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Long Hair Don’t Care

Long Hair Don’t Care

The Yam Fam is multi-cultural and breaking traditions within their family and in the South. 

We are excited to speak to the Yam Fam. They're breaking from traditional parenting in the southeast, raising a seven year old boy and a four year old daughter. 

What makes your family different? 

We may seem like a "typical" American family from afar, but our neighbors will confirm that we're a bit more unique than that. We're eclectic homeschoolers who keep nature at the core of our learning. We make friends with our wildlife by feeding the chipmunks, cawing back to our crow friends, and talking to our plants as we water them. I smudge our house while praying over my family as I follow our Feng shui energy map. We believe children are supposed to be loud outside, get dirty, spill things, have big feelings, share opinions and engage in risky play. 

 

Have you always been untraditional? 

We used to be somewhat conventional, but that shifted when my son developed severe eczema when he turned three months old. Most people think, oh, it's just a rash. On a baby covered head to toe in eczema, it's so much more than a rash. Constant scratching, to the point of drawing blood, and he was always uncomfortable. It became the thing our life revolved around. Doctors never had answers and couldn't help. My boy seemed to calm when we were out in nature. So we went into nature more and looked for unconventional solutions. Discovering allergies and working with a naturopath finally brought my nature boy relief. It was a difficult time, but I will always see the silver lining from this as the beginning of our enlightenment.

 

How is your parenting different? 

We decided to raise our children differently than the traditional way. We want to create a safe space that is respectful, supportive and loving. We want our children to desire a relationship with us as adults. We strive to nurture their true selves and cast off toxic social norms.

 

In what ways does your son go against social norms?

My nature boy has always had long hair and loves his hair. It's dark, fairly straight, lustrous, and to the waistband of his pants. He's a quiet and observant boy in public, but if someone calls him a girl, he's quick to correct them. Extended family members have tried to tell him to get a haircut, but he holds firm and tells them he likes it. His hair, which society tells him is wrong, has become the thing to give him confidence and a strong voice. 

How else does he break the norms? 

He has also had phases of loving particular characters that others deem "girly." He proudly wore Minnie Mouse clothing because she's a happy helper, and he likes to help people too. He loves princess peach from Mario Kart, and let's be honest; she is the fastest! For Halloween, he was Princess Peach with a cardboard racing kart. He wears all the rainbow colors and sometimes steals his sister's tutus. I've offered to buy his own, but he doesn't wear them often enough. Whatever my children feel confident and comfortable wearing is ultimately their decision. 

 

Have you ever faced backlash around your parenting and who your son is? 

Most of the negative comments we receive about these choices are from our families. It's been hard navigating healthy boundaries with our families, but it's been worth it. We stand by our parenting decisions, and our families have learned to accept them. 

 

Wow, I imagine getting backlash from your own family is difficult. 

We're a multicultural family. My husband is Chinese, born and raised in England. His family is relatively traditional in their Chinese customs. We walk a fine line between observing and learning about this half of my children's heritage and trailblazing a new path of individual acceptance and respect. 

 

How do you honor their Chinese heritage in the South? 

We celebrate Chinese holidays and have shared them in our homeschool community with parties for the Chinese new year. We strategically plan regular outings to our local Chinatown so our children are around others who look like them. Celebrating their culture and learning about cultures worldwide is one of our favorite studies through homeschooling. I emphasized learning de-colonized worldview history, not just Eurocentric history. We also look for children's books with characters that look like my children's; we read stories and poems written by marginalized authors and learn about marginalized artists.

 

What's your philosophy about homeschooling?

Learning is at the heart of everything we do. My goal is to instill a love of learning by following my children's interests, teaching in their preferred learning style, and waiting for their readiness cues for particular skill sets, like reading. My son is seven, and we're still in the beginning stages of reading.

How do you not succumb to societal pressures in terms of schooling? 

 I feel a lot of pressure from others saying he should be reading by now. It can be hard to trust the process, but I know we'll get there, and we're good. He loves science, history, and learning about the world. He's advanced in those areas and surprises me with his cleverness. Homeschool also gives him more time to play. I'm protective of their childhood and want them to find joy and innocence in their youth for as long as I can. 

 

Let's talk about outdated gender rules. You're raising a boy and a girl. How do you handle that in your family?

We're adamant about shutting down gendered colors, toys, ways of playing, etc. Because of this, my son and daughter play with all their toys together. My son is happy to play with her games or dolls and dinosaurs, and she's happy to play with cars and Mario toys. They often end up combining their toys in elaborate imaginative games. The fairy house in our front garden gets a lot of play-action. He loves making jewelry and wearing his unique creations. He also likes to wear a crown on our neighborhood walks; he is the king.

Do people confuse your son for a girl ever? And how is that handled?

He loves playing outside and running. Most people assume he's a girl because of his hair, and when he takes a tumble, they're attentive and sweet. If they realize he's a boy, there's often a shift. I'll hear comments about how he needs to be tough or shouldn't cry. I hold him, let him work through his experience on his terms, and show his emotions as he needs to. I aim to have an emotionally mature and resilient child, not a "tough" one. 

 

Thank you so much! We love your family and feel like you embody what OSHE stands for!

We love the OSHE image of boys being their unique selves and how that looks in all its glorious forms. My OSHE boy is comfortable simply being who he is, and we celebrate that.

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