Posted at 6:00 AM ET Nov 27, 2018
Stephanie Hollifield and her daughter Haley. Hollifield is congratulated for wanting to ask for help after being unable to figure out how to style Haley's hair. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Hollifield)
Sometimes the best thing we can do as parents is to admit that we are not good at something and that we ask for help.
That's what Stephanie Hollifield did in a humbling message that has become a beacon of understanding and compassion.
Before Thanksgiving, Hollifield took a picture of her 2-year-old daughter Haley from a school teacher. Haley, who is adopted, beamed while she was coloring a turkey. But Hollifield, who is white, is focused on Haley's hair. She felt that her child's hair looked neglected, despite the daily care. She felt like a "failure" as a mother for her inability to keep her little girl well maintained.
Hollifield took Facebook to expose his guilt. She called herself a "clueless white mother" and asked "black friends of social media" any possible help for her child's hair.
After detailing the long routine that Hollifield, wife and mother of five, had for Haley's hair, she ended her duties by uttering a sentence that all parents can identify:
"I desperately want to do things right!"
His sincere request has sparked a wave of support and sympathy for the mother of Georgia, who heads the Momstrosity blog. Many were touched by the fact that Hollifield would come to light – exposed to often nasty criticism of social media comments – for the love of his daughter.
Strangers began to recommend products that they personally found that worked for black hair. They tagged friends with hair that they admired for sharing tips. They reassured her that she would eventually get it.
Some shared examples of pictures of their children's hair.
But one person has taken a step further. Monica Hunter, a black mother who lived near Hollifield, offered to come to Hollifield for a step-by-step tutorial on shaping textured hair.
Although she was skeptical at first, Hollifield accepted Hunter's offer and asked her to go to her home, where she combed Haley's hair and gave Hollifield lessons on how Combs and products work best. She would not accept money. But she accepted Hollifield's offer of friendship.
"What was crazy for me at Monica was that I never met her and she suggested I come to my house. At first I laughed a little and I thought, "Yes, I'll do it someday." I never really thought that she was thinking about it. But she did it and she again reached out and showed herself very kind and helpful. Said Hollifield at USA TODAY.
We talked with Hollifield about his post and Haley's hair now
Question: Have you had any reservations to contact the black community in order to get help for your daughter's hair?
Reply: I had reservations about the wording, but since our eldest son was placed in foster care, we understood the interest of reaching out to our black friends and neighbors. I might experience discomfort or learning / growth difficulties about how to raise my children. Not just with hair and skin care, but culturally and otherwise.
Q: What gives you the courage to overcome discomfort when it comes to race?
A: I understand that nobody owes us anything and we really got into this very naive adoption. We felt that we could be color-blind, love our children and serve all our children in the same way. What we have learned is that we can not be blind to their culture and their color. We must celebrate it and help them to be proud of it.
We are truly grateful to all of our Black friends who have partnered and partnered with us in this area. It is embarrassing to navigate this space as a white woman who has been taught that racial talk is racist. It was a big learning curve to understand that we had to learn and talk about race. I hate that we did not have this revelation before we had children, but we did not do it.
Q: What was your response to all comments?
A: Monica and I were shocked by the fact that so many people are interested. But I love the conversations that begin!
Q: Since Monica's help, do you find it easier to style your daughter? What products and techniques have you put into practice since?
A: I knew that I was missing something simple. Very good friends and community members came forward to tell me which products to use. We went to the lounge and they were of such help. What I did not understand was that most of the time, Haley's hair had to be protected in order to protect them, keep them healthy and help them grow. I did not understand either, nor did I ever imagine that we would be able to make these protective styles ourselves.
Monica came and m literally crossed me. I did not know it was what I needed, but it really was. Right now, we're doing a lot of little puffs. Her hair is still so short and so thin that Monica worried that the braids would not hold now. I watched a video on YouTube the other night and I twisted her hair. He looks super cute for about 20 minutes, then is out. I have work to do.
Read or share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/allthemoms/2018/11/27/strangers-embrace-white-mom-whos-clueless-black-daughters-hair/2116117002/