Mom versus mascara in the battle of the make-up

Mascara.  It’s a simple word, but somehow it has become the bane of my existence. Really and truly.

I’ve never had any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to make-up use and my four daughters. Usually, if something seems reasonable it is worth consideration.

I remember clearly telling my oldest, when she started high school, “you know, if you would like to wear some make-up I am ok with that”.  She gave me a non-committal shrug of the shoulders and off she went.  She can be seen once in a while wearing mascara and on occasion she takes it to the next level by throwing on some neutral lip balm.  My 14-year-old is the same. Very little interest.

Then came #3. Bless her. She loves all things glam and glitter. And she LOVES make up.

Time for mascara!

Daughter #3 is 12 years old. Without me knowing, she started to wear make-up to school (as witnessed on a social media platform…gotta love those selfies!). There is no parenting right or wrong on this one. It is a family values thing. I would like her to wait and personally felt I needed to impose a time frame so I chose grade 8.

But that is eight months away, so she decided to go deeper underground. Black smears on my white towels gave her away.

Ok, I know it’s just mascara. Is her safety at risk? No. Is this really worth making a big deal about?

My gut says: Yes. It strikes fear in me. I worry. Is this the beginning of a decade of struggle? Is this the start of questionable decision making? I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Secretly I am annoyed at my older two daughters for not doing anything to prepare me for this! Could they not have pushed the envelope on SOMETHING to give me a little skill in navigating this?

I know that I should expect this. Tweens & teens challenge their parents, want more independence and value their peer group. Well, I’ll look at this as reassuring. She is right on track.

Great. But what do I do? Do I turn a blind eye? Do I acknowledge it and allow it? Do I stick to my guns?

As I reflect on it, this isn’t about the mascara at all. It is about respect. Respect for me, the rules I put in place and our family values.

I strive to be the parent that Barbara Coloroso calls a backbone parent: our kids need flexibility and an environment that invites creative, constructive and responsible activity.

So with that in mind: deep breath in. I decided to sit down with my daughter and talk. We discussed her feelings and mine. We discussed consequences for breaking the rules. We developed a plan. At the end of the day we negotiated on clear mascara and lip gloss.

It’s hard to know what to challenge and what to let go of. Sometimes it’s the seemingly unimportant incidents that provide opportunity for great learning for a child and even more learning as a parent. This is a small issue that will ideally lead the way to more broadened privileges for her if the rules are respected.

I’ll be keeping an eye on my white towels…who knows, if this goes well we might just be heading to grade 8 in tinted lip gloss!

What do you think? Share with us, we would love to hear from you.

For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About Nicole O'Donnell, RN

Hi! I have been working as a nurse supporting children and their families in acute care, clinic settings and now in public health for over 20 years. As a mother of 4 girls I am walking the walk and talking the talk – from early elementary to high school; life is never dull! I am so thrilled to be connecting with all of you and look forward to sharing this parenting journey together!
This entry was posted in Parenting, School-aged Children, Teens, Tweens and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Mom versus mascara in the battle of the make-up

  1. Shahinda Hamdy says:

    Love your approach. Made me think of my daughter who is turning 5 and is already asking about makeup. Curious if your daughter brought the argument up of, “But every other girl in school does it” and if so, what was your response to that.

    • Thank you Shahinda! Great question. Yes, that argument has come up in many different scenarios in our home! From school lunches to social media use I don’t think it can be avoided. It provides the perfect opportunity to have a conversation about family values and how they differ between families.
      Once I determine that I feel the answer is no, I find great way to approach my daughter is to first connect by showing empathy “I’m sorry it seems that everyone else is wearing make-up” and then I explain my reason for saying no in a way that is age appropriate. At the end of the day, my daughter understands that it is not “my way or the high-way” and that she will be involved in future decision making as we continue on. I hope this helps! ~Nicole

  2. Something my mom did when she was not okay with me wearing makeup too early was compromise by letting me only wear mascara and lip gloss, and everything else I had to wait until high school to wear.

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