HEINOUS OR HARMLESS – HAIRCUT

I came across this scenario on a message board that I frequent and was wondering what my readers would have to say about it. Personally I think this is heinous, but I don’t know what I would do to make the mother understand how much her behaviour bothered me. What do you think?

My mother, who I have always had a difficult relationship with though it’s been at least better in recent years, came over to visit this afternoon, said she was taking my 2 year old daughter grocery shopping with her, but actually took her for a haircut.

She did not ask me today if she could. She did ask me at least a dozen times over the past few months though and each time I said emphatically NO!

I hate the haircut, but that’s the least of it. I am furious with this violation of trust. I told my mother straight out I was angry, she just grinned from ear to ear and said over and over to nobody in particular how fantastic my little girl looks now. I am so filled with rage. Yes, it’s just hair. Yes, it will grow back. I know that.

I wanted to be the one to take my precious little girl for her first haircut and now that has been stolen from me. Okay, even that is not the end of the world. We will have other firsts and special times. But the bottom line is my mother has proven herself to be someone whom I simply cannot trust at all and who simply does not give a hoot about my feelings. The smug look on her face when she walked out of here today absolutely turned my stomach. I don’t know what more to say to her, or what to do. She doesn’t care. Now here it is a couple hours before Shabbat and all I can do is sit here shaking with rage and hurt. She was planning to come over and visit tomorrow. I feel like latching the door and not letting her in.

Bookmark and Share

Post Written by

45 Comments

  1. shualah elisheva says:

    absolutely heinous. absolutely. i am aghast. likely this mother has exhibited similar behavioral patterns before – and the sad thing is, my experience with such individuals says that there is almost nothing to be done except limit contact.

    adult, rational discussion is a wonderful tool, but it only works between – you guessed it – rational people.

    my heart aches for this woman. fear she has some tough emotional times ahead.

  2. Mark says:

    Heinous, *VERY* heinous. For a few reasons:

    * The parent decides for very young children (unless that parent has been declared unfit, of course).
    * The mother-daughter relationship ought to include trust.
    * This grandmother runs the risk of never being permitted to be alone with her grandchildren. Is that worth it for a stupid haircut for a 2-year old?

  3. fille says:

    Well, this grandmother just showed that she could not be left alone with her granddaughter.

    So: don’t leave her alone with granddaughter any more.

    A swiss author reports that his grandmother had him have a briss without the consent of his mother (who was jewish by descent, but not by religion). That’s even worse (although it might be considered a mitzwah)…

    • mekubal says:

      While it is a Mitzvah(see Sh”A Y”D 261, the notein kelim there on the daf and later authorities notably R’ Akiva Eiger in his Sheilut U’Teshuvot siman 42, Sadeh Hemed, kuntres hametzitzah and a number of others state that each individual Jew is liable to Karet for not circumcising the lad, assuming they have the ability to do so).

      As far as the individual morality of the issue, as well as the legality that is another matter entirely. One would need to know more of the details to know…

      Even Halakhicly speaking the grandmother should have tried to persuade the parents first… beyond that it gets rather difficult and a competent Rav(definitely more competent then me) should be consulted.

      • fille says:

        There is nothing to consult any more.

        She did it. I think it is a huge violation of trust. It happened about 40 years ago, or more.

  4. RubyV says:

    I’d say no more visits alone – ever.

    Frankly, I would have banned her from my home for a while. If she can’t respect you as a person, then she doesn’t need to visit. There are layers of heinous here.

    My mother is never allowed to be alone with my daughter – ever. She’s had zero alone time in 6 years. It may be sad but it saves my sanity.

  5. ima2seven says:

    Don’t we have to give someone the benefit of the doubt? We don’t even know these people! My guess is that the relationship has many years of fostering mistrust that led up to this, and that it wasn’t out of the blue.

    Instead of being filled with rage, Ima should just never let grandma take her daughter alone out again. Period. At least until her daughter is old enough to speak up and respect Ima.

    I am sorry to say it, but she still has the obligation to honor her mother.

