Monday, October 20, 2008

More Than Your Daughter’s Hair

Years before I started working on fathering issues, I worked for 1.5 years in a domestic violence shelter in Omaha. It was a radical education for a guy like me, and relationship violence has been clearly on my radar ever since. So this story in today’s Star-Tribune (my local paper) caught my eye. Here are some excerpts:

[A] national program called Cut It Out, which trains stylists to recognize signs of domestic abuse. Advocates for battered women are using the training to create a new line of defense in the fight against domestic violence -- the stylists who see hundreds of women slide in and out of their chairs every year.

The training runs through a predictable list of problems that stylists should be on the lookout for -- bruises, cuts, burns -- while also highlighting that indicators of abuse may be more subtle -- an anxious tone from the client when her partner calls; concern over how her partner will react to a new hairstyle…

The Cut It Out program grew out of a statewide initiative in Alabama that was started in 2001 by founder Dianne Mooney and the Women's Fund of Greater Birmingham. Soon after, Clairol Professional, the National Cosmetology Association and Southern Living At HOME created a partnership to take the training nationwide. Since then, almost 40,000 stylists have participated in the program…

"Before this class, I never would have thought twice about it," said Stacy Hoff, a recent Empire
[Beauty Schools] graduate. "Now I can see the things to pick out in the conversation -- if he's constantly calling, your client doesn't have any friends or they can't change their hair color."

So what does this have to do with a blog for Dads & Daughters? I think our kids need to get the same training that these stylists got—and get it from us.

We need to talk to our daughters & sons about relationship violence and abuse. You’re your kids learn the signs of “power and control” in dating (and other) relationships—and how to tell the difference between that and a loving & supportive relationship.

These messages have extra oomph (IMHO) when they come from Dad or Stepdad. It’s another example of how we hold a unique position of leverage in our daughters’ lives…whether we realize it or not. So let’s use that leverage to make their lives better.