Saturday, 22 October 2016

Do Your Ears Hang Low? - Infants, Kids & Ear Piercing...The Debate Part 2

This post is part 2 of the infant ear piercing debate and discusses while some people wanted to wait, and some thoughts on why others were glad they didn't.  To read part 1 about the benefits for piercing an infant's ears click here.

A parent child moment

I decided I wanted to get my ears pierced when I turned 9-years-old. My mom and dad bought this for me as my birthday present, including a pair of good quality sapphire like stone keeper earrings to avoid infection. I wanted the earrings for about a year before I got them, so I was ready to take my new responsibilities seriously, plus I was old enough that I wanted to be “brave” through the pain. It hurt a little bit, but the pain wasn’t too bad. I held my mom’s hands while I was pierced, and then we went out for ice cream afterwards to celebrate. It was such a nice, small bonding moment that this is something I’d like to share with my own daughter when she gets her ears pierced. I was happy to have the choice and the experience.

This is one of the first pictures of me in existence wearing earrings...I believe these are parrot ones...and I know what you are thinking, why isn't this adorable child with her eyes perpetually half-closed not a catalogue model?

Keep in mind daycare regulations

When I saw the waivers that I would have to fill out at daycare for a child with earrings should they accidentally get pulled out it cemented my decision not to pierce my daughter’s ears. Kids get into things and I didn’t want to deal with an earring getting caught in hair or being pulled out by my daughter, her brother, or another child at the daycare facility. For those who want to pierce their child’s ears they may want to mitigate this procedure with the risks associated with earring holes being torn or earrings getting lost. By selecting earrings that are small in size (well suited to the age of the child), and as flat to the ear as possible you can minimize any potential loss or tears. Dangling earrings are not recommended as not only is it easier for baby to pull them out, but also because they present a choking hazard. Even so many daycares ban children wearing jewelry altogether as the items can get tangled, lost, broken or pose a choking hazard for children.

There may be social shaming

Since there is some controversy surrounding ear piercing, infants’ parents with young children who have pierced ears may experience some unwelcomed commentary, questions or criticism from others. Christina discovered how strongly people felt about infant piercing early, she says, “It's amazing how much hate there is online. I did a couple of searches to see if there were any recommendations for a good place to get a baby's ears pierced and would see people attacking the person asking the question. It was filled with ‘why would you mutilate your baby, why wouldn't you wait until they could choose on their own, you're a horrible mother for putting you baby through unnecessary pain’. Ultimately I didn't pay any attention and had them pierced when they were 6 months old.” Michelle says, “We get comments sometimes about the girls having their ears pierced so young but I feel like we made the right decision for them - their experiences were way better than mine and we make sure that they are wearing very small earrings that suit little girls. They never change the earrings themselves or anything like that - they wear the same ones for a long time before we change them. They feel special when we change their earrings.”

Thoughts on growth and ear symmetry

Sometimes it’s not a matter of tradition, but a matter of practicality when it comes to making a decision as to when to pierce a child’s ears. Katie had her daughter wait until she was 11-years-old before getting her ears pierced. Katie says, “What I know from working in the tattoo industry and very closely with many piercers is that the ear lobe continues to grow as the child does. This growth, combined with elasticity in parts of the cartilage, combined with gravity causes changes in the ears. The piercers have noticed that girls that had their ears pierced when they were infants often had non- symmetrical holes or holes that were lower on their earlobes than the ‘ideal’ placement.”

A chance to allow your child to be responsible

As children get older, giving them more responsibilities like chores, choices over their own clothes or self-care for newly pierced ears just makes sense. Katie says that age and maturity was an important factor in allowing her daughter to pierce her ears, “I wanted to make certain that she had full intention of being responsible for maintaining her health and not lose a $200 pair of earrings. We are pretty snobby about earrings in general and wanted her to wear quality jewelry that wouldn’t cause infection. This meant no nickel plated or dangly inferior quality stuff, and no belly button or nose piercings until after 16 (hopefully she gets a driver's licence instead).”

The number of averages

A lot of parents will wait until their child asks them to get their ears pierced before taking the child to get a piercing. A recent poll conducted by Compare Jewelry found that about half of the population of UK girls have their ears pierced, with the average age of piercing by 7-years-old. This average is six years younger than just a few generations ago, the parents of kids today were usually around 13 years old when they had their ears pierced. Miriam Kaufman, a paediatrician at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto in an interview with Today’s Parent suggested that caregivers unsure as to whether or not a child is ready for the maintenance of ear piercing give them another regular chore before okaying that pair of new studs. Kaufman gave an example for parents to explore with the kids, “‘(Tell your child) I want to see you brush the dog (or clear the table) twice a day for three weeks, without me reminding you.’ And then at the end of the trial you can say, ‘That’s great, you did it’ or ‘You know what, honey, you only did it for the first three days. You would have infected ears — you’re not ready for this.’"

To read part 1 click here.

Stay tuned for part 3 (the conclusion).

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