I waffled on which forum this belonged in, so move it if you need to. Anyway, I wear a beard (chinstrap I’m allowing to grow out) and my mom thinks my young nieces are afraid of the beard. I think they are merely confused by my wheelchair. My mom is anti-facial hair anyway, so I just dismiss it as her own bias. If she wasn’t there when I got the haircut that became the original chinstrap, I’d probably be cleanshaven. (Yeah, I know we have a complicated relationship)
It depend on how many other people in the children’s lives have facial hair. My kids were born in mid 1998 and mid 1999. I had a beard until mid 2000. Even though they probably don’t remember me with a beard, they don’t have a problem with anyone who has one.
You never can know what’s going on in their little minds. They might fixate on a nose or a mole or a cleft chin.
The only incident of a child being afraid of facial hair would be Baby Albert. In 1920, behavioral psychologist John B. Watson did a series of experiments in which he conditioned Albert to fear a white bunny. He put Al and the bunny in an enclosed area and everytime the baby tried to touch the bunny Al would bang a steel gong with a hammer. In later experiments Watson found that Albert was afraid of not only the bunny, but anything white and fluffy, including beards. So don’t make any loud noises around your nieces and you’ll be fine.
Seriously, what Double P said.
Depends, I guess. My little nephew used to sit on my lap and feel mine, like he was fascinated or something. Then again, my brother (his dad) grew a goatee (right after I grew my beard, the copycat), so maybe he’s just used to it.
I’d say that children aren’t innately afraid of facial hair. My Dad has had a full beard for years, and small children love him- the first thing babies do is tug on his beard!
Granted, in the past couple years, he’s gone silver, so he looks pretty Santa Claus-ish, but that’s not always been the case, and it hasn’t made any difference- children love him. And for what else it’s worth, he’s 6’3" and 290, so apparently size doesn’t make much difference either.
For some reason this seems appropriate:
Moderator’s Note: This thread seems like it’s mostly going to consist of people swapping anecdotes, which is kind of like a poll, I guess. Off to IMHO.
I have a full grey beard, and hair down below my shoulders. Mostly infants grab on to my beard, and try to eat it. Some are afraid, although that is fairly rare. Slightly older children seem to be curious if it is something new.
I love babies, and will always hold one, if it is OK with the baby. Mostly it is.
“Courtship consists in a number of quiet attentions, not so pointed as to alarm, nor so vague as not to be understood.” ~ Laurence Sterne ~
Once when I was in college a divorced mom I knew slightly brought her two-year old with her to a store where I was. The toddler shrank behind her mom at the sight of me. She explained, “Don’t take it personally, it’s probably because her father had a beard too.” I did not want to ask about what sort of man he must have been. :mad:
A few years later I had my beard grown out kind of wild and I was standing in line to buy tickets, just minding my own business, when I heard a four-year-old say, “Mommy, that man is scary.”
These were the only two incidents in my 25-year history of having a beard. Nowadays I keep it neatly trimmed, and look quite debonair if I do say so myself.
When my nieces and nephews were babies I was the only one in the family with a beard. None of them, as far as I can remember, had any adverse reaction to their hairy-faced uncle. They did tend to grab at the beard and pull when I was holding them, much to their parents’ amusement.
My father has a mustache, and when I was little, I was afraid of all men without them.
Small children react differently to new experiences and some, as per ** LurkMeister**'s experience, don’t react to facial hair even if it’s an anomaly in their experience. Perhaps they’re focussed on other things, like body english and eye contact?
But other kids do react to unfamiliar human features. In addition to facial hair, my experience has been that children whose parents don’t wear’em react to my eyeglasses.
A few are fearful, but for others it’s simply a matter of passing the grab and chew test.
Interesting how the little ones work their way into their environment, isn’t it?
For some reason a friend’s kid had a dislike of people wearing baseball caps; if you picked him up and you were wearing a baseball cap he would reach up, grab the bill of the cap and throw it. This was particularly odd because his father always wore a baseball cap, and the kid would do it to him too.
Children aren’t afraid of facial hair. I had facial hair when my son was born and he was afraid of men without facial hair. It’s just whatever they’re used to.
How old are your nieces? If they are young then it’s probably whatever makes you different. You mentioned a wheelchair. If you are just meeting them and they’ve not know a lot of people with wheelchairs I’d venture it’s this. If you’re up to it and they’re small enough maybe give them a ride around; they’d probably think it’s pretty cool. And be prepared for questions since kids aren’t generally afraid to say or ask anything, unless their parents have drummed that out of them.
When I was 5, my dad went from just having a mustache to growing a beard. I remember being very angry about it, though I think part of it was because I didn’t like his scratchy face when he was first starting.
I disliked it so much that I asked him to shave it off for my birthday. He said he would, though later he said “I didn’t say which birthday, did I?”
17 years later, he still has it, though he’s been trimming it shorter for the past few years.
We have some friends who have a daughter about the ago of our son.
The first time she met me, she shrinked back and seemed a little afraid.
“Oh don’t worry,” her mom said, “it’s just the beard.”
(a little about me here… I’m a BIG man!)
Me- “Oh really? My bicep is bigger around than she is! My closed fist is nearly bigger than her head! I’m literally TWELVE TIMES her weight and THREE TIMES her height! I can benchpress the equivalent of FIFTEEN little girls her size. And, it’s the beard?”
Well, GrizzCub and GrizzWife love me!
I agree with the ‘what are they used to’ and ‘whether that feature has positive associations’ concepts.
*My younger son is cautious around (but not afraid of) men who do not fall into one of these two categories:
Beard and no glasses (daddy)
Glasses and no beard (grandpas) *
Also, kids have their own preferences, regardless of what they are used to.
Same son also dislikes my glasses, and will yank them from my face and throw them if he gets a chance. Violently. Once they are off my face, he leans in close and gazes into my eyes, apparently very happy with the new appearance. And yeah, he throws other things (he’s 9 months old, after all), but he does seem to have a distinct dislike of the glasses.
And changes in one person’s face make a difference, too.
My step-dad had a beard (nice thick dark one), and decided to shave it off. My little brother freaked and wouldn’t come near him until he grew it back far enough to look like a beard again. Then he sat my brother down with him in the bathroom and let him watch while he shaved it off again - THEN, and only then, was my brother fine with daddy-sans-beard.
The appearance thing also seems to be stronger in kids who are higly visual. Some kids are more auditory (and hoarseness or changes in voice bug them), some kids are more kinesthetic (like me - I attached to the feeling of someone’s hair - reacted to how hair and faces FELT, rather than looked. Still remember exactly how my dad’s hair felt, when I was little enough to just barely reach the top of his hand when standing on his lap).
reach the top of his HEAD - with my hand. Bad edit.
I agree with others that it simply depends on the men in the kids’ lives. My dad has had a beard my whole life. When I was younger, I assumed that all men with beards must be nice men like my dad. To this day, I’m more disposed to like men with beards. And keep your Electra complex suggestions to yourself, thank you very much.
I knew there was a reason to be nervous about Santa Claus…