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Pet Peeve #84

I tend to dislike parents who pierce their infant's ears.

Explain to me why they can't allow their child to have some say-so over his, or, in most cases, her, body? Maybe he or she doesn't want pierced ears. What on earth would it hurt to wait until the child is old enough to make an autonomous decision? Even if the individual opts to let them heal over, there's still scar tissue there that didn't have to exist.

Outside of the ethical issues, why open your child up to the possibility of contact dermatitis, keloid formation, or possibly swallowing the earring? Don't babies have enough stuff to get through already? And I've read that infants have greater risk because their immune systems aren't fully developed yet.

I'm aware of the Hindu tradition on this, but on this one, I think practicality and the well-being of the child should take precedence over religious belief. Just because an action is steeped in tradition does not make it a just action. Sometimes tradition needs a swift kick in the butt with the boot of informed consent.

I say this as someone who made the conscious decision to get her ears pierced at around age 14 or so. The other immediate female members of my family do not have pierced ears. I think my mother was very wise to make me wait.

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
epicureanangel
Oct. 13th, 2005 01:38 am (UTC)
I got my ears pierced around the same age as you, and it was also my choice.

The only other reason that I've heard for doing it for a child was to spare them the pain of it when they're an adult. I did throw up after the procedure from a reaction to the pain, but it really wasn't so permanently traumatic that it required performing the procedure on a child who may not want it as an adult.
sailormur
Oct. 13th, 2005 01:56 am (UTC)
I think there are a lot of reasons. Kids, while having weaker immune systems, heal a LOT faster when they're babies. It's astonishing. Again, it's a pain they're not going to remember. I had mine done with I was 12, and my mom refused to go to a place with a gun so she asked my very bemused pediatrician to do it with syringe needles. I needed to lie down halfway through because the pain was making me faint. (My friend had to leave the room cause she didn't like seeing me with needles through my ears.) Also, there's the reason why people dress their children in designer clothes that the kids are going to ruin or grow out of, the reason they do their hair in a 'do that the kid will pull out immediately, and the reason they put babies in dresses. They think it looks good.

note that I haven't pierced my daughter's ears.
pointedview
Oct. 13th, 2005 02:10 am (UTC)
Okay, they heal faster, but why inflict something they have to heal from at all? And the hairdo and designer dresses don't generally pose a risk of infection or draw blood (unless the dress happens to be one of Jean-Paul Gaultier's spikier creations).

I just . . . if I had a child, I would respect his or her right to choose enough to outweigh my own preferences about appearance on something like that.
sailormur
Oct. 13th, 2005 02:15 am (UTC)
oh I'm not on their side, I'm with you. It's all her choice. There are people who do things, or don't do things, to their kids that I just don't understand. But lots of people are concerned - very concerned - with how their kids look. A VP at my former company would have his wife come by and show off how their infant son wore the same clothes as daddy. I wondered where they shopped and if it would be OK if I firebombed the place.
pointedview
Oct. 13th, 2005 02:19 am (UTC)
*laughs!* If you do firebomb the place, I promise I won't report ya. :)

Speaking of kids, did you read this?

Maybe they misunderstood the whole "It takes a village" concept and decided that it meant they needed to create a village of their own. :)
hokiegirl1
Oct. 13th, 2005 02:41 am (UTC)
I have to say that my parents were one of "those people". I got my ears pierced early on and i think it's a good and bad thing. I love that I never had to deal with fear of "oh my God, I'm so scared to get them pierced", that they never close up even if I haven't worn an earring in over 3 years, BUT I hate that because my ears grew they are too hight and small hoops don't look as good.
Anyway, I''m at odds whether I'd do it to my child. I really don't mind that my mom did it for me, I had ear infections so they told me, never swallowed or bothered with the earrings, but at the same time would never want to impose anything on my kids that they may potentiially may not like
pointedview
Oct. 13th, 2005 04:07 am (UTC)
Now, see, this is good. Thank you very much for responding, hokiegirl1. :)

I hadn't even considered the ear growth/proportion thing. So, it didn't bother you that you never had the option of knowing what it felt like to have non-pierced ears? Do you feel it affected your decision whether or not to have them pierced again? (For a time, it was fashionable to have double piercings and such.)

I appreciate hearing from someone who has been through it, and I hope I didn't make you or anyone else who has been through the experience feel uncomfortable. (Oh, and if I ever meet your parents, I promise I will be polite and keep my mouth shut. :) )
mumpish
Oct. 13th, 2005 11:37 am (UTC)
Interesting. I wonder if you feel the same about circumcision? Just in case you don't, can you let me know in advance? I'd like to bring popcorn to the raionalizaion.
pointedview
Oct. 13th, 2005 01:46 pm (UTC)
Ahead of you, I am! Talk like Yoda, I will! I was waiting for someone to mention this. :)

Unfortunately, I'm at work right now, so I can't Google something like that without the link getting blocked. However, from my reading last night, it's my understanding that it is possible to make a pro-circumcision case on medical grounds in terms of infection risk, and that the procedure is more problematic when it is done for adults. No such comparable case exists for ear piercing. In fact, from what I understand, it's almost the opposite: from what I read, one may reduce the risk of certain messy infections if the foreskin is removed, while one actually increases an infant's exposure to risk with an ear piercing. On the other hand, I know there are some schools of thought that indicate that the circumcision issue is more about cleanliness than anything else, and if you keep the area clean, you're fine, so then it really does become a cosmetic issue. Still, given that there is some bacterial accumulation there that has to be given special attention, there is at least a very small "best interest" advantage to it.