    Like fille said, the mom has to create reasonable boundaries with someone who cannot be trusted. .. but do we really believe that this whole scenario has no context? Can we really be so quick as to judge all of the parties when we don’t have all of the facts?

    • mekubal says:

      I am sorry to say it, but she still has the obligation to honor her mother.

      I would say in that regard she should consult a competent posek. Because this undoubtedly happened within a context what her obligations are or are not, cannot be so easily stated on a blog comment.

  6. mekubal says:

    I say Heinous, VERY heinous. Personally I think she should consult with a competent Posek as to what should or should not be done(assuming that she is Jewish).

    Having a difficult mother myself I can sympathize. However every situation is unique and as it deals with complex halakhot of kavod av v’em really I cannot give advice beyond speaking to a posek. There are situations that for the safety of self or of your own children would alleviate one of the obligation of kavod av v’em…

  7. Ariela says:

    In this past week’s parsha we heard the 10 commandments. One of them is “Honor your parents/” There is not a commandment to be the one to take your child to get her first haircut. I understand why this women is upset. However, our parents will never change. If we want to have a good relationship with them, we have to be the ones that change. Our relationship with our parents is the model for the relationship that our parents will have with us. This is a great opportunity for this woman to teach her daughter by personal example how to be flexible and easygoing enough to have a good relationship with other people. We are always exposed to people who are difficult and whom we have to interact with (supervisors, in-laws, etc). We can either choose to be rigid and fight or flexible and interact well.
    I always ask myself what is more important “X” (in this case “X” is the legnth of my daughter’s hair) or kibud av vem (and showing my daughter that it is important to have a good relationship with relatives.
    To those who feel that the grandmother should not be left alone with the child :PLEASE. She the child’s hair cut, she did not have surgery performed on her.
    Nothing is more important to me than family, especially not the legnth of my child’s hair.

    • Mark says:

      Ariela – One of them is “Honor your parents”

      And honor your parents includes having them decide when you get your haircuts, what style, etc.

      I’ll give a better example so you can see that it isn’t as clear cut as you state.

      An almost 12-year old girl wants to have her ears pierced as a Bat Mitzvah gift. Her parents are not comfortable with the idea and have forbidden it. Her grandmother takes her out shopping, and while out has her ears pierced and buys her the cutest set of earrings as an early Bat Mitzvah gift. She also thinks that the girl will look darling in the Bat Mitzvah photos with the cute earrings.

      Heinous or harmless? The answer is clear. Now extrapolate to this more minor situation.

      • fille says:

        The difference is that the girl had a clear wish to have her ears pierced.

        So, together with the grandma, she bypassed the parents. In fact, she could have done it on her own, provided she had the necessary cash.

        In this case, we speak about a 2-year-old: I doubt she was consulted by grandma.

        That’s what I don’t like about the case.

        • Mark says:

          Yes, there are differences, but only in degree. How about if the parents had not yet forbidden it but instead were thinking about it?

          In fact, she could have done it on her own, provided she had the necessary cash.

          Huh? I have an 11-year-old girl and there is no way she could ever do such a thing on her own. How would she even get to a place that would do it? The only thing I can think of is that she could have a friend do it with a needle.

          • fille says:

            Well, how stupid is your almost-bat-mitzwah?

            You can have your ears pierced in any shopping center (jeweler or piercer)…

            Perhaps there is a special legislation in your country that it requires the parent’s consent…

            But if this was the case, the grandma could not have done it for her…

            So I do not really understand where the problem is…

            The costs are well within reach of pocket-money & uncle’s gifts…

          • HSaboMilner says:

            Well, how stupid is your almost-bat-mitzwah?

            there is no need for that type of name calling. seriously – we are having a discussion. no need to call anyone stupid. it serves no purpose and this blog is not the forum for such comments…

          • fille says:

            you misunderstand: I did not insinuate that his daughter is stupid. On the contrary: I was saying: any normally developped child at age 11-12 can do this kind of transaction. Except, perhaps, if they live in a far-off village and she never gets to any kind of urban setting (shopping center) on her own. This might be a different situation.

