Many parents look for the ideal image for their teens when it comes to their shaving choices: the well-groomed, shaved look is the number one choice for them. The teens, instead, may be bent on experimenting with their looks, being new to the world of facial hair and shaving, seeking novelty and creativity of expression in doing so. They might end up making the wrong choices. However, you can always guide them in creating expressive looks that do not make them look like fools.
The ‘Hairy Look’ has Become Mainstream
Many parents grew up in a generation which accepted the well-groomed look without any facial hair as the standard. That is no longer the case now. Flipping through channels on a TV, one can find many advertisements feature a male model with some form of facial hair, be it a full-grown beard, stubble or just a mustache. This might be so to connect with the everyday look of men these days. It might also mean that facial hair carries a meaning of being mature or wise. Whatever the reasoning behind having facial hair, one thing is clear that they are becoming mainstream and standard now, gaining the most amount of popularity with young people. Parents have to be mindful that their teens are just accepting the standard and not breaking the norm when it comes to sporting a hairy look. They have to be, therefore, accepting of their teens’ experimentation.
Discuss What doesn’t Work
It is important to talk it out with your teen about what is acceptable versus unacceptable when it comes to finding their new look. Communicate to them that hair may be the ‘in’ thing, however, disheveled or dirty is not the way to be when it comes to them. Talk about the importance of keeping everything clean, symmetrical and smart.
Mention to them that hair that reach over the lip to the mouth line are outright unpleasant and unhygienic, or that patches on the face are unsightly, or overgrown hair in an unkempt beard signal a shoddy appearance. All of these could convey a lazy demeanor, teenage years’ defiance, or lack of care for the way one appears to others, which could mean there is some underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Even when a teenager feels it is alright to have hair that are overgrown, make them realize that having such an appearance can result in a wrong impression and it may be best to trim up.
Get Them the Tools for the Job
If they must have facial hair, then they must have the correct tools to maintain them. You may suggest to them to get an electric razor which can keep the beard even or help create the faded look. Scissors are an essential tool to have too. If you want the length of the hair in check, it is necessary to have the barber’s scissors to perform the daily task of pruning the unruly hairs. Just these two tools can significantly improve your teen’s appearance and make them disciplined by encouraging the adoption of a grooming routine.
Do not, however, go out and buy them the needed equipment but let them buy it. This will make them realize how much investment goes into keeping and maintaining facial hair and if they really are up to the task of doing so.
Keep an Open Mind
Teens can become obsessed with trying out hairstyles and facial hair as they are excited about how they can experiment with varying how they look. You must remain patient no matter what, whether they try one week a French beard, the other week a puny mustache, the week after they let their sideburns thicken up, or after a month they end up emulating a favorite celebrity’s new look. It is quite likely that many facial hair styles will end up looking ridiculous on them. Nevertheless, you must encourage, and not demean, their efforts. They are in a phase of self-discovery manifested in the form of frequent look changes.
You may just suggest to them ever so slightly without proclaiming an outright rejection: “If were you, I wouldn’t settle for something like this, but keep it if it looks good to you.” There is no point in being too worried about a certain style that did not suit them as they might change it soon enough. However, if some facial hair look gives off a shabby impression of your teen, do interject then. Styles adopted out of fashion that aren’t messy shouldn’t be an issue though.
Set Your Own Example
If you are yourself not serious about keeping a clean, shaved look, why should your teen care? It is important to show by example. You must ensure that you should trim up and shave yourself regularly. You could even shave with your teen sometimes to make them realize the importance of being well-groomed. They might gain inspiration from your grooming practices and adopt them as they enter the phase of experimenting with their looks.
To Trim or Not to Trim
Remember these tips lest you decide to go against your teens once they enter the experimental stage of changing facial hair looks. They are not used to the standard of a clean, shaven look, so you must not expect that they will understand. They will also initially stumble through various disastrous looks since they mostly go for the immediate option without assessing the alternatives. But, do take it as a period they have to traverse in order to become the gentleman they are destined to be.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.