What going to the barber unarranged has to do with emotional violence
Have you been in this situation? Your little child comes home from the visit and his hair is cut short? In the best case, it’s been cut by a professional and at least it looks good – in the worst case, the Next has dared to take on this task that is too big for her.
If you have a toxic Ex-partner, the probability is very high that this project was not discussed with you.
The uninvolved reader may think, “So what? Even a child needs a haircut once in a while, and hair grows back. Don’t you have other problems?”
So in principle, the following applies to us mothers with toxic Ex partners: The problem cauldron is always and constantly filled to the brim. Pick one and cope with the emotions!
And today I would like to talk to you about exactly this mini aspect, which, by the way, is not so “mini” at all:
About the emotional violence that is exercised with the unarranged trip to the hairdresser.
About the subtext that is communicated by it. So that you can sort out your confusion and contradictory thoughts yourself and come to clarity.
We remember: toxic narcissistic people want to keep control over their Ex partners.
They want to control and dominate. But first and foremost they are so offended by our rejection of them that they use every little opportunity to get back at us.
They may not be able to empathize, but they know and have learned how important our children are to us. That we care about how they grow up, that we want to protect them from all evil, that we wish them a carefree childhood.
We are so involved and loving when we interact with our children!
The smaller the child, the more we care and concern ourselves. And this devotion, this attention, this deep, intimate attachment triggers pathological narcissists enormously.
Now, in principle, it is okay if a father goes to the hairdresser with his child. It then becomes an indication of toxic behavior if he used to not give a damn about how the child looked and whether or not he went to the hairdresser and always left these annoying tasks to the mother.
If, after the separation, a visit to the hairdresser comes out of the blue and the child is persuaded to change its hairstyle against its actual will – if it already has this will – then the mother is entitled to ask herself where this sudden interest in a different hairstyle comes from or what it is actually intended to achieve.
In my personal case, by the way, it was not the child’s father who went to the hairdresser with the one-year-old fuzzy-headed baby, but his mother who, like an octopus, repeatedly demonstrated her possessiveness of the child that year. Who at the time took hour-long walks without a cell phone so I couldn’t reach her. A highly encroaching person who devalued and judged me wherever she could.
In any case, on a day when I entrusted the baby to her, in order to be able to do some furniture shopping – the move-out was imminent, and at that time it still looked as if this step would go well – the grandmother took our son to her hairdresser. Probably also to “pose”.
She had organized an appointment in time. Without informing me. She had probably asked the father of the child – because he would have something to say! – but he just shrugged his shoulders and “forgot” to talk to me about it.
Anyway, I was more than shocked when I received my son a few hours later. “He didn’t cry at all!” she kept repeating. “Such a good kid!” and watched me carefully for my reaction.
Most babies don’t have hair for a long time – our son was an exception from birth. Leaving aside the fact that you don’t “have” to cut a baby’s hair – in any case, it would have been up to me to do the first haircut with the child. At that time I had to organize everything myself, from shopping to taking the child to the pediatrician or any trips to the office.
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Her behavior had this subtext for me, among others:
“I just do it. Because I want to and because I think it’s right. And because I can!”
“I take the child and do with him what I want.”
“I don’t have to ask your permission – who are you?”
“I want to have another baby, too. This is mine.”
That last sentence in particular is insane on its own – but that’s exactly the feeling I had. I was constantly in competition with my Ex’s mother. It was extremely subtle, no one would have understood had I been able to phrase it that way at the time.
Anyway – you can imagine – I was in a tizzy. My Ex couldn’t understand that, was at first incomprehensible (“the hair grows again – now don’t get artificially upset!”), but then was maximally angry with me and used this incident later for verbal and written attacks.
Because one detail was particularly interesting: I knew that my Ex as a baby and toddler was a blond-haired angel, whom his mother preferred to put into a sailor’s suit than to cut off his blond curls, despite repeated confusions with a girl! And I knew that it was precisely because of this attitude that she was at odds with her own mother-in-law at the time.
