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Loving Locks: Honoring Children's Personal Identities

by Francis Wardle
May/June 2022
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Article Link: http://exchangepress.com/article/loving-locks-honoring-childrens-personal-identities/5026518/

Recently there has been considerable attention paid to affirming the diversity of all the children we serve in our programs, with gender and race being a focus (Wardle, 2018). Skin color is an obvious component of identity, but so too is a child’s hair. And individuals from every race, ethnicity, and culture view hair and hair care as critically important. Clearly, a child’s hair is a central part of the child’s identity. Further, family rituals and practices involved in washing and caring for hair are intimate and meaningful. And, as the number of interracial families and transracial foster and adoptive families increase in our programs, there will be more parents who struggle with the care of their young children’s hair.

My Personal Journey 

I remember many enriching experiences as a young child growing up on a farm in Shropshire, England. One unique experience was helping my mother care for the hair of my three sisters. All three had long braids, and their hair was very thick and frizzy. As an older brother, I enjoyed brushing and braiding their hair—it was something I could do well, and was also a way I could help my very busy mother manage a household that included ...

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