DEAR AMY: I hope your answer will settle a disagreement my mid-50s husband is having with me and our 15-year-old son, “Bart,” regarding his choice to have long hair.
Bart is a good student, plays a sport for the high school and is well liked on the team. He has buddies who are also good kids, is liked by his teachers, participates in church activities, has a good sense of humor and is occasionally “sassy” at home (he is a teenager, after all).
While he’s not perfect, as far as teenagers go he’s an all-around good kid except, apparently, for his hair, according to my husband. Bart has hair just below his shoulders, and my husband has been on him (and me) repeatedly over the years to get his hair cut. He has now issued a deadline. When asked why, he replies, “Because it looks stupid.”
I’ve tried to probe my husband on various occasions to understand his possible true feelings on this, but to no avail. I’m tired of the tension this causes and feel that if this is the biggest point of rebellion for a 15-year-old, who cares? Viva la long locks! Your thoughts? -- Wife and Mom
DEAR MOM: As someone roughly your husband’s age, I well remember the “hair wars” of my own childhood. When your husband and I were young, having long hair signified more of a social statement about rebellion, and boys wearing their hair long were often judged harshly.
I thought the lesson those of us who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s learned was that hair can be an important identifier for a teen, and that how a teen wears his/her hair truly should not matter to anyone else, even parents.
Your husband saying your son “looks stupid” is rude and alienating. It is not your job to persuade and/or tackle your son to have his hair cut against his will.
You should discuss this with your husband privately. Find his old high school yearbook and leaf through it with him. Surely there were guys he knew who had shoulder-length hair and turned out okay (I looked up teenage photos of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and both sported long locks).
I have a feeling your husband’s attitude can be traced back to how he was treated by his father. Urge him to be respectful and to pick his battles more carefully, because even if he “wins” this one, he still loses.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have small children together and recently got a divorce because he cheated on me.
He has expressed his wish that we get back together or at least have me and our kids move in with him temporarily while I find a job where he is now living (four hours away), so he can see the kids more easily.
He has said in the past that he was leaving his girlfriend to get back together with me, but then he ran back to her. He says he has changed. I’m not sure if I should take the chance and move four hours away from my family to be with him. What do you think? -- Seriously Confused
DEAR CONFUSED: Given your ex-husband’s pattern, it is not a good idea for you to uproot yourself and your children to determine whether he has changed.
If he wants to be closer to his children and renew his commitment to you, he should look for a job closer to where you live and follow through, to prove the sincerity of his intentions.
DEAR AMY: Regarding the letter from “Not Appreciated,” who was upset because a frequent dinner guest never brought wine or a dessert — it must be a generational thing.
If I “hosted” many dinner parties over the years, I would expect, as host, to provide for my guests, not from my guests. Yes, the friend could be more gracious, but so could the “hostess.” -- Old School Host
DEAR OLD SCHOOL: I completely agree about the most satisfying function of a great host, which is to give generously.