A Case for Not Piercing Your Child’s Ears

By Kara Reynolds | Aug 25, 2017

When it comes to parenting, everyone has an opinion to give you. From feeding your kid organic veggies to receiving shots, your child must be the result of perfect decision-making. It’s enough to drive any parent nuts. When it comes to piercing your child’s ears, some view it as torture while others see it as an issue of consent. How young is too young? Isn’t it kinder to pierce your baby’s ears while they spend most of their lives sleeping? We think not.

Actively Listen for Consent

I’ll be honest. I’m in the consent camp. While a child may agree to have their ears pierced, it’s often to please Mom. Just because you, big sis or cousin Ashley got their ears pierced at a certain age doesn’t mean your child has to go through that “ritual,” especially if their consent is under a “grin and bear it” pretense to soothe your vanity or ego. Piercing a child’s ears is often for Mom, not the child. Kids have minds of their own, and it’s important to encourage independent decisions — that doesn’t mean you gaslight your child into the process. If they get into the chair to have their ears pierced and start to struggle or cry, it’s necessary to stop. If at any point they have doubts, stop making your child do your bidding. According to Julian of Norwich, Mother is like God, especially the eyes of a child. That doesn’t mean you are God — your word should not be law. Even if you don’t push a child to get their ears pierced, realize that emotional manipulation is subtle. At some point, we’re all guilty of it. Instead of your child making an independent decision, you risk breaking an intrinsic trust with your child when you enforce ear piercing rituals because they’ll associate that memory of physical and emotional pain with your guilt trip. You must actively listen for consent, and guiding your child doesn’t mean swaying your child.

Don’t Project Your Vision of Femininity

Why is it necessary to poke holes in your child’s ears? Some mothers get even more than their ears pierced, the tops of the ears or belly buttons. When it goes that far, you’re sexualizing your child, and they’re one step away from being Honey Boo Boo fused with Miley Cyrus, except Miley was old enough to go through the rites of passage of rebellion. Leave some defiance for your child to discover for themselves. Your child’s going to be poked and prodded with plenty of needles and tools. They’re going to be receiving constant shots, vaccinations and injections over the next few years. Why add more than necessary? Don’t project your vision of femininity on your child. At this young age, it’s vital to teach your child about the importance of personal identity, especially bodily consent. Let them come to you. Have you ever gotten a tattoo? If you did, I’m sure you didn’t get a tattoo as a baby or at age five. Maybe that’s a leap, but think about it — you did the research and made the decision. There’s a particular reason why you got your tattoo. Don’t let “because my mom said so” be your child’s reason for getting their ears pierced. As your skin will change over time, you would ideally choose a tattoo that would age well. Similarly, in young children, their ears and the skin there is still growing. Some parents have to have their child’s poorly pierced ear surgically repaired — severe keloids may result due to scar tissue. On the less risky end of the piercing age spectrum, your child’s growing ears may cause the hole’s placement to shift. Many things can go wrong based on your “because Mom said so.” It’s not medically necessary or beneficial to pierce a child’s ears. Your child may be allergic to the metal, and stainless steel is metal the medical professionals recommend for that reason. White gold often contains nickel, and if you choose a pure silver or gold, you child can’t wear it to school. Will the earrings be brought to Christmas dinner to please Nanna and Grandpa? Your child must continuously wear those earrings for six months, or the holes will close. Then, you have to upgrade the size like you’re weaning your baby off their pacifier or bottle to adult cups. It’s a waiting game.

You Waited for the First Step, Why Not This?

Holes intact, and no infection? Congratulations, your child is a little adult. Understandably, you want to skip the teenage years, but take a step back. You eagerly waited for the first step, and the first piercing can wait a little while longer. Your child took that step when they were ready, and you taught them. They learned by example. It’s okay to wait. That wait may be several years long or never, as your child decides what’s right for their body. Look yourself in the mirror, including your own pierced ears, and ask: “Why is this important now? Am I taking away my child’s bodily consent? Am I teaching or enforcing here?”Piercing provides no medical benefits. When it comes down to it, piercing is a personal decision, and this one isn’t yours. Getting their ears pierced should be your child’s decision, based on education, example and experience. For our girls, consent and autonomy are essential lessons that shouldn’t be mandated. You waited for the first step, the first word and continually wait for the wonders your child will experience and show you. Why not this?

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