When she was about eleven years old, my oldest daughter wanted to dye her hair black. She wanted to dye it black. What? Black? Is she going goth? Is she going emo? Or is it emu? Regardless, I knew black wasn’t going to be awesome. However, the whole color-your-hair thing didn’t really bother me because I knew it would grow out. We bought black. We colored her hair black.
It was terrible.
She needed about three more boxes because she had enough hair to cover at least three giant Barbie heads. The overall color from a distance looked black; however, the closer you got to her, like within a few hundred feet, you could see that this was more a black/brown mix, like maybe a black cat and a mouse had it out on her head.
There we were with the cat-mouse hair. Permanent.
A few years later when she was about to turn thirteen, she wanted to color it again. This time she wanted blue underneath the rest of her hair at the base of her neck. Not only did I agree, but I bought everything and did it myself on a girls trip to Dallas. Yes, yes I did. That one was much better, and way cooler.
A few tears later at fifteen she wanted a nose ring. Dad took her. Now before you throw your smartphone across the room because you can’t believe we would let her get a nose ring, here is the challenge we had to discuss:
Is this a reflection of her character or just a reflection of her personality? Does this speak of her heart or her taste? Does this affect her love for Jesus in any way? Will this matter a hill of beans when she goes to college?
When these are the questions we ask regarding things our kids may want to do (or not do) we find that answering them will lead us to a great decision. Had our daughter had a nasty, rebellious spirit about her when it came to these aesthetic wants, we would have dealt with it differently.
Asking “Will it matter in college?” is a simple way to peer into the future and decide if what your son or daughter wants to do in this moment could be detrimental, purposeful, or just neutral. I realize this can be highly subjective, but taking the time to try and look past the moment might actually bring a greater overall perspective to the situation.
If he wants to wear that same hat everywhere you go, let him. If she wants to dress up in that same dress to go to the store, let her. If she has a heart for the broken and loves the hurt but wants blue hair and those weird boots, maybe consider asking “Will this matter?” You might find, as we did, that our allowances of some things made for a free and dashing personality from a young woman who loves Christ…and us.
We also might find that our preferences could actually keep our children from being the unique people God wants them to be.