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On Why I Let My Son Paint His Nails (And You’ll Get The Hell Over It)

April 9, 2013

My son is five. He’s in kindergarden. He’s a fairly typical little boy who wants to play with cars, guns and pretend to be a Transformer.

My son has a mohawk. It’s a fabulous mohawk that he rocks with pride.

My son told me when he was three years old: “When I get stronger, I want a tattoo just like yours.”

My son has neon green, glittery nails. They were painted at his request at the local nail salon when he went with his aunt and grandmother. Sometimes they get painted at home, depending on how often he wants them done.

The first time I got his nails painted at the salon, the tech I asked to do it and several of the other ladies in the salon made it very clear that they were horrified that I would let my son get his nails painted. “He’s a boy” I remember them saying. “Are you SURE you want his nails done.”

Does it make my son less of a boy to have a fantastic neon green manicure? Does it make him less of an amazingly smart and well-behaved child to have a mohawk? Does it make me a better parent to deny him something that makes him gleefully happy because YOU don’t approve?

My son loves watching “My Little Pony.” Someone in our life tried to tell him at one point that he shouldn’t be watching a “girl” show. My amazing child looked up at me and said “Mom, I don’t care if it’s a girl show or boy show. I like it, so I’m going to watch it.”

My dream is that we all might be able to learn to be as wise as a five-year-old.

I’m never going to be a perfect parent. I may never have an immaculate house. My meals will probably never be all home made. I may never give up my right to put on cartoons for my son to watch so I can get 15 more minutes of sleep. Criticize me for any of these things and I’ll probably roll my eyes and laugh at you. Criticize my son’s nails however and we will go to war.

Hate and judgement of others are not things we are born with, we are taught to do them. I will not have you teaching my son to emulate your hate, your gender stereotypes, your judgement of others or your biased world views. I will violently defend his right to explore his world, his sexuality, his gender definition, his view of himself, his hopes, his dreams and his reality without limitations beyond what is reasonable for his age and legal for him to do. My only requirement for my son’s eventual adulthood is that he know how to be responsible, that he be a functional and contributing member to society and the world, and that he lives with great compassion. All the rest is on him and who he chooses to be. I may not end up agreeing with all of it, but I will love him none the less for it.

Until Next Time,

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  1. Oh, my Goddess! Rose, this was a wonderful post. Thank you for this. And clearly, i need to paint my fingernails from time to time!

  2. You are the awesomest mom evar! ❤

  3. I don’t know if it alerted you or not but I linked this post in my blog. If that bothers you let me know and I will take it down. You have a very powerful and well written blog here. I am happy that my friend turned me on to it.

  4. Linda permalink

    What a good mom you are, Rose. 🙂

  5. Jessica permalink

    I love this! My 2 year old boy wants me to paint his nails (pink) and I do so because it makes him happy =) It’s sad to say not a lot of people are opened minded, I get told “I’m making him gay”. Ignorance.

    Keep being a great mom =)

  6. Jackie permalink

    I found this page looking up on google:
    “I let my son paint his nails”

    I went on to the nail salon and my son wanted to come with. He liked my nails and said they where pretty and the lady asked him if he wanted her to paint one finger nail for him and he said yes! His favorite color is green so she painted both ring fingers green and even put a little gem in each one.

    I knew his dad would get mad so before we got home I told my son “if your daddy says anything mean just say: your just mad your not cute like me and my mama!” Hahaha

    WELL, Hes still shit talking to me so I sent him this blog you wrote.

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