My oldest daughter recently had a birthday. I thought I would blog about all the prep that goes into a birthday party, all the unnecessary crap we think we have to do for one, and how to decide which kids to invite. (I learned my lesson when she turned four and inivted everyone she wanted to come. We had 16 little 4-year-old princesses running around my basement, and I am NEVER doing that again). Anyway, we do parties every other year (on their "even" birthdays, because, well, I am not that motivated to do this constantly, and, also, birthday parties are WAY more expensive than they look.) But even though you think you're reading a post about birthday parties, it's just a myth. Switch gears to the gift of gifts: Earrings. Pierced earrings. My daughters do not have pierced ears. They are six and four. Once again, the cry of "When can we pierce our ears?" was heard throughout the house. I have always told my kids that they can pierce their ears when they are twelve years old. They have always accepted this. There has been grumbling, but acceptance. After all, twelve is the "golden age" - the age where you can ride in the front seat, because, magically, airbags know when you are twelve and stop being deadly, the age when you are old enough to babysit, (5 is NOT old enough, contrary to what my oldest will tell you)and the age where Primary is officially a memory. (Not that they're looking forward to that one. They love Primary). But then, nobody has ever given them heart-shaped earrings with flowers painted on them before. It would be a crime not to wear them. *insert whiny voice here* "WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY do we have to be twelve?????" Why indeed? I asked myself this question, and truly, the major reason I could come up with was, "Because that's how old I had to be. Suffer like I did." Of course, I didn't tell my kids this. I told them it was because of infections, and caring for the ears, etc. But mostly, it was the rule, and that was that. They grumbled, but are prepared to SAVE these earrings for the next 6-8 years, for when they are old enough to wear them. And if you think that'll happen, well, then, you've never had kids. By the way, the woman who gave us the earrings was mortified that our girls did not have pierced ears. She felt awful. She pierced her daughter's ears when her daughter was but a wee lass, and thought everyone did the same. Never mind that my girls were incredibly happy to see the earrings, it did not make her feel better. Is there a right answer here? What is the appropriate age in which to put holes in earlobes? Am I being too strict in reliving my mother's old rule? The way I see it, I have a hard enough time keeping track of my own earrings, I don't want to have to try to find theirs constantly, as well. And I can just see the future meltdowns when the correct earrings aren't found for the correct outfit. Or, horror of horrors, when just one is found. Why add that stress into my life? But maybe, it will help teach them responsibility for their things, or proper ear hygiene, or something like that. Or, maybe I know nothing.


Anonymous Vanessa said...

I had to wait until I was 16. Waiting until they're 12 is actually pretty reasonable, especially for all the reasons you mentioned. It's not selfish at all to wait until they're independent enough to take care of themselves.

5/17/2005 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm making my daughter wait until she's twelve also. It's the age when I got to choose if I wanted them pierced.

I wish I could be of more help but my daughter doesn't have any friends that have pierced ears so she's not complaining about it yet. Once she starts school though, I'm expecting that all to change.

5/17/2005 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

I took my daughter to get her ears pierced when she was 6 years old. Boy, was she the envy of the first grade!

I made my stepdaughter, who I raised, wait till she was 12, and was a lot stricter with her. Now she's tattooed all over and pierced in a lot more places than ears. She is not active in the church and smokes and drinks.

My younger one, who got her ears pierced at 6, is now 19. She had two earrings in one ear, but when the prophet said to only have one, she took that sucker right out. She is faithful and sweet (except for the part where I have to live with her).

I don't think getting their ears pierced is inherently sinful. At all. Vanessa has a point about taking care of themselves, but I don't regret having my daughter's ears pierced early.

I regret being so rigid that my stepdaughter didn't feel loved and chose to act out in such destructive ways. The bigger deal I made about stuff, the more attractive it got and the more important it got.

5/17/2005 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger the special one said...

