Published at 6:00 a.m. ET of November 27, 2018
Stephanie Hollifield and her daughter Haley. Hollifield is being praised for her willingness to ask for help after she could not figure out how to comb Haley's hair. (Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Hollifield)
Sometimes, the best thing we can do as parents is admit that we are not good at something and ask for help.
That's what Stephanie Hollifield did in a humble post that became a beacon for understanding and compassion.
Prior to Thanksgiving, Hollifield received a photo of her 2-year-old daughter, Haley, from a school teacher. Haley, who is adopted, smiled as she colored an image of a turkey. But Hollifield, who is white, focused on Haley's hair. He felt that his son's hair seemed careless, despite the daily care. She felt like a "failure" as a mother because of her inability to keep her little girl well groomed.
Hollifield went to Facebook to expose his guilt. She called herself "clueless white mom" and asked "black friends of social networks" for any help they could offer for her son's braids.
After detailing the extensive routine that Hollifield, wife and mother of five children, has for Haley's hair, she finished her publication with a phrase that all parents can relate to:
"I desperately want to do this right!"
Her sincere request sparked a wave of support and sympathy for Georgia's mother who runs the Momstrosity blog. Many were moved by Hollifield's exposure, exposed to the often unpleasant criticism of social media comments, for her daughter's sake.
Strangers began recommending products that they personally found to work for black hair. They labeled the friends with the hair they admired to share tips. They assured him that he would finally get it.
Some examples of shared photos of your children's hair.
But one person took another step. Monica Hunter, a black mother who lived not far from Hollifield, volunteered to come to Hollifield to receive a step-by-step tutorial on how to arrange textured hair.
Although initially skeptical, Hollifield accepted Hunter's offer and invited her to his home, where Hunter designed Haley's hair and gave him Hollifield lessons in which the combs and products work best. She would not accept any money. But she accepted Hollifield with an offer of friendship.
"What was crazy to me for Monica was that I had never met her and she offered to come to my house." At first I laughed and said to myself: "Yes, I will one day." I never really thought he meant it. But he did it and he approached again, he came up and he was very kind and helpful, "Hollifield told USA TODAY.
We speak with Hollifield about his publication and Haley's hair now
Question: Did you have any reservations in reaching the black community to get help for your daughter's hair?
Reply: I had reservations about how to write it, but since we adopted our oldest child of foster care, we have understood the value of reaching out to our black friends and neighbors. It is absolutely worthwhile any discomfort or pain of learning / growth that I may feel when having knowledge about how to raise my children. Not only with hair and skin care, but also culturally and otherwise.
Q: What gives you the courage to overcome the discomfort when it comes to talking about race?
A: I understand that nobody owes us anything and we really went to this very naive adoption. We feel we could be color blind and love our children and serve all of our children in the same way. What we have learned is that we can not be blind to their culture and their color. We have to celebrate and we must help them feel proud of it.
We have been very, very grateful for all our black friends who have volunteered and collaborated with us in that. It is uncomfortable to navigate that space as a white woman who was taught that talking about race is racist. That was a great learning curve to understand that we needed to learn and talk about race. I hate not having that revelation before having children, but we did not have it.
Q: What was your response to all the comments?
A: Monica and I have been surprised that so many people are interested. But I love the conversations that are starting!
Q: Since Monica's help, is it easier for you to comb your daughter? What products and techniques have you put into practice since then?
A: I knew I was missing something simple. I have had such sweet friends and members of the community who have told me what products to use. We have been in the room and have been very helpful. What I did not understand was that Haley's hair had to be in a protective style most of the time to protect it, keep it healthy and help it grow. I also did not understand, or never imagined that we could do these protective styles ourselves.
Monica came and literally guided me through this. I did not know that was what I needed, but it really was. At this moment we are making a lot of small puffs. Her hair is still so short and so thin that Monica was afraid that the braids would not hold at this moment. I watched a YouTube video the other night and twisted her hair a little. It looks super cute for about 20 minutes, and then it came out. I have some 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/