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Get a Haircut

Press Release –Get a Haircut

Sixteen-year-old Lucan Battison was suspended from Hastings' St John's College because his hair was too long. Now his parents are going to the High Court for a judicial review of that decision. There has been a lot of opinion voiced on this already in media but I would like to add a parenting perspective.

I confess: I am old and balding, so maybe my opinion is tinged with a little jealousy of Lucan’s great head of hair. I would also concede that, according to my children, I have zero fashion sense. They suspect that I still order my clothes from a 1995 Farmers’ Catalogue.

While I am making confessions, I also admit that having school rules about hair length seems primitive. I thought so back in the 1970s when I was at school and I haven’t changed my mind. Also, Lucan seems like a great kid and his parents are acting from good motives in wanting to support him.

Enough confessions. The boy should get a haircut, for at least two reasons. First, because the parents chose a private school with a special character. If part of that character is a strict adherence to an old-fashioned uniform and dress code, that is part of the deal. Like it or lump it, and the Battisons have the option to lump it off to a hairier school. And secondly, part of the benefit of rules is that they are an exercise in obedience. The idea of obedience as a virtue is even more old-fashioned than short-haircuts but, basically, discipline now leads to self-discipline later. As parents we do the same thing – our rules and discipline are aimed at helping kids to have self control.

However, as parents, we should avoid a few mistakes that I think St John’s has made. A key parenting idea is, ‘Rules without Reasons leads to Rebellion’. If there isn’t a good reason for the rule, don’t have the rule. The worst reason for a rule is, “Because I said so!” so St John’s should put up a good case or change the rule. The second mistake to avoid is inconsistency. Apparently Lucan has had long hair for three years before it became an issue. You can change rules for good reasons, but if you think a rule really is worth having, enforce it consistently. Inconsistency is unfair.


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