So she did with me what she herself had rejected so vehemently as a young mother.
In any case, I wrote her a harsh but very clear email about what I thought of her unauthorized visit to the hairdresser.
This email was still quoted pompously and extremely spitefully years later when my Ex wanted to attack me.
When I told this story to my friends, there were two camps – the men all said “that’s not so bad, the hair will grow back!” but the women could usually understand my upset.
A single incident?
Anyway, there was peace on the hair front for several years after that (we had enough other occasions for emotional stress, after all).
I took my son to the hairdresser regularly over the years until, at the age of just under 9, he said he’d rather have longer hair and refused to have it cut short (“Just the tips, please.”).
I let him have it. I wouldn’t have dreamed of forcing him to have a short hairstyle. He loved his long hair, which by now was getting shoulder length. It didn’t always look really good, and not every barber we took him to could cut a really good boy’s long hair.
Shortly after his 10th birthday, however, he came home after the vacation walkabout, brought to the front door by his father, who watched me expectantly with a smile.
The boy’s hair was cut military short.
The child looked at me uncertainly and did not withstand my gaze.
What can I say? I was shocked. Less about how he looked – I personally found the haircut too “harsh” for the sensitive child – but I was more stressed by the thought that the child had been manipulated by his father to that effect.
Did I actually mention that my Ex also tends to have longer, fuller, curly hair and dislikes military styles?
Anyway, I could vividly imagine how he must have worked on the boy to finally have the change of heart.
Do you want to feel confident about managing child hand-offs with your toxic ex?
Now how did I react to that?
Not at all, sweetheart.
My Ex had to settle for the emotion this time, which was easy to read from my face. After all, by this time I was pretty clear in my knowledge of how to deal with such toxic actions.
I also didn’t write an email after the fact.
Since then, I don’t go to the hairdresser with the boy. If my Ex wants to take care of it, fine.
I let go there. I can’t prevent it anyway.
Choose your battles wisely, sweetheart.
Getting worked up over cut pigtails is futile, because the hair has been cut off now. And yes, they will grow back.
Nevertheless, I’d like to hold your hand here for a moment: Yes, your ambivalent feelings I can understand very well, and I find that in this context quite appropriate reaction when you feel attacked, although from the outside it looks like a trifle.
I don’t find it easy myself how best to describe this emotional abuse in words: With young children the abuse is directed against you, with older children against themselves – and thus indirectly but then again against you.
There is also another sensitive aspect that I have felt with myself, and maybe you feel the same way:
You have built up a deep relationship with another person (which you no longer have with the child’s father), and suddenly this person looks completely different. The appearance of the child after the visit to the hairdresser is suddenly strange to you.
Of course, this feeling quickly disappears. But at first there is a mixture of unpleasant surprise, perhaps even shock, and a feeling of being a stranger to your own child.
In the case of my son, the soft, rather feminine look of the 10-year-old turned into a military, tough look.
Leaving aside the fact that I hadn’t insisted that the boy keep the long hair – I just thought it was more appropriate for the sensitive child.
In any case, the child’s father had – albeit short-term – success with his action. He had ignited a disruptive fire between us at first sight by changing the child’s appearance.
Because he could, and the boy wanted to please his father.
Whenever you notice that your reaction is being focused on, that is a sure indication of who the action is for.
The only attitude that will get you anywhere here is one of acceptance and letting go when something similar happens to you. If possible, don’t react to it when the child is older. Shrugging your shoulders and cultivated disinterest in the toxic Ex are indicated, so that he loses his desire for future actions.
At the latest, when the child is 15, 16 years old and comes home with dyed green hair, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The probability that he or she has decided on this hairstyle of their own free (or rebellious) will then be very high.
Do you also have your own child hairstyle story with your toxic Ex partner?
Then comment below and share it with the other moms. Because I don’t think these are isolated cases, from what I can tell from the reports of the moms in my groups. Thank you very much
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