            PS: Your no-name calling policy seems quite recent, since you let pass something of the caliber “you are a bitch” in a comment an earlier post.

            (As a foreigner, I was quite astonished that orthodox jewish women would use this insult, since I learned it meant “prostitute”.)

          • Mark says:

            fille – Well, how stupid is your almost-bat-mitzwah?

            She’s pretty clever, but that isn’t the point here.

            You can have your ears pierced in any shopping center (jeweler or piercer)…

            But how does an 11-year-old GET to “any shopping center”? We live in a suburb that is miles away from the nearest place that pierces ears. Not to mention that she doesn’t leave the house alone, nor is she permitted to cross streets on her own yet.

          • fille says:

            Well, it’s for parents to decide what is best for their children and I suppose it depends much on where you live (safe or not so safe area).

            I personnally do not think it is healthy when children at age 11 are not able to leave home alone.

            In my country, we start out with going to school at age 6 or 7, and then gradually, we conquer bigger spaces of free circulation.

            So in my country it is perfectly normal for 11 year olds to go downtown on their own. This said, we an excellent public transport system and a good overall security.

          • Mark says:

            fille – Well, it’s for parents to decide what is best for their children and I suppose it depends much on where you live (safe or not so safe area).

            In general, we are overprotective of our children here in the USA. Partly because we tend to do things in the extreme, and partly because widespread media (coverage of horrible things happening to kids) has frightened parents nearly to death.

            I personally do not think it is healthy when children at age 11 are not able to leave home alone.

            This is generally true, however, you need to understand the suburbs here in the USA. Communities are spread far and wide with streets connecting them that would be considered highways anywhere else in the world. For example, the main street near my house has traffic lights every half mile or mile, yet the speed limit is 50 miles per hour (80 km/hour). Kid sjust can’t be permitted to walk around, heck, it’s even hazardous for adults to walk on such streets.

            In my country, we start out with going to school at age 6 or 7, and then gradually, we conquer bigger spaces of free circulation.

            When I was 10/11, I lived outside the USA and used public transportation where we lived including at least once taking my 6/7 year old sisters with me. And at the time, 6 year-olds would wear their bus-pass around their neck with a lanyard and travel the public buses to and from school each day. It’s not like that in the USA – if a parent allows a 6, 7, or even a 9 year old to take public transportation, they could be arrested or at least investigated by child services to determine if they are fit parents.

            So in my country it is perfectly normal for 11 year olds to go downtown on their own. This said, we an excellent public transport system and a good overall security.

            Every country is different. Can I ask what country you live in? It sounds great!

          • tesyaa says:

            Mark, I don’t think your picture of suburbs in the U.S. is accurate. It may reflect your suburb. It doesn’t reflect other suburbs where kids walk to stores, cross busy streets (at the crossing light, of course), and even use public transportation.

            In NYC 9 year olds take public transportation alone, so it would be odd if suburban parents could be arrested for what city parents let their kids do every day.

          • Mark says:

            Tesyaa, it may not accurate for the entire country, but it’s definitely accurate for Florida. Florida is just about the most unfriendly place for pedestrians. See this article for example -

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/13/AR2009111301829.html

            In NYC 9 year olds take public transportation alone

            Some do, however, it still is quite controversial -

            http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/23935873
            http://www.nysun.com/editorials/why-i-let-my-9-year-old-ride-subway-alone

            Also, in some states, the law specifies at exactly what age a kid is permitted to be left unsupervised -

            http://www.expertlaw.com/library/family_law/home_alone.html
            http://www.latchkey-kids.com/latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm
            http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_legal_age_when_kids_can_stay_home_alone

          • fille says:

            Oh, I always thought Florida was closest you could get to paradise…

            People over here dream of Florida.

            I have lived in several European countries: France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and in all this places the situation is more or less the way I described it.

            The only barrier to children’s autonomy is the quality of public transport. i.e. when it is really, really too complicated to get somewhere by public transport, parents might take them.

            At age 11, my friend’s children took the train to another city in another country every day to get to school.

