Your daughter has announced that she's getting a piercing. Depending on her age this may not be as easy as she thinks. Our issue arose when our daughter was around 16. This is how we talked through the issue.
So your daughter wants a piercing. Initially my first reaction was a strong No. But I told her that I would do some research and then decide. Here's some questions I came up against.
1. How long has she been thinking about it and why?
2. Does school allow it?
3. Choosing the piercing salon
4. Where is the chosen piercing to be?
5. Can the piercing hygiene be managed effectively?
This is a big decision as a parent because once you agree, there's always the possibility of being asked to allow another and another.
You need to be sure that it is something you are good with 100%. Here's how we came to an agreed compromise that everyone was happy with.
How long has she been thinking about it and why?
You need to be sure that we're not just on a whim or a fad. A hole in your skin is not something to take lightly.
So we asked our daughter how long she had been considering the piercing. When she decided that she would like a piercing why did she want it?
Was it just because all of her friends had one. We always try to encourage her to be an individual, so following the crowd just wasn't going to cut it as a reason. It had to be a little deeper.
Her answer was somewhat impressive. She said she had been thinking about it for awhile. She had been quite anxious about how much it might hurt but was now prepared for the pain.
That she didn't want fear to hold her back in anything she wanted or desired and so wanted to overcome that barrier and go through with the piercing.
I thought this was quite a mature outlook and so I agreed to look into it further.
Does school allow it?
As with every new thing that is suggested or introduced in our house if it's not allowed in school, well that's the end of the discussion.
The school's rules are not always my rules but they need to be followed if my kids are to stay out of the spotlight in school.
We checked with school and discovered that if it is discreet, then it is allowed. Lip, nose or brow piercings were not allowed but ear cartilage (helix, tragus, snug) and lobe piercings were allowed.
My daughter thought that this was great, she could just go after school and get it done. It's not as simple as that I'm afraid.
Piercing on a minor (under 18) is not allowed in practically all US states. She needed parental consent and most places require parent / guardian to be present with valid ID at the time of piercing.
Which to me was fantastic, because it meant that I got to choose where she was going to get it done. Which leads to my next question.
Where is a safe place?
If I am going to purchase anything major or important, I always will do some research. The best place to start is usually the internet.
I checked out where in our neighborhood was doing piercing. I check to see if they have any reviews, both good and bad. How long have they been in business?
As with all businesses, if they have been around for a while well then we can assume they know what they are doing. I selected 3-4 salons.
The best judge is you. Go and visit each salon. If it doesn't look clean, leave immediately. Don't feel obliged to stay just because you have an appointment.
If it passes the general hygiene look over, then ask to meet with the piercer. Ask how long have they been a piercer? Are their needles single use only? What are the risks involved?
Again a couple of the places we visited looked okay but I just didn't like the look of the piercer. At the end of the day, this was my daughter's ear and I needed the procedure done as hygienically as possible.
Most piercers are not what you want to see when you are thinking of your daughter getting a piercing, as they probably have everything pierced and also tattooed.
We finally chose a place that was very clean and sterile and ultimately went with my gut instinct.
Where is the chosen piercing to be?
So we had selected a salon. She had decided that she was going to get a Helix piercing. She thought it was going to be like a lobe piercing. But really this is not the case.
Lobe is soft skin but cartilage is a little thicker and harder to get through. A couple of her friends had a cartilage piercing so I advised her to have a chat with them and get a sense of how painful it was going to be. (Cos it's definitely going to hurt!)
Other piercings need to be given careful consideration as they come with different kinds of problems.
Tongue piercing can chip tooth enamel. Lip and tongue piercing are generally always moist and so can lead to a build up of bacteria, which can lead to infection. Belly piercing can get caught on clothing, and nose and brow piercings can get caught on towels or clothing when drying or dressing.
These are just to be aware of on a fairly basic level but on a more serious level and the final point that we looked into was the taking care of the piercing afterwards.
Can they manage the piercing hygiene?
My daughter is always very clean. Showering and washing of hair seemed to be every time I looked at her.
But looking after a piercing was different. It was after all a wound and had to be treated accordingly. Post piercing, the site must be cleaned with saltwater at least twice a day.
This must be continued until the hole is healed and this could take anything up to 4-6 months, if not longer. A piercing could be fine for weeks and then suddenly go crusty.
My daughters was fine and then she caught it in a pullover and it became infected. Continuing with extra saltwater bathing brought it back under control but a careful eye needs to be kept on it so a larger infection doesn't develop.
So the outcome for our daughter getting a piercing was yes we allowed it. But it wasn't a decision that I made quickly or without in depth research and discussion.
As I said at the start I knew once she had one she would want another.
She is now 18 and I don't have any control on the outcome but I hoped the first piercing process would benefit her in her choices.
I tried to advise her on how she will ultimately look. She has her nose and her helix and her tragus now pierced.
It's all very well how she looks now. She's in college and no one cares what you look like or what you wear.
But she needed to be mindful of how she was going to appear to future prospective employers. Even jobs that are temporary or summer jobs.
We only get one chance to make a first impression. I wanted hers to be a positive one.
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Tara Cunningham is a Mum and Graphic Designer. My children's education has always been very important to me. I feel that if you are willing to put in the time they will appreciate the effort.
I hope that you find our thoughts and ideas useful and interesting.