power to say no because you can, want to, feel pressured to by ghosts of child rearing past? Or the wisdom to save that power for when the stakes leave you no other choice?

A desire that is heavy on body autonomy, self-expression and agency — she saved her own money! — and light on worst-case consequenc­es (bad hair), right at the crossroads of her young adulthood, is not where you want to launch a power struggle.

Piercings are invasive, so: “If you still want one in three months/a year from today/on your xteenth birthday, then, OK.” Still, changing one’s mind just means taking out jewelry.

While she’s in the colorist’s chair for hours, you can also ruminate on the lines you think you will draw, over what, where, up until what age, and, most important, why.

Hi, Carolyn! My spouse and I welcomed our first child this year. We received many wonderful gifts when the baby arrived. We live in a smaller house and are already feeling cluttered.

As the holidays are approachin­g, well-meaning family members are asking us for the baby’s “wish list.” Our child is too young to care about gifts! If we say no presents, please, we’ll end up receiving things we don’t need or have space for. Asking for a contributi­on to baby’s new savings account feels uncomforta­ble.

What’s a new parent in a small house to do?!

— Cluttered

Suggest they give their favorite book for your child’s age. You can say that to everyone who asks, every occasion, every year, and still not have an unwanted-stuff problem.

And: You can add, when it feels appropriat­e, that you’re so grateful they asked you first because you have a smaller home and very limited places to put things and, wow, though, meaningful books would be wonderful.

And: You can donate quadruplic­ates, make other children better for it, and not hurt anyone’s feelings.

And: You can ask people to include a card that explains why they chose this book, and you can save the cards in a scrapbook that also doesn’t add to your clutter because it lives on a shelf with the books, maintainin­g a connection across generation­s that will long outlast any actual gifts.

 ?? ??

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