My parents made us wait until we were 12 also, and while when I was younger I made a big deal about them making me wait soooo long. But I actually didn't get them done until I was 14 (my choice). And of course now I rarely ever wear them anymore. My husband and I have already discussed it and our daughter will also have to wait until she is 12. I have friends who are having their daughters ears done at like 3 months, and that just seems really young, but hey that’s their choice as parents. I think that what ever age you decide on is perfectly acceptable. I have a friend who has never had them done, because her parents wouldn’t allow her to when she was growing up, she’s almost 30, but she is perfectly happy with wearing clip-ons.

5/17/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

In my family (of 7 girls) we all had to wait untill 8th grade graduation to get our ears pierced. My mom has told us it was her attempt to keep us from growing up too fast, too young. It was exciting to look forward to pierced ears and getting a "graduation" gift of earrings AND going to highschool. We had to wait to shave our legs untill we turned 12. It seemed like making us wait on the leg shaving was a bigger deal than the earrings. One of my sisters in particular was especially aggressive at trying to get the age to shave moved down, but alas, she's now a fun hippy-chick and hasn't shaved her legs in years!

While I like earrings, I don't wear them often. I am sure we'll have our daughter wait until at least 12 to get her ears pierced because it makes sense that she would be old enough to learn to care for and keep track of them herself.

5/17/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Amy Lynn said...

There were 7 girls in our family and we all had to wait until we were 12...also the magic age for getting to wear your first pair of hose (can you believe that was EVER an event to look forward to?), go to junior high, and enter YW. Now that I have a daughter, no ear piercing until 12 either...mostly because I will have no part in the daily ear cleaning, earring losing, and don't they have to have a certain degree of fine motor skills to even get those things in and fastened?? I still can't do it very smoothly so maybe the magic age isn't until 35!

5/17/2005 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I've also told my daughters they have to wait until they're 12. And I'm surprised it's not more of an issue with them, since EVERYONE down here has their ears pierced early on. I could also come up with lots of allergy/sensitivity issues (especially since it runs in the family), but my reasoning is that I think it looks trashy on younger kids.

A great way to cure them of wanting their ears pierced is to let them watch someone else get theirs pierced. Usually, that'll do the trick. Worked for my oldest when she really really really wanted hers done.

5/17/2005 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

As weird as this may sound, the subject of this post is something that I feel very passionately about.
The piercing issue in my family begins with my grandmother (on my mother's side). She thought that ear piercing was a defilement to the temple of our body. She died when my mother was only twenty, but out of respect, my mother never did pierce her ears. So when it came to me and my 5 sisters, somehow the subject of piercing was not just about age and responsiblity, it was directly linked to love and respect. Most of my sisters had to wait until they were 18 and out of the house. Because I was the last, I think my mom was just plain tired of fighting the battles, so I got mine pierced at 14 (and I knew she always hated them). Even though I "got my way", I still remember the biggest fights my mother and I had were about earrings and ear piercing from way before I was 14 all the way until I was 18 and came home from college with a fiancee and a couple new holes in each ear. I had never seen her so upset (and I can assure you that it had nothing to do with me being 18 and engaged). All she could see were the earrings--and how I must of done it because I didn't love her. She spoke about 5 words to me the whole weekend and about the same to my new fiancee (who is now my dh).

All I could think about that weekend was how these stupid little earrings had undone everything good thing I had ever done as a daughter--in my mother's eyes.

The bottom line is that all the fights my mother and I had over earrings sorely affected our relationship from the time I was about 8 until I was 20. And in my half-crazy mind (I am my mother's daughter) I felt the only way to not let that happen to me and my daughter was to get her ears pierced at four months old. I know this thinking is totally flawed, because if there isn't one thing to fight about, there is another. I just hope that is turns out to be about something that is far less arbitrary.

5/17/2005 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger dede said...

I was forced to wait until I was 12 as well (do they take Mormon women aside and tell them that is the age?), and because of that, I swore I wouldn't do make my daughters wait. I allowed them to get their ears pierced when they wanted to.

Both of them asked at about the age of 4, both got pierced, that lasted about 6 months, when they were sick of taking care of them and I let the holes close up.

My first daughter asked again at the age of 10. That was a much better experience. She was old enough to know it was something that she wanted and she was old enough to take care of them.

