In rare form today, I’m stating my conclusion first:
I don’t think there is any one right time or age for your daughter to
get the first holes in her precious earlobes.  However, these
considerations and stories might help you make or refine your plan
about what is probably the most common request from daughters in
elementary school.

Several factors affect the decision about ear piercing. For example: 

  • What is your cultural background?  Many Latinas, for example, get
    their ears pierced when they are babies. 
  • How much are you willing to be involved with the pierced ear care
    and cleaning rituals?  The younger your child is, the more you’ll be
    involved (see my story about Brittany below). 
  • Do you see ear piercing as a given or as a privilege?  In other words,
    will you take your daughter for ear piercing for tradition’s or fashion’s
    sake, or will you give ear piercing as a reward for some other behavior
    you’d like to see?

My stepdaughter Brittany, at seven, begged to get her ears pierced. 
New in the role of stepmom and anxious to bond with her, we did a
girls’ outing at which I got my second holes while she braved the little
gun to get her first. Since we both had to clean and turn, we either did
it together or I was checking in a lot and she was keeping up.

She was doing so well that I lost the continuity of checking her little
ears for a few weeks.  One horrific day I discovered that her skin had
grown over the backs of her earrings.  She had not been turning them,
and they burrowed like leeches into her earlobes. I don’t think I’ll
forget extracting the metal from her swollen skin amidst her searing
screams of pain.

So one quick lesson about ear piercing is that if your daughter is not
yet managing her own hygiene in general, it is unlikely she will
properly or consistently manage cleaning and turning without help.  If
you’re not available to keep up with these tasks, then don’t pierce yet.

I can also share a few milestone-type approaches I’ve heard from
other moms:

  • When she can wash and dry her own hair on a regular basis, it will
    show she’s ready to self-manage her ears. 
  • We can talk about ear piercing when she’s able to keep her own
    room clean and picked up. (Just an observation:  Brittany did not get
    to this point until she was about 19, and she’s relatively neat!  That’s
    my only frame of reference on this matter)
  • When she’s a teenager she can decide if she wants to have pierced
    ears or not.

When did you, or did you ever, get your ears pierced?  I was 14.  I 
grew up on a swim club and was in the water so much that my
swimming friends and I didn’t have pierced ears at the top of our wish
lists.  (A new Lycra swimsuit was way more important at the time.)

Brittany, by the way, got her ears re-pierced when she was nine going
on ten.  She was determined to have it work this time, and I was
extremely attentive, so that was a no-fail combination.

It’s inevitable that your daughter is going to ask about pierced ears at
some point.  What are you going to say, and why?

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in
Northern Colorado.  For more information on her stepparenting book,
go to



Tags: ,

1 Comment on Mom, May I Get My Ears Pierced?

  1. skh says:

    My ideas on this topic reflect more on my feelings about girliness and individuality than parenting. While I love beads and baubles, my ears are not pierced. In addition, I enjoy those things but not the shopping for them. I am aware of the potential challenges with a daughter that may love these things that I do not. All that said, I will be most happy if we can postpone the overly image concious things that seem to appeal to many girls. Wearing earrings isn’t at all risque but the intense focus on outward appearances is a part of a loss of innocence that I don’t look forward to. The bigger question of where one’s affirmation comes from is important in considering the motivations for jewelry, clothing and make up.

    To answer your final question, “What will we say when she asks?” That depends. There will be an age below which earrings would be out of the question and requirement for some maturity, the hygiene component. Beyond that we’ll have a longer conversation about image and self confidence. However, our daughter so far prefers jeans and T-shirt so the question may never come up!

Leave a Reply