Chad Milner with daughter Cydney
By Chad Milner

One Sunday afternoon, when I was 16 years old, I had a random-yet-intuitive premonition. I looked at my then-months old little cousin in her bassinet and thought to myself “My first child is going to be a little girl,” as my grandmother weaved cornrows into my teenage scalp.

I didn’t give the credence much thought until a decade later. My long-time girlfriend was in her first trimester and we conversed about the gender of our first child. Without hesitation, I told her we were having a daughter and I wanted to be the kind of father that did her hair.

After a hard-fought bout with cancer, my daughter’s mother passed away when our child, Cydney, was nine months old. Given the circumstances, I was forced into learning how to maintain my baby’s mane.

At first, Cydney’s hair care regimen required no experience: all I had to do was comb the top of her head-where she had lots of little curls-and brush the hairs on the sides. Cyd was born with a full head of hair, her mother’s was very long, and I had locs; I knew one day my kid’s hair would grow and my little brush-and-bow skillset would not be enough.

Like most toddlers, the sides of Cydney’s hair evened out with her curly top. Her one bow evolved into mini pigtails with a mini-fro of some sort in the back. It wasn’t anything complicated or intricate; but it was cute.

In 2012, I started my blog that chronicled my adventures as a single father. The responses to my daughter’s hair validated me. As a hyper-competitive alpha male, my daughter’s hair became a challenge I felt compelled to continuously outdo myself; and an audience stoked that fire. Somewhere between narcissism and necessity, my next mountain to climb was braiding my daughter’s hair.

I didn’t know much. The first thing I figured out how to do was little plaits and box braids. Her hair was no longer than 1.5 inches, so it cramped my fingers and I was over this style quickly and I got tired of doing the same style.

My first foray into cornrowing hair came from braiding down box braids into each other. Eventually, I grew tired of doing this as well because it was quite a headache to take out. One day, I looked at my child’s messy head and said “It’s time to cornrow this.”

From my teenage years, I knew what cornrows felt like; but I was clueless in doing the deed myself. Instead of weaving outward, I crocheted inward. I posted a picture of my work on social media and was told I did an amazing job. Looking back, they were encouraging me to keep trying because it wasn’t that great. Regardless, I felt inspired to keep going. Once I got better at it, I began making little parts, zig zags, and designs.

Cydney’s hair had a very interesting texture. The front half of her hair was like her half Puerto Rican mother’s: fine, long, and curly at the top. The back was like mine: very black. Coming up with styles that suited this unique blend was trial and error. By trial and error, I am referring that period of time when the black half of her head completely broke off.

In time, I learned to do it all. I guess I started getting pretty good at doing my daughter’s hair because my friends and followers sent me pictures of hairstyles with messages such as “This made me think of you” and “You should try this style,” and I would mimic them as best as possible. I braided crisscrosses, put beads on the end, and for one of her birthdays, I braided a heart into the back of Cydney’s head (Note: Cydney’s birthday is Valentine’s Day). I even taught myself how to flat iron and use a curler.

I started learning about different oils, conditioners, and products because my little girl’s maintenance was now a major part of raising her. In Kindergarten, Cyd began to tell me that she wanted to wear her natural curls and I had to learn how to do so.

As a single parent, [historically] feminine hair care became a conversation piece with women. My following inquire about my methods and preferences in products through social media. When I was dating, somehow the topic of hair would come up with different people of interest. One day, as I sat and [im]patiently waited for my girlfriend to finish getting ready, I looked at a bottle of conditioner on her dresser, pointed, and told her “I use that for Cydney’s hair.” We recently had a whole discussion about flat irons in which I knew brand names.
My daughter turned six last February. She hasn’t been too fond of me braiding her hair for some time. Her hair had begun to take a toll on us both. My fingers began to cramp because of she had so much hair—it flowed past her shoulder blades. The spring and summer of 2017 was filled with her constantly telling me it hurt and I would reply “If I see tears, I won’t braid your hair anymore.” It has become time for someone else to take the proverbial reigns and maintain her mane. The $50 I spent every other week became an investment in both of our sanity. But every once in a while, I still throw down to show I still got it…

…or I’m preparing to do it all again for another daughter.

