You can either be a dad that braids hair or one that does not

You can either be a dad who braids hair. Or you can be a dad who doesn’t braid hair. While I’m sure there’s plenty of grey area in between those two spectrums for many fathers, that’s not how I look at parenting.

See, in my eyes — and in my heart — you can either braid (love without boundaries) or not braid (love with boundaries. And men, I’d rather braid my daughter’s hair, paint her nails, brush her dolly’s hair or learn the new Taylor Swift song with her than not do any of that. As the great poet Steven Tyler once said, “I don’t want to miss a thing.”

Now, if you’re a father of a son, don’t click on. Stay. The same goes for you.

The point of this piece is to note that what matters to me, and you and us as fathers, really doesn’t matter on the day-to-day level. Sure, we’re thinking big picture and hoping to direct our children to greatness and success, but to them — especially at a young age — that shit doesn’t matter. What matters is Barbies and books and ice cream — or whatever your kid is into.

And, what your kid is into will absolutely change over time. For me, unfortunately, Barbies and princess dresses will soon become makeup, boys and whatever else those teenage females do with their time. Scared shitless, I am, for those moments in time. But you better believe I’ll be there, engaged in whatever it is she’s doing.

Despite my attempts, as you read through what I share on this website, you might picture me shouting from a soapbox ‘talking down’ to all of you terrible and neglectful parents. That’s not my goal here. My goal is to share with you some of the items I think about while going about helping raise my daughter. And the most important decision I ever made was to be a dad that braids hair.

Are there times when I’d rather be doing something else? Of course. Am I guilty of peaking at the thousands of emails I get on a daily basis mid-Princess Barbie playtime? Yes. I, sirs, am not a perfect father. But damnit, I’m trying like hell.

So, fathers, braid your daughter’s hair. Build your son’s block castle. Hell, braid your son’s hair and put in a patio with your daughter. I don’t care. Just be there, unconditionally, and put away your big-picture goals. Leave those to yourself and just enjoy the moment. Or you might miss something and that would make Steven Tyler very upset.

Ben Larsen

Written by: Ben Larsen

Ben is one of the founders here at First Time Father Project. Follow Ben's trial-by-fire parenting here with columns, essays and more. Learn more about him here.

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