Help! I can't do my daughter's hair

Ian wonders if other fathers are just as bad as he is when it comes to his daughters' hair.

By Ian Mendes
Help! I can't do my daughter's hair

Photo by ArtisticCaptures/

I’ve been fortunate enough to be off work for the past couple of weeks, allowing me to help out on the home front.

This has been a great opportunity for me to cook dinner for the family, take the kids to their activities and give my wife a much-needed breather. I certainly don’t think of myself as a super-dad for doing these sorts of things, because a lot of men are taking a more active role inside the home.

Fathers have come a long way since we were portrayed as bumbling idiots by Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom 30 years ago. Most of us know how to use a vacuum cleaner and we don’t use an iron to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

But for all the advancements we’ve made as a group, I still think a lot of us need help when it comes to doing our daughters’ hair. I’m willing to admit I have a long way to go in this department and I have a feeling a lot of other dads are in the same boat.

When my kids show up to school, the teacher can immediately tell who got them ready. If their hair is nicely done — with a ponytail or hair clip — it’s obvious my wife has been in charge. If they stroll into school looking like the girl who climbs out of the well in The Ring, then it’s a safe bet that I was in charge of their hair for the day.

I never played with my sister’s Barbies when I was growing up, so this is my first experience dealing with a little girl’s hair. The best I can do is to brush their hair as straight as possible, using the same technique a stable hand would use to groom a horse’s mane. However, the girls usually scream in pain, claiming I’m brushing their hair too hard. Their resistance — combined with my incompetence — results in a style that makes them look like they belong in a pre-Industrial Revolution orphanage.

I once tried doing a ponytail in our oldest daughter’s hair, but gave up after I realized that a third hand was necessary to complete the task. I went on YouTube to look at videos of how to make a simple ponytail in a little girl’s hair. I told our oldest daughter that I was eager to try this out on her for this week’s blog. Her response: “Dad, why don’t you put a wig on a watermelon for practice? That’s a good way for you to learn.”

Clearly, my kids have no faith in my hairdressing skills — nor do they have the faintest idea of how much a synthetic wig would cost.


Our youngest daughter is in a ballet dance class on Mondays that requires her hair to be put into a tight bun for each session. A tight bun? I’m struggling to make a loose ponytail; I have no shot at meeting the strict guidelines of an uppity children’s dance studio.

Last week, my wife put our youngest daughter in braids and she absolutely loved it. I think my wife was just trying to taunt me with this move. “Oh, I know you can’t use a hair clip, but get a load of this!” It’s like she’s figured out a way how to split the atom and I’m still rubbing two sticks together to see if I can make a fire.

So I’m wondering: Are other fathers just as bad as I am when it comes to doing their daughter’s hair?

This article was originally published on May 17, 2012

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