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To pierce or not to pierce (ears, that is)

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“Momma? When can I get my ears pierced?”

This was a question I’d anticipated, but not for a few more years. Claire is four-years old, and I knew it would come up eventually.

I answered with my standard I’ve-been-caught-off-guard response, which consists of, “Well, that’s a great question!” …stalling, stalling, stalling. “Why do you ask?” …an answer with a question always gives you more time.

That’s when I found out a little girl at Claire’s preschool has her ears pierced. The other girls had been talking about this fact at recess.

That’s the point in the conversation with Claire that I was able to postpone the true answer by telling her I’d talk to Daddy about it and we’d make a decision about it later.  …stall tactic complete.  For now.

It was at that point that all of my own childhood memories came flooding back.

When I was younger, I was not allowed to have my ears pierced. My mother’s personal beliefs were what they were, and we knew that we’d never be allowed to do it. In fact, I didn’t get my ears pierced until after I’d graduated from college.

But, I remember when the girls in my class started getting them done, and I wanted so badly to have mine done, too. In fact, I vowed that if I ever had a girl, I wouldn’t be as strict as my mom was with us.

“As soon as she’s old enough to ask me for them,” I told myself, “she can get them pierced.”

I had no idea when then-mythical daughters would ask questions, but I certainly wasn’t expecting that to happen at age four.

So, I talked with my husband about it, and he agreed that four seemed a little young. Or did it? Admittedly he didn’t know, and neither did I. I mean, there are people who get their baby’s ears pierced at birth. There are cultures that dictate time-lines for these things.

With most everything, we rely on our own childhoods as a jumping-off point and make decisions from there. Unfortunately, we’re on our own on this one: My husband never got his ears pierced and has no sisters, and it was frowned upon in my family.

So, we’re starting from square one.

We talked about it and agreed that we want to pair the ear piercing with a milestone: Maybe going to Kindergarten? Maybe when she reaches a certain age? I know that if she has something solid to look forward to, the answers to the “May I now? May I now? Whataboutnow?” questions will be easier.

But, we haven’t decided what that will be.

We agreed that we’d talk about it when she asked again, and thankfully, that hasn’t happened…


What about you? Do you have your ears pierced, and was it a big deal? Do you have a set time for this milestone for your child? Share your stories!

Author: JoAnn

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  • comment avatar Louise May 6, 2010

    I took my little girl to get her ears pierced when she turned two. A few seconds of pain and it was over with! She has never pulled or grabbed at her earrings. It has been a very easy time as compared to when I got them many years ago when I was in elementary school. I am glad she got her ears pierced so young and would recommend it to anyone with a little princess!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson May 6, 2010

    Our ear piercing story is a painful one. When my daughter was 3, I was home in Canada and my sister-in-law convinced me to do it. The whole thing would have gone off without a hitch if the store had two piercing guns but since they only had one and missed the first try, there was no way my daughter would let us try again.

    So, our ear-piercing dilemma has been solved. She was sufficiently traumatized and three years later, has never asked to go back. 🙂

  • comment avatar Katherine May 6, 2010

    My parents had always said ear piering could happen for our 13th birthday. I have 2 sisters and I’m the oldest. BUT…my little sister is sneaky and convinced our Aunt, who is a major rulebreaker-but was always fun as a kid- to pierce her ears on a vacation when my sister was 8.
    So since my parents felt that was unfair to me, I got mine done for my next birthday…then since the flow had already started we did my youngest sisters too. But that was mostly because she insisted on wearing her haircut supershort and people always thought she was a boy. My parents hoped it would even out.
    For my niece the decision was made to have her practice taking care of her ears by gently washing them and getting some sticker earrings so she could show us she wanted to take care of them, with some help from mom and dad before she could get hers pierced. She ended up earning them as a Christmas gift and then all the family picked out a special pair of earrings from each person.
    I guess it just depends on each kiddo.

  • comment avatar Beckie May 6, 2010

    I just had the same experience not too long ago. My mom set the time for ear piercing at age 13. Then I could choose if I wanted them at that time. Of course I did get them pierced but as an adult I never wear them now. So with my daughter I will do the same. At age 13 it will be her choice. 13 just seems like a good age to me.

  • comment avatar Lauren May 6, 2010

    I’m 27 now, and I was supposed to be 12 when I got mine pierced. I ended up doing it with a friend a few months before, but I was almost 12.

  • comment avatar Danika Carter May 6, 2010

    My daughter is almost 4. Her dad and I have agreed that she can have them when she’s old enough to really understand what she’s asking for…the pain involved and the care needed to take care of them. She needs to be old enough to take care of them every day herself. I can’t say exactly what age that will be, but I’ve been assuming it will be around 9 or 10. That’s about the age I was when I got mine done and I took care of cleaning them myself. I’ll know for sure as she get older and I see how responsible she is. I do know I don’t think it’s right for me to do it because I want it. Not for an issue of vanity that involves pain. That needs to be her decision and one she makes when she’s mature enough to handle it.

  • comment avatar Vikki May 6, 2010

    I got my first piercing in 3rd grade and my second as a freshman in highschool. My daughter was 2nd grade. I think the time to pierce is after they are old enough to care for the piercing themselves and recognize if they are having a problem. I also think that a person should take their child to a professional piercing artist and not just any ole clerk at the local accessory store. I mean wouldn’t you want someone who is familiar with sterility rather than someone who may have only been trained to sell a product?

  • comment avatar Kari Newsom May 6, 2010

    I got mine pierced at 10 (bottom holes) and 12 (top holes). I think that’s just when we wanted them done as kids.

