Allowing My Son to Make His Own Decisions Helps to Empower Him

Here's what happens when a mom is criticized for good parenting skills

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by Keara Engle |

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One of the first things people notice about my 4-year-old son, Cayden, is his lusciously long locks of hair. While some people love it, others aren’t so ecstatic that he’s a boy with long hair. I personally don’t believe that long hair is for a specific gender, but not everyone sees it that way.

We started growing out Cayden’s hair two years ago. At first, we did it because he hated getting haircuts. I didn’t imagine that it would get this long, but it has. And Cayden loves his long hair and always tells me that he does not want to get it cut. As his mother, I respect his decision.

You may be wondering why his hair is such a big deal. It seems so silly to fuss about something like that, but people constantly tell me that I should cut it. They say it doesn’t matter if he wants it cut or not; he needs it cut because it’s too long. I don’t see what the big deal is. After all, it’s his hair, and he can wear it however he pleases.

A young boy in pajamas sits on a bed or a blanket and looks down at a game on a tablet. His brown hair is long and braided.

Cayden in one of his favorite hairstyles. Allowing him to choose how he wears his hair is one way that Keara Engle helps empower him. (Photo by Keara Engle)

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Empowering my son

Not long ago, I shared a memory on my Facebook page from when Cayden was younger and had just gotten a haircut. Lots of people were telling me to get it cut like that again. After a few comments, another Pompe disease mom (whom we consider part of our Pompe family) chimed in to say, “That’s really special [that] you give him the decision when so little of our Pompe warriors’ decisions are theirs to make when it comes to therapies, treatments, meds, etc.” And she’s exactly right!

Cayden has enough to deal with in terms of infusions, appointments, therapies, lab work, and more. These are just some of the things he has to do as a part of managing his infantile-onset Pompe disease. As an adult, I’m not even sure how his little mind and body handle it all. He isn’t always happy about doing the things he has to do — and I can’t blame him — but he does them anyway.

This is exactly why I allow him to choose whether to keep his hair long. I wouldn’t want someone to cut my hair without my permission, so why would I do that to my own child? He deals with enough as it is. I refuse to put up a fight about his hair. If he wants to keep it long, then that’s exactly what’s going to happen. If someone doesn’t like it, well, they can cut their own hair!

I don’t like to make decisions for my child that he’s fully capable of making himself. I like to give Cayden the option to pick his own outfit or tell me what toys or television show he wants to watch that day. These are just a few examples of strategies that allow him to feel in control. He rarely gets to make his own decisions, and I can see the excitement on his face when he’s able to. And that warms my heart.

I’m sure the comments about his hair won’t stop, at least not anytime soon. I’m pretty good at remaining calm and not letting them get to me. While they can be a little annoying, we’ve been hearing them for a while, so it’s really nothing new.

If one day Cayden tells me he’s ready to get his hair cut, then I’ll make it happen. However, today is not that day, and that’s completely fine with me!

Note: Pompe Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pompe Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Pompe disease.


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