My second daughter, who is now 6, wants to pierce hers again. I have said she will have to wait until I have deemed her old enough to "handle the responsibility".

My point, you ask? Why are we so rigid about dates? Is piercing of ears such a big deal in the grand scheme of things? I don't think so.

5/17/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Susan M said...

I think I had to wait until I was 12. My family is not LDS, but my dad was very anti-ear piercing. When I'd whine and needle about it the age would go up. "You have to wait till you're eighteen." "EIGHTEEN???" "Did I say eighteen? I meant twenty-one." My mom just took me when I was 12 without telling my dad, I think.

Anyway, I guess thinking about it now, I feel like a person should be old enough to make that decision for theirself (themself?) before having it done. And that age doesn't have to be set in stone. My daughter's never had hers pierced, never been interested in having them pierced.

I stopped wearing earrings when my kids were born. If I wore them, they got yanked out. How do you keep your babies from yanking their own out? My kids wouldn't even wear hats.

5/17/2005 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

"How do you keep your babies from yanking their own out?"

I think the key not having babies yank out their own earrings is getting them done really early - before 6 months. After that, depending on your child, you should probably wait until they are much older.

My daughter is now 2 1/2 and has never bothered with them because they have always been a part of her.

5/17/2005 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Wow, Carrie, this is really an issue for you. How funny that something as simple as pierced ears has become such a symbol in your family. I know we all have arguments like that -about 'topics' vs. 'issues' - in your family it's talking about earrings instead of respect.

I do agree that the bigger deal I make of it, the bigger deal it will become. Because really, it's not a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, unless it becomes a symbol for something else, as in Carrie's family.

For now, they are content to wait, and I don't want to change the rule in midstream. I just wonder if I should have made the rule in the first place.

5/17/2005 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

I am one who thinks little babies look really cute with their ears pierced.

Like I said, I no longer think it's a big deal, but I think that idea of making the kids watch it happen might discourage them effectively. Never thought of that.

5/17/2005 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

My mom made me wait until I was 12, and I remember my friend in elementary school saying, "You are like, the ONLY one in the school without pierced ears!" I was mortified and miserable, and overjoyed when I finally got my ears pierced.

Looking back, I really don't think there would have been much harm in me getting them when I was 10 versus 12. But I do think that waiting until a more appropriate age than 6 allows kids to appreciate the earrings more, and certainly then you won't have be the one swabbing the ears and twisting the studs, which in and of itself is reason to wait. Who wants to be in charge of a 6 year old's ears? Not me, thanks.

5/17/2005 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

On a side note, I got my right ear double pierced in college with a girlfriend. I went out on a date that night with some nerdy boy, and he said, "Hey, you got your ear double pierced." Feeling slightly self-conscious about it, I said, "Yeah, just today. What do you think?"

He looked at me, cocked his head, and said, "You look a bit asymmetrical. What's the point of it, anyway?"

I blushed, and mumbled something about high fashion. He shrugged, and we continued our date.

That week, I took out the double earring, thinking that the nerdy boy was right. 5 years later, I married him.

5/17/2005 07:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Sue M said...

I agree with Dede - wait until they are old enough to take care of the holes properly. Other than that, who cares? Earrings aren't sexual. They aren't a sign of maturity. They are just decoration.

I think it is cruel to make a girl wait until the age of 12 to shave her legs, if she has very hairy legs. I remember getting mercilessly teased about this on the playground in FIFTH grade. I stopped wearing shorts, dresses - anything that would show my legs. Leg shaving is again, not an issue of sexuality. It's an issue of fitting in, and hey, why make life harder than it needs to be?

5/17/2005 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

I totally agree about the leg shaving. I made my older daughter wait, but my younger one, she just did it. She didn't ask, she just started doing it. She survived.

I didn't mean to put my older daughter through anything, though. I was trying to do the right thing. It's really hard to be a mom.

5/17/2005 11:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Sue M said...

Definitely hard - I can't wait to hear my daughter tell me, in 20 years, all of the ways I scarred her emotionally, without meaning to. Sigh.

