OAK PARK, Ill. – The challenges of parenthood are plentiful. For some adoptive parents, learning the basics of what may not come naturally can be especially frustrating. But one nonprofit is focused on providing resources and information for those who find themselves in a hairy situation.
Inside an Oak Park, Illinois, hair salon on a recent Thursday afternoon, moms were being taught a basic but essential parenting skill.
“So, you’re going to divide the hair into four sections here," explained Tamekia Swint who led the class.
Ponytails, twists, braiding, you name it and the hair care experts at the salon can teach it. All of it for parents with children who have textured hair.
“We’ve got every texture in this room,” exclaimed Swint as she surveyed the room.
Swint started the nonprofit salon, Styles4Kidz, nine years ago. The salon helps parents of biracial children and interracial adoptive and foster parents manage their children’s hair.
“We love being in the position to be able to offer hope to families and parents who are struggling and let them know it's OK,” she said.
At workshops, Swint provides a safe space for transracial families to learn and get answers about unfamiliar locks without worry.
“So, it's like you know I don't want to say the wrong things. So how do I say the right thing in a way that doesn't offend but still gives me the information that I need,” Swint said.
Shavonne Patterson, a licensed hair braider at Styles4Kidz, says the most common questions are about hair care products and how often to wash.
“If we continue to wash it, we’ll lose all our oils and nutrients and it will dry the hair out and it will fall out,” said Patterson.
For mothers like Anna Bonick, learning to do her daughter Elise’s hair correctly was imperative for establishing her own identity.
“What's really important is learning from stylists who are familiar with afro textured hair especially if they have it themselves because they're able to celebrate and explain it best,” said Bonick.
Her daughter, Elise, says she enjoys her monthly visit to the salon and has a favorite style.
“My favorite was, I had box braids. They’re very long braids and it’s hard to explain,” she said.