DEAR HARRIETTE: My 14-year-old son wants to dye his hair red and get a mohawk. I am strongly opposed to it, and I won’t let him do it. He is mad at me and will not speak to me. I don’t know what to do. Should I let him do it? -- Red Mohawk, Las Vegas
DEAR RED MOHAWK: I have what may seem like a surprise question for you: What is your trepidation around this request? I ask because possibly the safest time for someone to explore hair options and personal identification is during these young years, well before work comes into play and the child has to choose a more modest presentation. Changing hair color is one of the more temporary, noninvasive forms of self-expression for people to use today.
I would ask your son why he wants to do change his hair, and then let him go for it. You can also talk about choices and what they say about a person. Ask him what he thinks a red mohawk will say about him, his personality and his choices in life. Chances are, this is one of many choices your son will want to make as he discovers himself. Be ready to talk to him about each. Whenever you can encourage him to choose to do something that is not long-lasting, head in that direction. Just saying no can be dangerous, though, as it can prompt teens to retaliate by doing that very thing -- or something more detrimental -- out of spite.