Tangled Tresses: How to Handle Your Daughter’s Messy Mane


I will never understand how Rapunzel’s hair was always so easy to brush. It was 70 feet long and always smooth and luxurious. Have you seen how easily the brush glides through all 70 feet? Why didn’t Rapunzel’s mother have to suffer through the agonizing childhood years of trying to get her daughter to take care of her own hair so she didn’t look like she lived in the jungle? 

My youngest daughter’s hair is 8 inches long and impossible. This sweet girl could have just washed her hair and as it dries, instead of looking clean and flowing, she looks like she’s  just come out of a wind tunnel full of leaves. And even if it is smooth for the first few minutes, the minute she does a cartwheel it knots up beyond belief. 

I don’t expect my kids to leave the house perfectly coiffed on any given day. I just ask that they brush it enough so that a family of sparrows doesn’t see it as a nice spot for a forever home. Yet you’d think I was asking them to get tested for strep throat or the flu. They do not like those swabs.

We have tried detangling sprays with little success. We have tried all kinds of brushes: a Wet Brush, a paddle Wet Brush, a round brush, a detangling comb, a Natural Rainbow Bamboo Paddle with Colorful Nylon Pins, Good Massage and Anti-Static Detangling Hair Brush. Nothing has worked to smooth out my darling’s hair without causing arguments, tears, and screams.  

But because I need her hair to look nice on at least a few occasions, and because she might be too young to rock dreadlocks, I’ve devised a plan to tame her mane. Maybe you will find these steps helpful. Or at least relate.

How to get your daughter’s hair to look presentable:

  1. Tell her to brush it.
  2. Have her come back saying it’s brushed, only for you to point out the huge nest in the back that she missed. And all of the knotted underneath sections.
  3. Realize she’s using a soft round brush that will never get through anything and insist she use the regular brush.
  4. Spray it with detangler and let it sit for one minute.
  5. Let her try to brush it again. Ignore the fact that she’s using the round brush again.
  6. Ignore her whining about how it hurts when she brushes those parts.
  7. Wait patiently as she throws the round brush and storms away, hopefully to get the better brush.
  8. When she does not get another brush, calmly and pleasantly threaten to cut her hair up to her eyes.
  9. Accept her choice when she returns with her hair in a ponytail. 
  10. Ignore that the rats’ nest is still prominent on the back of her head.
  11. Send her to school anyway.
  12. Corner her at bedtime and brush it yourself, pausing every few seconds for her to pull away and scream as if you’ve just sawed her arm off.
  13. Hope the neighbors don’t call Family Services.
  14. Cry as you realize the nest will be there again in the morning.
  15. Repeat daily.

I know there will be a day that I miss my sweet child’s unkempt and slightly feral look. I will lament the fact that we don’t get time to sit together while I brush through the syrup-covered strands of hair matted to her head. I remind myself of that often. But that time is not now, y’all; now I’m headed out to buy a good set of clippers. 


  1. This is my daughter! And this is me! Every single step you described is how it plays out in our house. She conditions it in the shower, brushes it smooth and pretty before getting out of the shower, turns off the water and tangles pop out of NOWHERE! I’ve never seen hair do that. I’d be glad not to be alone except I hate that anyone else has to suffer each and every day like we do.

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