5/18/2005 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Leaving aside care-taking questions, or even the old enough arguments, I think I like the idea of making 12 something special. You get to go into Young Womens, you (probably) start your period around there (though not so much any more; it usually comes earlier), you begin making the transition into being a woman. I like the idea of tying ear piercing to that... take your daughter out for an afternoon, chat about the upcoming changes, get her ears pierced, etc. Make the transition something memorable. It might help with all the awkwardness later on.

I just thought of that yesterday. Sounded good to me.

5/18/2005 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

Those who responded about leg shaving. I mentioned my mom's reasoning that she put these limits on us because she didn't want us to grow up too fast. She saw leg shaving as a womanly activity and felt it was too mature of a thing for little girls to be doing. It wasn't regarding anything sexual, it wasn't mean spirited to taunt us with, and it was not done to intentionally stunt our socialization by making us subject of playground teasing. It was just her way of trying to keep us little girls for a little longer in a world where people grow up too fast. I think moms have a hard job and they do the best they can to try to protect their kids and let them be kids during their childhood. Good luck to all of us for having to make these calls in our own families!! :)

5/18/2005 03:05:00 PM  
Anonymous wbpraw said...

I originally told my daughter she had to be that magic age of twelve as well, but got shot down when her two favorite cousins/best friends had theirs done at 6. I gave in with the thinking that there would be many other battles to fight that are much more important. (By the way, after the big to do about it, she hardly wears earrings because she loses them all the time which means I always have something to tell people what to get for her b-day.)
Fast forward to age 11. How old to shave legs? Twelve. Why? Because you are a little girl with blonde hair that doesn't show. All my friends do and they make fun of me! I'm not your friends' mom, I'm your mom. Enter my cousin, you know shaving isn't rebelling. Ding, Ding, Ding!!! Okay, hon, let's compromise - 11. YEAH!!! Mom, how old do I have to be to get contacts?
I can't keep having these age discussions so I'm now trying to weigh what is important to my daughter versus what I feel is appropriate for her not her age. (Although no dating 'till 16 is non-negotiable and believe me it's already come up. Yeah, that's right she's 11.)
So, Wiz --- pierce her ears for Christmas or something, the swabbing's not that big a deal. But give number 2 something to look forward to though, or number 1 will never forgive you!!

5/18/2005 10:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Ophelia said...

Well, here the magic age is whenever they get their periods. Marvelous idea that. It is 1) not in my control 2) they're old enough to take care of them 3) it made the whole period thing much more positive -- kind of a rite of passage.

I remember when my oldest came to me and said -- 'I get to have my ears pierced now.' Wow! Congratulations! So, I took her down and she picked out the earsing and didn't flinch at all. Oh, and her Daddy bought her flowers. All in all, a good day.


5/22/2005 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

I have been seeing that big NO all over the place and wondering if I'm missing something (I was), what was up with this no?

Just figured it out. I crack myself up.

5/23/2005 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Scone said...

I think all these things should really be based on practical considerations. If you're willing to watch someone poke holes in your baby's ear and then take care of the ears until she's old enough, then commit to that and do it. Or if not, wait until you think your daughter can take care of her own ears/earrings. My niece got them done at 10 and is doing great. I had to wait until 16, and even then I don't think I was completely ready. But that's just me. Who else would sleep in long curly things that'll hurt like the dickens and get stuck anyway? A couple years later, I got a second set of holes and did just fine. I have to admit that I was disappointed to hear the counsel not to wear multiple pairs of earrings, but that's another matter.

5/27/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger marci said...

Actually, a recent study in the May issue of Pediatricsfound that it is healthier to pierce earlier--before 11. It says:

Ear piercing done before the age of 11 might actually be better for health and cosmetic reasons, said study author Dr. Joshua E. Lane, an assistant professor at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Ga. He conducted the research while at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

In a survey, those who had ear piercings done at age 11 or older were much more likely to develop keloids -- unsightly scar-like growths that occur at a site of an injury -- than those who had the piercing done before when they were younger.

Here is a link to the whole article:

5/30/2005 01:14:00 PM  

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