Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Puts Foot Down on Son's Wild Hairstyle

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.

DEAR HARRIETTE: All of my friends are going to a concert in a few months. My parents won’t let me go because they don’t feel comfortable with my attending. Everyone is going, and it seems like it is going to be so much fun. I want to go, but every time I ask my parents, they shut me down immediately. Do you have any suggestions as to how I should talk to them? Should I just let it go? -- Friend 4 Friend, Portland, Oregon

DEAR FRIEND 4 FRIEND: It sounds like your parents are not going to budge. You should accept their decision. From the position of acceptance, you may be able to go back to them to learn why they are so adamantly opposed to your attending this concert. In a calm moment, tell them that you understand and respect their decision. Then ask them if they would share with you what their reasoning is. Probe to find out if something happened to them at a concert when they were young. Ask if they are worried about the terrorism that occurred recently at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Is this why they want you to avoid concerts? Do they object to the group you would be going to watch?

Try to find out what’s on their minds. This is the only way you will get a sense of whether they may ever allow you to go to a concert and where they draw the line. As angry as you may be, do not defy them. Do not sneak out and go to the concert if they have clearly forbidden you. The risk is not worth it.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)