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Dear Jido,

My eight-year-old daughter is due for a haircut and always wanted to keep her hair very long, which my husband and I have encouraged. That was until my mother moved in. My mother now says things to her like, "Don't you want short hair like mine?" and, "It's so much easier to take care of when it's short."

Now my daughter wants a short haircut, and my husband and I are irate. I know hair grows back, but we feel my mother has stepped out of line. Who is in the wrong, and how should we proceed?

Signed, Hairy Situation

Dear Hairy,

No one is ever wrong about how they feel – that’s how they feel. Your mother likes short hair, you prefer long. Is she stepping out of line? The Torah says – “Ask your father and he will advise; your elders and they willtell you.” The verse implies you should ask for advice. In this case, your mother came and told you her opinion before you even asked. More on that in a moment.

You have several options. At eight years of age, it is hard for your daughter to make an informed decision. But perhaps ALL of her friends can help convince her. So, Step One, tell her to ask her friends what they would think if she cut her hair short. Young girls might all agree – long is better.

Step Two, whether she has long flowing hair or a curly-kinky-afro, pull her hair into a tight bun and take a picture. Show her what she would look like if she had short hair. If she loves it because it shows off her beautiful eyes and smile, then go with it (pending the outcome of Step One).

Step Three, put a wig on her (obviously a long one), hopefully yours, or someone else’s. After you all stop laughing, ask her how she thinks she looks. She might like it.

Step Four, you must have a candid talk with your mother and tell her that while you respect and appreciate her opinion, this is your daughter, and you want to bring her up in the way you believe is best for her. You did your research and you all decided – long.

If short wins out over long, suggest to your daughter (and tell Mom) that she continue to grow her hair until her bat mitzvah, and then donate it to one of the many worthy causes that collect hair for cancer patients. Make sure not to make it as a vow, otherwise you and she are committed to making the donation and might later regret it, because by the time she turns twelve the thought to cut her hair might be the furthest thing from her mind.

The most important point is to give your mother the proper respect. As you say, if you cut your daughter’s hair short, eventually, it grows back. But if youcut your mother short, that could take even longer.

All the best,