However, I will also be the very first to acknowledge that I do not have an owner's manual, as it were, on the circumcision issue. If you are able to provide more information on it that I do not have, please be my guest.

Unlike Portia's famous comment, ;) I don't think I've ever asked my male friends if they wish they'd had the choice, and if so, what that choice would have been.
lsbd33
Oct. 21st, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC)
katharine, you're right on the circumcision thing - it's better to circumcise as an infant, better blood circulation on day 8 (our rabbis somehow knew what they were doing...), and does prevent infections on the whole. as i do have a son, we know the research on the matter, it's more of a health issue for circumcision; whereas for ear piercing, it's an accessory.

i had my ears pierced when i was 7, along with my cousin, and my mother (who never had her ears pierced before then)...:)
goodjoan
Oct. 13th, 2005 11:58 am (UTC)
I got my ears pierced when I was 8. My sisters had to beg and my mom did them at home with a sewing needle and a cork and some ice. When I casually asked about it, standing outside a jewelry store that had free ear piercing, my dad saw his opportunity to NOT be a part of the horror, and he insisted my mom take me inside and let me do it! I was a little shocked that they didn't out up more resistance!

In any case, I wouldn't do anything to my kids bodies (short of medically necessary, obviously) that they couldn't 'un-do' if they wanted. So, skirting
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I got my ears pierced when I was 8. My sisters had to beg and my mom did them at home with a sewing needle and a cork and some ice. When I casually asked about it, standing outside a jewelry store that had free ear piercing, my dad saw his opportunity to NOT be a part of the horror, and he insisted my mom take me inside and let me do it! I was a little shocked that they didn't out up more resistance!

In any case, I wouldn't do anything to my kids bodies (short of medically necessary, obviously) that they couldn't 'un-do' if they wanted. So, skirting <ljuser=mumpish>'s question, with the exception of a couple of tonsils and adenoids, my kids still have all the parts god gave them! I figure god put them there for a reason, who am I to go lopping them off or putting holes in them? If they want to do it when they are older, more power to them, but it's their choice!
pointedview
Oct. 13th, 2005 09:38 pm (UTC)
Agreed on all counts. Your mom must have been fairly brave to take that on, especially if she'd never done it before!
goodjoan
Oct. 13th, 2005 10:38 pm (UTC)
Well, let's take a moment to reflect on the fact that my mother was an alcoholic, so her idea of a grand parenting moment may have been a bit flawed!
whats_er_name
Oct. 13th, 2005 06:38 pm (UTC)
As a person who just happened to stumble upon your LJ (Fellow Browncoat, here.), and one who was forced in her job to pierce infants, I agree. I worked as a manager at a Claire's boutique where we pierced ears as early as 2 months old.

The only way to pierce an infant's ears and get them in the correct spot without them moving mid-procedure is to have the parent hold them down. Their arms and head. Tight. Most babies cry just because of that.

When marking an infants' ears, you have to move the spot lower and farther away from, considering that your ears are one of the only facial features that grow as you do. Most parents fight with you on this. It doesn't 'look right' because it's not in the same spot as you would put for a teenager/adult. You can try to explain it to them, but you still get a few who make you change it. I feel sorry for their children.

The risks and complications are all signifigant. And in our particular boutique, all we had were the pointed studs with the locking clutch backs. Infants need screw on backings. The posts are so long if they accidentally get pushed on further on the stud, the backing will pierce an infants skin and skull easily when they lean on it.

I refuse to do the infant piercings after a few of them, and soon after quit my job. And believe me, I've dealt with my load of young girl (10-14 age range) who SCREAM out of fear. It's not a fun thing to do.. I'm glad my parents waited 'til I was much older, even if I did have to let them close and be re-pierced later.

Anyway, just dropping the two cents of a random stranger in the mix. ^^
pointedview
Oct. 13th, 2005 09:55 pm (UTC)
Hullo, my Browncoat sister! Thank you very much for stopping by. I always enjoy it when someone new stops by to freshen the place up a bit.

So, the parents hold their babies down and injure them by putting long, pointed metal posts in their ears? I don't blame you at all for quitting that job.

Thank you again for dropping by and sharing your first-hand experience.
wendersfan
Oct. 13th, 2005 08:49 pm (UTC)
The latest trend is getting your infant tattooed.
pointedview
Oct. 13th, 2005 10:00 pm (UTC)
For the love of little green bugs, do they not realize that this is not a little toy dollie they're playing dress-up with? This is a creature that will become sentient, open the refrigerator and claim there's nothing to eat when it's full of stuff that might possibly be good for them, ask for the car keys, and quite possibly resent the holy hell out of Mommy and Daddy for branding him or her with a permanent scar that would have to be removed with medical assistance.

*sigh*
lsbd33
Oct. 21st, 2005 05:54 pm (UTC)
being a mommy, i'd be afraid the little darling would swallow the earring...i know joel put everything he could find in his mouth as an infant (and still does...)
pointedview
Oct. 26th, 2005 01:51 am (UTC)
Me, too! If I had a child, that is. My first concern would be him or her swallowing something so small, pointy, and made of metal right off the bat.
lsbd33
Oct. 27th, 2005 12:22 am (UTC)
jenn's daughter pooped tinfoil once...
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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