    As for my daughter – we had her ears pierced when she was 14 months because she didn’t know what was going on and that way there was no fear in her about getting it done and having it hurt. They did both ears at once and gave her a sucker and there was no crying or flinching. She never messed with her ears or earrings – and at 4.5 years old today- she loves being able to wear earrings, especially on special occasions when she likes the sparkly ones!

  • comment avatar Manisha May 6, 2010

    It’s a cultural thing with us and most babies have their ears pierced within a couple months of being born. Boys, too – although that practice has declined in modern times. My Dad’s ears were pierced but he did not wear any jewelry. Typically I would have liked to have had my daughter’s ears pierced within the same time frame but we wore traveling shoes at the time and were headed for the US from India. I was not enthusiastic about getting her teeny ears pierced by someone at the mall or a store. In India, there are doctors who do ear piercings but that might have changed with the advent of malls.

    Even though she was so little, my daughter was very clear she wanted her ears pierced. She had a doll with bright red LED earrings that would light up when she walked. She was just shy of 18 months when we returned to India and I took her to the nearest doctor who did ear piercings. She held on to her doll tightly and only cried when he missed the mark the first time. I wanted to point the piercing gun at him in a place that would hurt him forever! But, she was a determined little girl! I think the doctor was a little apprehensive as he had two of his nurses in the room! It’s probably easier with infants.

    The problem of scum and infection is not much of an issue as traditionally, every child gets gold rings that move freely, making it easy to clean. The ear lobe also heals very quickly so before the week was done with, you couldn’t even see where the doc had missed so badly.

  • comment avatar Toni Dannels May 6, 2010

    My Aunt Julie had mine done. I was young enough I only vaguely remember it. It wasn’t noticed much till I was a teenager. There were 1-2 people at church who weren’t fond of mom and I wearing jewelry and make-up and even contacts. We just shrugged it off as personal conviction.

    My girls were older when they had theirs done. I pretty much left it up to them. Although, I have to admit, my oldest has taken piercings to a whole other level.

  • comment avatar Jan May 6, 2010

    I was 16 in 1970 and my older sisters friend pierced my ears with a big sewing needle! They turned out just fine and I love my pierced ears til this very day…I never go out unadorned. As for my dear Mother, she followed and had her ears pierced soon afterward. I do not have a daughter.

  • comment avatar JoAnn May 6, 2010

    All great comments, ladies! Thanks for weighing in!! 🙂 Keep ’em comin’!

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz May 6, 2010

    We are coming on this time, too. I’m thinking 13th birthday, as a double milestone. So far, she’s accepting it. Woot!

    Good luck with Claire. She seems already mature enough for good ear care even at 4.

  • comment avatar Alison May 6, 2010

    Sometimes, I think that we as parents feel a need to control things that don’t really need to be controlled. We feel this way simply because society has bred us to do so. My mom made me wait until I was 12 and I don’t remember feeling any different after I had them done (I was not prettier, more confident or more happy), but I do remember completely not understanding why I had to wait until I was 12. These days, I am not a big make up or fancy person, but I feel naked without my earrings. I just like the added color, design, or whatever it may add. I really don’t think it would have made a difference had I had them pierced at age 4 or age 12.

  • comment avatar Andrea Lotton May 7, 2010

    Adie got her’s pierced over a year ago. She brought up the subject. I talked to her about what it involved and she was all for it. Unfortunately they only had one girl working so it was a “one ear at a time” thing. First ear went well but she was scared for the second one. Now, she LOVES her earings. She reminded me EVERY day to help her clean her ears. We did it at the same time she was brushing her teeth. It’s really not that hard to care for them. I say any age is a good age. I’m seriously thinking of getting baby #2’s pierced right away.

  • comment avatar Manda September 5, 2010

    I got my daughters ears pierced when she was 9 months old.
    Never have had any problems with them.
    She is about to be 5 years and already asking about getting a second set of holes in her ears.
    I have my nose and my tongue pierced. I have 3 holes in my right ear and 2 in my left, and the lowest in each ear is stretched quite large.
    My husband has both his ears pierced and we both have tattoos.

    My daughter is already planning to get her tongue pierced and her first tattoo at 16.
    I have said that it is perfectly fine, so long as she still wants it at that point.
    I am getting her 2nd set of earrings asap.

    • comment avatar Sarah August 5, 2013

      Hi manda how did she go with her 2nd set? My 6yo is asking now

  • comment avatar Sarah March 7, 2011

    1) I’m opposed to ear piercings at a young age b/c I have more friends than I can count who were pierced as infants and now have crooked holes.

    METHODS: Set, Setting, etc.
    2) My ears were pierced the first time by a 16 year old girl at a mall jewelry store. HUGE MISTAKE. She was inexperienced, and the equipment used (a piercing gun) naturally could not be fully sterilized. Messy, painful, but luckily relatively straight. Definitely risky.

    3) I recommend going to a doctor or piercing shop. Make sure that your location has an AUTOCLAVE which sterilizes things. The instruments used (typically hollow needles) are STERILIZED (unlike your cheap mall shop), sharper, and cause less stress/trauma on the body. From a personal standpoint, the use of hollow needles also resulted in less pain and infection. 🙂

  • comment avatar JoAnn December 8, 2013

    Just as a follow-up to this, Claire ended up getting them pierced for Valentine’s Day, after having turned 6 the November before. She never even flinched! She was awesome with ear-care, and we’ve not had any issues! 🙂