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Some people like piercing girls' ears at a very young age so that they "aren't old enough to be afraid of the pain", while others think that the child should have the option to choose to do this, even if they are a young age that is, arguably, easily manipulated by society to believe that ear piercing is the "right" thing to do.

So, what is everyone's opinions on this matter? Should a parent wait until the girl is old enough to at least acknowledge the decision? Should the parent wait until they are at a "mature enough level" to decide this in a semi-adult fashion (e.g. 10+ years old)?

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soliciting opinions is exactly the opposite of what this site is about -- so be sure that your opinions are BACKED UP with either a reference, or a personal experience. –  Jeff Atwood Apr 8 '11 at 23:52
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7 Answers 7

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My opinion is to wait for the child to ask for it. Fear of pain shouldn't be a motivation to decide it for them. Yes, it hurts a little but you can explain that to them. In the end they have to make the decision.

This subject touches on the human right to bodily integrity. I don't want to sound "heavy" and I understand that an earring is relatively harmless but if you pierce the ears of a an infant (obviously without its consent) you violate that right. There is no medical reason or some greater good that warrants this. Only your own pleasure. You yourself think it looks pretty and that is not a valid reason in my eyes.

My two daughters both got their ears pierced when they where about 4 years old. They both wanted to have earrings just like their mother. We explained it would hurt a little and that put them off for a while but in the end they decided that they wanted it anyway. With my youngest daughter it didn't work out the first time. At one time we forgot to put in the earrings for a few days and the hole healed up. After about six months she decided to have another try. She knew it would hurt a little but she still got her ears pierced a second time. So fear of pain doesn't have to be an issue, it all depends on the child.

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+1 I think you if anything sound too "light". :) Let's repeat it: Piercing a childs ears without their consent is a violation of their rights. I'm surprised at the question, even. :) –  Lennart Regebro Apr 8 '11 at 9:43
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+1 But I'll add: in some cultures there is something of an obsession with ear-piercing. If it's going to effect your little one's ability to attend a good school, or anything like that, suck it up and get 'em pierced. It's easily reversible if she doesn't want them later. –  HedgeMage Apr 8 '11 at 20:43
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Seriously ... "human right to bodily integrity"? You are making way too much of this question. Then you contradict yourself by allowing the kids to make the choice at 4, which is way to young to make any decision with long term consequences. –  tomjedrz Nov 5 '11 at 16:24
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My opinion is to wait until the child itself expresses a desire for this.

I'm surprised to see infants with piercings because I feel that the parents make a cosmetic choice that does nothing for the child, but you propose a reason why they might do that (too young to fear the pain) that is new to me. Whether that is valid is for each parent to decide.

I see around me that some cultures place special meanings and values in this, and that would of course also affect the decision. But in general, and particularly with small children, I personally see no reason for, or benefit of, piercings.

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I really wanted my ears pierced, but my parents said I had to wait until I was 10 years old. Their reasoning was that I had to be sure I wanted it done and mature enough to keep them clean. On my tenth birthday my parents took me to the salon and I got my hair and nails done and then went to get my ears pierced. They made a big deal about how grown up I was and I felt so special. I had to wait until I was 18 for any more piercings, tattoos, etc. At that point they said my body was my own, I was an adult and I had the freedom to make my own decisions. I got a second hole in my ears and one at the top of my ear, but they all came out and closed up within a couple years as I matured into who I wanted to be. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I think we will do the same for her

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We did not pierce our baby girl's ears. Human rights debates aside, there are some hygiene issues that I think deserve consideration.

I was allergic to nickel. Still am to an extent. But when I got my ears pierced at the age of 7, it was because I really wanted them to be pierced. That's why I was willing to put up with itching, weeping, swollen, hot, painful earlobes for years. I even used plastic posts and plastic sleeves on metal posts, which are bigger and hurt to put in. I was willing to subject myself to all sorts of torture because I wanted earrings that badly, but I cannot imagine subjecting a baby to that. Metal allergies are not uncommon, yet most people who pierce a baby's ears don't think of that.

Second, caring for pierced ears requires some attention to hygiene beyond all the myriad things you're already doing for your baby. My baby would not have put up with people touching her ears to clean them or rotate posts or examine them often to make sure they aren't infected. I love her to bits, but she's been stubborn since the day she was born. It's important to consider a baby's temperament when making a lot of parenting decisions, and if you feel that your child might not put up with the routine inspection and maintenance, I think it's advisable to wait.

Lastly, even children who are very afraid of needles can get their ears pierced. My sister is needle-phobic. We still managed to get her to do it, mostly because she was around 9 and still couldn't wear pretty earrings like her sister. She chickened out a few times but eventually got it done. The fear and pain can be overcome, even in the worst-case scenario with an extremely fearful child.

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Our 19 year old daughter's ears were pierced when she was an infant, and Grandma gave her a nice pair of earrings. Then there were pictures taken with my wife, her mother, her grandmother, and her daughter all similarly dressed with the similar earrings.

I guess I am a human rights violator. I will book flights to the Hague for my wife and I.

Beyond that, we did not allow tattoos or additional piercings until she reached adulthood. She asked a few times, and we refused. We told her that when she came of age to make her own choices, she would be able to make her own choices. Before that, the choice was ours and we said no.

Our rationale was straight-forward. Pierced ears are culturally normal and accepted. Multiple ear piercings, piercings in other places, and tattoos are less accepted and are difficult to reverse. Personally, I find excessive tattooing distracting and an indicator of impulsiveness and poor judgment, but that is just me.

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@tomjedrz-- +1. To me, this is a cultural question; I think that if you asked/told a lot of the Latino parents around here not to pierce their child's ears, they would think that you're crazy (babycenter.com/0_piercing-your-newborn-babys-ears_10341560.bc). After all, she should celebrate being a girl. It's almost at the level of circumcision-- I don't agree with it, but I don't think it's a human rights violation, and to suggest that either action is really diminishes real human rights violations. –  mmr May 21 '12 at 17:13
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I agree with Remko that piercing an infant's ears violates their right to their own body since they cannot consent. And I would discourage others from making any sort of body modification to their child without his or her consent unless there is a medical necessity.

My own opinion is that a child should not be permitted to modify his or her own body until they reach a certain maturity. Whether that's a hard-coded age or dependent on the child's own mental maturation is up for the parent to decide, obviously, but my wife and I plan on making our daughter (who is a toddler) wait until she is at least 12. Of course, that may change, but I think it's not unreasonable to tell a child that they have to wait until a certain age to attain certain privileges. We do it all the time with other facets in life.

(A short aside: When my brother was 7 he wanted to get a mohawk and kept pestering my parents. My mom told him that when he turned 18 he could get one. He seemed to think that was a swell deal and stopped with the incessant requests.)

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Actually, on things like haircuts and other non-invasive changes, when my kids wanted mohawks (at age 8 for my eldest, I think) we went and cut it then and there. My thinking is that as they have tried it they may be less keen to do it later when it may have a bigger impact on getting a job etc... –  Rory Alsop Nov 7 '11 at 9:30
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Second grade.

In our house it was second grade before we were allowed to get our ears pierced. My parents felt that by that age we were responsible enough to care for them ourselves. There was also a rule that if we didn't care for them and they got infected the earrings would be taken out and the holes allowed to grow closed again. Also, we were not allowed to get second holes until we were 18.

It was great because it made us feel special and it was a neat ritual to go through with our parents. It wasn't just a cosmetic change done without thinking but a serious decision that we were allowed to make understanding the consequences of making permanent changes to our bodies. It was not done lightly.

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