            ..and perhaps there might be places where you would fear for the children’s security. But honestly, I am not presently aware of any in the places where I lived (well, some french suburbs are not really inviting, they are known as “zones chaudes”…

          • Mark says:

            fille – Oh, I always thought Florida was closest you could get to paradise…

            The weather is warm, but San Diego is a lot closer to paradise than South Florida is :-)

            People over here dream of Florida.

            They dream of condos on the beach, vacations, retirement, etc. Not about traffic, wide dangerous roads, always requiring a car to get anywhere, bad drivers, etc.

            I have lived in several European countries: France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and in all this places the situation is more or less the way I described it.

            I’ve spent substantial time in each of those countries (and in Italy) over the years, and I agree that it is quite different there regarding children and their ability to get around alone at a younger age.

          • mekubal says:

            File
            It is not about intelligence it is about law. In many States in the US parental consent is needed for things such as piercings and tattoos for children under a certain age.

            I don’t know specifically about the State Mark lives in, however where I grew up, if you were under 16, you were getting nothing pierced without a parent there with you.

          • fille says:

            So you imply that Mark’s daughter’s grandma lyied in order to get the girl’s ears pierced, saying she was the mother? (father would not have been very credible…)

            PS: my nick is fille with double l. It is french and means girl or daughter.

          • mekubal says:

            I imply nothing that is not explicit in my words. So when I say I don’t know specifically about the State Mark lives in that is exactly what I mean, and any further inference is of your own invention.

          • Mark says:

            fille – So you imply that Mark’s daughter’s grandma lyied in order to get the girl’s ears pierced, saying she was the mother?

            Just to correct any misconceptions, that story did NOT occur with my daughter and her grandmother. My wife and I get along quite well with my parents, my in-laws, and my grandmother.

  8. Ariela says:

    Also, what goes around comes around. People who have bad relationships with their parents, often wind up having bad relationships with their children. This is because their children follow their bad example.

    • shualah elisheva says:

      you can adhere to kavod av v’em while maintaining clear boundaries. in fact, boundaries help a health parent.adult-child relationship to flourish.

      so does trust.

      the blogger made it very clear that the haircut is not what is deeply upsetting her – it’s the violation of trust. we don’t have the full context, and i think mekubal is right in that said blogger needs to consult a rav or trained professional [depending on hashkafa] – but i don’t think that the blogger should be required to “roll over” and allow her mother to do whatever she pleases.

      resentment can also poison families. a child who sees her mother crater or constantly bend to her grandmother’s every want might equally grow up with a skewed view of the world + authority + parental relationships.

  9. Z! says:

    But it starts with a haircut and who knows where it ends up?
    What if she were a BT and her mother totally disagreed with her choice of lifestyle and decided to take the child to McDonalds instead of out shopping, like was agreed upon? The basic problem here is trust. The mother obviously doesn’t trust her daughter to be a good mother, and the daughter doesn’t need/want to be second guessed by her own mother! It undermines ones feelings of self worth and makes parenting VERY difficult.
    I think a cooling off period is in order and limited access to the granddaughter for a while is called for. The child is still young enough to not notice that her grandmother isn’t around as much, as long as she is still allowed to be partt of the child’s life. I would NEVER cut a grandchild from a grandparent’s life. It is cruel and hurtful. I would def. recommend supervised visits.

  10. Yonit says:

    I don’t think (as the writer stated) the problem was the haircut specifically, but the grandmother did something behind the mother’s back which the mother had specifically said no to on several occasions. Will she later feed the kids things they are not supposed to eat, take them to places their mother doesn’t want them to go, help them subvert the mother’s authority and right to determine what is right and appropriate for her children?

    Personally I give permission to both sets of grandparents to do/give things that are usually nos, like extra sweets, soda, videos (at my discretion). It brings them joy, helps kibud av v’aim, the kids like it, but at the end of the day I have some control of the situation. I’ve been given the opportunity to bend, they don’t sneak and do something I’ve vetoed. If they did I would feel violated, both in our trust and in their using my children as tools in a power struggle.

