It’s a parents responsibility to make sure that their children never come to harm or make silly choices in life that they may one day regret – but what happens when you agree with the choices that your children make? What happens when a parent is pro-piercing when their child asks for another earring?
We discuss of course…
At the ripe old age of 31 I recognise that the world has changed considerably since I was a child. First of all, we were children and not young-adults like those who are growing up in the world today.
Everything was more innocent, naive and vulnerable back when I was a child, so children were far more protected. My parents refused all of my requests for piercings, hair dye or funky clothes because I was a girl and it wasn’t suitable, yet my brother who is only a year older than me was free to experiment as he wished – a shocking double standard.
My parents are wonderful people and I’m blessed to be their daughter, but they never understood or experienced tattoos and piercings, so their reasoning of “you can’t do it because we say so” seemed to have no real reason to me at all and I found it very unfair. No explanation, no lesson to take away from it, just an uninformed, unexperienced “no” which only served to make me all the more curious and defiant.
I eventually had my ears pierced at the age of 11yrs and felt miles behind the other children at my school, some of which had had their ears pierced as babies or even toddlers. It made me realise as a parent that it’s not the pace that you set in life for your babies to grow up, but the pace of society and what is socially normal and acceptable if you want them to keep up with their peers.
Naturally, I’m not saying you should do something dangerous or unreasonable just because other people do it. Moreso if it’s acceptable for others then it’s acceptable for you should you decide that it’s the right time and individual choice to do so. If I had my way my children would be young, innocent and emotionally available for the rest of their lives but I’m all too aware that teenagers happen.
Fast forward to today and my daughter is now 11yrs old and her maturity, life experiences and open access to information puts her more at the mental stage that I was at when I was sixteen. Children just aren’t children anymore, they’re young adults so rather than protecting them with “no, because I said so” prehistoric instructions, I believe a better way to handle questions and requests is to share information about life experiences and weigh up the pro’s and con’s to come to an informed decision together.
I had 21 piercings in total between the age of 11yrs and 17yrs during a rebellious stage in my life where I felt suffocated, overprotected compared to my peers and unfairly babied. Yet today I wear just three small stud earrings in each ear and have taken all of my other piercings out – a being there, done that, got the t-shirt resolution to life’s earlier injustices.
So when my daughter Millisent asked for her first piercing at the age of 6yrs I instantly thought of how sweet all of the other girls in her class looked with their sparkly flowers and hearts studs and how happy she would be to have a special pair of earrings too. She was fantastic during the piercing, didn’t flinch or make a peep and was nothing but smiles and positivity throughout the healing and aftercare – the perfect child.
At the age of 11yrs Millie asked during the summer holidays if she could have a second set of earrings pierced so that she could wear two studs in each ear and this time I paused for thought. Yes, her first piercing was a great success and she healed perfectly and has always taken care of her hygiene and accessories which she adores. But a second piercing? Did she really need it?
The summer holidays are notorious for children having their ears pierced because it allows for six weeks of healing and recovery before returning to school for the new year – enough time for the piercing to heal and be taken out during school hours. The current school policy is a single stud earring in each ear which means that Millie can keep her second stud earrings in and remove her original first studs whilst at school without breaking the uniform rules – this is what most children do.
With Millie’s politeness, maturity and consideration for others I found it easy to agree with her request for a second ear piercing, yet reminded her that I’d taken out fifteen of my own piercings that I simply grew out of the phase. The hole from an earring is so small and discreet, should Millie decide one day to remove and never replace her piercing it will not have a big impact on her everyday life or appearance to be left with a second earring hole.
Feeling just as excited as Millie, we headed into town to Claires Accessories, a hightstreet fashion accessory store where she originally had her ears pierced at the age of six and had a very good experience.
Millie was able to choose her earrings first for which she picked a small silver stud so that she could continue to wear earrings in her first holes without them getting in the way or looking mismatching. Silver is her favourite colour and she always has Sterling Silver to prevent irritation, allergy or infection from cheap metals.
A friendly member of staff then talked us through the procedure, gave me paperwork to complete as her parent and marked a dot on each ear to indicate where the piercing would be so that we could check the height and placement in a mirror. Two, or even three, piercings can fit onto the ear lobe which is the soft and squishy part of the ear that can be pierced with a gun, anything above this will be into cartilage which is considerably more painful to pierce.
All the while Millie sat on a stool feeling very special and grown up awaiting her piercing. I noticed her getting nervous the closer the piercing got, so the piercer talked through breathing techniques to keep people still and calm throughout which Millie did and sat perfectly still. Within seconds her ears were pierced and she didn’t make a peep – just as before.
I’m thrilled with how well she has responded to having her second piercing and she’s already counting down the days until she can change her earrings for some of the hundreds of pretty jewellery pieces that she has in her collection. From earrings passed down from her grandparents to special birthdays and treats, Millie takes great care of and pride in her treasured possessions.
Having had Millie at the age of 19yrs, our relationship as mother and daughter is very much a friendship too which has given Millie the ability to speak openly and communicate freely with me without feeling judged. Had I have been another ten or so years older before becoming a parent I may not have been as open and understanding as I am now as the generation gap certainly plays a part in establishing acceptable boundaries.
I feel that the best way to deal with the many requests that children make throughout life, whether it be for a pony, mobile phone, piercing or even a dubious item of clothing is to weigh up the pro’s and con’s for each individual instance. Understand how the rest of society behaves towards it, ask yourself if you have experienced it and whether it was positive or negative for you and recognise that times change and fashions move forwards. What was normal for us may be abnormal for our children because time moves as a rapid pace.
As I suspected, Millie has kept her ears beautifully clean, wiping them with the cleansing lotion and twisting them daily to assist in healing. She beams from ear to ear when she shows her friends and family and feels very mature and responsible for having such a special treat during the summer holidays.
Rather than telling children that they’re “too young and not allowed” something, we should learn to praise their achievements, positive traits and actions and listen to what they would like as a reward for their efforts. I’ve come to realise that children are not as fragile, scared and incapable as we may think, in fact they flourish and grow the more you allow them to explore, experience and become capable in life.
At the age of 11yrs I still watched cartoons in my pyjamas all weekend and very much relied on my parents to feed, clothe and take care of me 24/7. At the age of 11yrs Millie can operate the washing machine, cook a dinner unassisted, catch the train to school, manage her pocket money, take responsibility for the feeding and cleaning of her pets, research and learn new skills online and study independently outside of school; a sign of the times!