 How many men do you know who can braid hair?

  Read it because I wrote it: Chad Milner is a New York-based father who loves to share his love of words with others. From music to black fatherhood, Chad’s insights have been featured on NBC News, Attn:, Madamenoire, Anecdote Magazine, and several others. Follow his journey raising his daughter, Cydney at Single Dadventures.
Luciana Gilmore: Founder of 'Gilmore Girls Greeting' 
By Kanisha Parks
Some mother-daughter relationships form relatively easily and only grow more resilient over time into an unbreakable bond of understanding, love, and respect for one another. But the more common truth is that mother-daughter relationships can be difficult—and that’s an understatement. From infancy to adulthood, entire complicated histories are formed between a mother and her daughter and the truth is: navigating those waters can prove difficult. 

At the heart of almost every mother-daughter issue can be found a lack of healthy communication, often birthed from the false idea that telling a child too much will cause them to become curious and therefore make mistakes. Some mothers simply never learned the delicate art of communicating with their children. Other times, mothers have shame regarding the decisions they’ve made in the past, which prevents them from having the courage to really talk to their daughters. This results in a shared fear of communication that only debilitates the bond between mother and daughter.

These are truths that Luciana Gilmore, founder of Gilmore Girls Greetings, knows all too well. But she has responded with a unique approach by creating greeting cards that seek to bridge the gap of communication that many mothers encounter with their daughters. “Unlike other greeting cards,” Luciana says, “These are more personal and the message isn’t generic. My cards are written from real circumstances I’ve experienced with my daughter or one of my students. They come from a place where a daughter will want to hold on to it.”

Gilmore Girls Greetings was inspired both by Luciana’s role as an educator for over 15 years and her own experiences as a daughter and mother. Growing up, Luciana admits that she definitely struggled to communicate with her own mother.
“My mother was not very open or transparent about anything she went through as a young girl. Usually when my mother and I ‘talked,’ it was yelling. I didn’t feel like I could come to her. For example, when it comes to friends, my mother’s philosophy was, ‘Nobody’s a friend.’ She didn’t talk me through the qualities I should look for in a friend. It would’ve been helpful to know that I could talk to my mom so that I didn’t have to learn a lot of things on my own.”
After becoming a mother herself, Luciana was determined to change that. She has three children: Asiya (17), Jada (9), and Demetrius (4). After having Asiya, Luciana realized that despite being determined not to repeat the mistakes her mother had made, she hadn’t been as open and honest as she could’ve been with her own daughter.

“I noticed this when Asiya was getting ready to enter the teenage years. She was my only child until she was eight years old, so it was easy to cater to her. Once I had my younger daughter, I was trying to balance having two girls and giving them equal time, attention, and affection. I started noticing changes in Asiya, but something about her being my daughter prevented me from being open and transparent. I was scared because in hindsight, I knew I could’ve and should’ve talked more openly with her. When she turned 17, I asked myself, ‘Did I say this? Did I do this? Did I teach her this?’ Reality hit me that I needed to make sure I had given her the right information. I then became very intentional about things I shared with her.”
Gilmore Girls Greetings was truly born as Luciana and her daughter started writing cards to each other. They began communicating things they never got to say, and how it made them feel when there was a lack of communication. Soon they were able to have insight into each other's thinking, and today, both mother and daughter can talk about anything.

Asiya is now a college student and Luciana even sends her ‘Love Drops,’ which are packages you can order that are custom-made for your daughter’s interests, including all of her favorite sweets and supplies, complete with a message written just for her.

“Even if I don’t talk to Asiya every day, when she receives the package, it assures her that I love her and am thinking about her,” says Luciana.

With these greeting cards, 'Love Drops,' and her new book, “Daughter, Have I Told You Lately,” Luciana is giving mothers a way to ensure that encouragement, support, and love are communicated to their daughters. And just like Luciana did with her daughter, know that it’s never too late to try to correct your mistakes or to begin healing.

Learn more about Gilmore Girls Greetings!

How do you maintain a healthy bond with your daughter?

Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other than, she has also written for BlackNaps.organd Devozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at [email protected]