  11. shorty says:

    we obviously don’t have the full story, but based only on what is said here –

    bubbie asked a few times for the hair cut, did Ima explain why the answer was no to bubbie? If she only said no, Bubbie was very likely to take things into her own hands.

    I feel for Ima, i too have a very difficult relationship with my parents, and to be quite honest, i do not trust them enough to leave them alone with my child (G-d willing, one day).

    Now that this has happened, bubbie rights have been revoked.

    ok back to Kibbud Av V’Em. Its says Kibbud, it doesn’t sa you have to like or love your parents. You only have to ensure their needs are taken care of, not sit in their chair…etc. It doesn’t say, it includes leaving children in their care.

    And when they get mad about it, and they will, that is their problem. Seriously. Your job in kibbud, is not to argue back (tough to do), but that’s basically it.

  12. Mike S. says:

    Heinous, but mistitled. The issue has nothing to do with cutting of hair, and everything to do with honesty and sneaking.

    That Grandma’s behavior was poor, however, doesn’t mean that mom was right to refuse permission for the haircut. That depends, in my view, on whether the motive was because that was what she thought best for her daughter, or because she wanted to deny her mother the pleasure. If the latter, it seems a clear violation of kibud av v’eim. My guess, from the intro, is that there is enough heinous behavior to go around here.

  13. lady lock and load says:

    I am wondering if this is a first grandchild, are there other siblings who have children and grandma treats them the same way?
    Obviously there are many details we don’t know and although the daughter had a bad relationship with her mother it has improved recently. I think she should try writing a letter to her mother how she feels, maybe the mother will apologize. If not, she should communicate to her mother that her actions have made her lose trust. which is a sad thing, I would want my daughters to trust me with their children :( and I would not take them for haircuts, manicures, or anything without permission as it is their child, NOT MINE.

  14. Hadassah,

    I just used this post as a springboard for a short post of mine on DovBear. (Speaking of which – I’ve missed seeing your posts on DB lately.)

  15. Ashleyroz says:

    lol, she’s probably avoiding the excessive trolling that goes on that blog.

  16. Dave says:

    Heinous.

    The grandmother cannot have unsupervised access to the daughter — she cannot be trusted.

  17. Hadass Eviatar says:

    I would latch the door and not let her in!

  18. Hadassah says:

    My daughter had a pre-school teacher who gave her a haircut without asking me. I complained and it still happened a second time! It really shouldn’t be anybody’s choice but the parents’ whether a two year old gets a haircut.

  19. Mark says:

    This conversation reminded me of something.

    When we were kids in Israel (70′s) my sisters were given a set of vaccine shots in school with no apparent consent from parents!

    • Rabbi's Wife says:

      this is soooo Israeli. Of course your parents would want you to have whatever the Min. of Health said they should have!
      Even today you would not believe how difficult it is to disregard the MOH recommendations, for any reason.

      • fille says:

        Honestly, as far as vaccines are concerned, I would not even ask the parents.

        I think it is negligence not vaccine children against tetanos, poliomyelitis, pertussis, diphteria, etc.

        Ok, I would not make a fuss out of measels, etc, because in most cases it leaves no permanent damage.

        • Mark says:

          I also think universal vaccination is a good thing, and I think barring any good reason, all kids should be vaccinated. HOWEVER, there are sometimes very good reasons not to vaccinate, and the primary care physician would know those reasons, the school nurse or the Ministry of Health nurse wouldn’t.

          So, I have little problem with vaccinating at school (heck, it would save the parents a doctors visit and the associated fee*), providing some notice is given and if someone shouldn’t get vaccinated for one of those rare reasons, they should have to provide a note from their primary care physician.

          * Every time we take our kids for vaccinations, flu shots, etc, it costs $100, the $20 copay times 5 kids!

          • fille says:

            In fact, we got it at school, with advance notice.

            We also had a doctor’s visit every year, also with advance notice.

  20. jean says:

    When I was 2 and my mom was in hospital having my brother, I was left during the day in an aunt’s care — and she took me for a haircut! Decades later and aunt long gone (z”l), I bet my mom is still pissed! lol…

Leave A Reply