When I began my natural journey, I was fortunate to have the support of my husband, family members, and close friends. However, my biggest cheerleader turned out to be the smallest member of our family--my almost six-year-old son, Dean.
I'd never really considered how HUGE of an impact returning to natural would have on my son. I mean, we've seen the beautiful photos of mamas and their natural mini-mes; we've read the countless posts on how meaningful a journey it's been for women who get to share the road with their daughters. But what about the sons? Did changing one's hair impact the men-in-training who'd much rather play with trucks that watch Mama's hair growth? The answer surprised, enlightened, and encouraged me far more than I could ever imagine.
Dean, my only child, changed my life for the better from day one. He and I share an amazing bond--we are both sensitive and loving, yet strong and fearless. Besides being super smart, he can make a friend wherever he goes and doesn't have a shy bone in his body. My little guy also possesses an unusual sense of self for someone so young...his perceptiveness doesn't allow him to miss much.
However, my only boy is definitely a boy's boy--he loves video games, running and playing...pretty much any "boy-oriented" activity goes right up his alley. So imagine my shock when I walked in from my BC (big chop), and he shouted, "Mom, you cut your hair!!! It looks AWESOME!!!!" Not only did he notice, he made his feelings about it crystal clear (LOL). How could I not be confident about my short curls after getting such an enthusiastic response?
As my natural hair journey has continued, Dean hasn't shied away from giving his honest opinions and solid encouragement. He loves my hair whether it's perfectly curly after a wash and go, slicked back into a puff for work, or in its big afro glory. Not only does he watch my hair's evolution with fascination, but he also insists on nothing but natural products in his own hair (Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk is his favorite).
So how do we as natural mamas foster this kind of acceptance and appreciation for natural hair in our sons? Here are a few things that I do consistently with my son:
- Speak positively about my hair, even when I'm having a "bad hair day": Children are sponges--they pick up on EVERYTHING we say and do. Focus on the versatility of your kinks and curls, and your little guy will see how "cool" natural hair truly is.
- Answer his questions: Kids are natural investigators, and they are not shy when trying to figure things out...like how Mama's afro got so big! Answering their questions honestly doesn't mean you're turning your son into a girl; you are building a net of trust with your son that will extend far beyond his understanding of how you got your hair to twist like that.
- Show him positive images of natural-haired women: Our sons AND daughters are constantly bombarded with images of girls and women with straight, long hair, but we as mothers can show our sons beautiful alternatives. Now, this doesn't mean that you have to put your boy through a "Natural Deprogramming Bootcamp", but when he says, "Mama, her hair is like yours!", reply "Yes, and she's so cute with her natural hair," or something to that effect.
It's been said that we can learn so much from children, and my son Dean has proven that for sure! His unconditional acceptance of the natural me as his first female role model bodes well for his future relationships. My son will grow up appreciating the beauty of a woman's lush, wild, and beautiful kinky curls. Even more importantly, he will value the importance of accepting himself without the stresses of trying to conform to European standards.
My boy loves my hair no matter what state it's in, but he believes that my natural curls are "the most beautiful of all". As a natural mama raising a future doctor, lawyer, singer, and President (his words), it doesn't get any better than that.