How Old Before They Can Decide?

earsMy girl child is six today.

Happy Birthday, Tiny!

But that’s not really the point of this post. No, this is more of a rant. See, I got into an argument with a friend last night, because I told him I was getting my daughter’s ears pierced for her birthday.

Now, I wanted to get them pierced when she was a baby, but my husband didn’t, so we agreed that when she was old enough to ask to have it done and old enough to take care of them, we’d let her. From my own personal experience, I wanted to have my ears pierced as a child for as long as I could remember, and my mom was willing to let me, but my dad said I couldn’t until I was 13. So, year after year, I would beg and he would say no, and my sister and I would go through our mom’s earrings and say, “When I get my ears pierced, I’m going to wear those!” and so on. Finally, when I was 12, my mom convinced my dad to relent and let me get them pierced a year ahead of schedule, so he took me for my birthday. It was the best day ever. (My dad signed the parental consent form as “Batman,” but that’s an entirely different story.)

Anyway, I always remembered those years of torture, wanting to have it done and not being allowed to, and I did not want to do that to my daughter, especially because I can’t think of a single good reason to wait that long. In my opinion, pierced ears on a little girl are a fairly harmless, socially acceptable form of decoration. And six is, in my opinion, old enough to decide if that’s something she wants.

Might she regret it later? Possibly, but it seems unlikely. It’s not like a tattoo of Justin Bieber or something that she’ll outgrow and wish she hadn’t stupidly done later in life. Might they get infected? Sure. That happens. But that’s why they give you the antibiotic fluid and instructions on how to clean them. Might she end up allergic to certain types of metals? Of course that’s a possibility, at which point we can invest in earrings that work for her or let the piercings close. Barring the possibility that she gets in a bar fight and has her earrings ripped out, there’s no real, lasting danger involved in getting pierced ears, and given that she’s six, she doesn’t spend a lot of time in bar fights yet, so I’m banking on that not being a big problem.

Anyway, my friend disapproves. Which is fine. He’s welcome to his opinion. Where I have a problem, though, is when he decided it wasn’t his opinion, it was fact, and I shouldn’t let her do anything she wants just because she wants to, that’s like saying I’d let her have pot if she wanted it, and he’s logical but I’m not.

Here’s a condensed (some of the ruder things he said to me personally are removed) version of how our conversation went:

Me: Did I tell you I’m getting her ears pierced for her birthday?

Him: No, you didn’t. She wants that?!
Me: Yep

Him: Kind of young.

Me: Perhaps. But it is her choice.
Him: I mean, someday…but right now, she’s wait, like four?
Me: I’m not making her do it. She wants to.
No, she’s turning six.
Him: Oh, so if she wants to smoke pot, that’s OK? lol
Me: Seriously? How is this in any way comparable to smoking pot?

Him: YOU made the point that “she wants it” and I just made the point that it doesn’t (necessarily) matter what she wants, because she’s only six. lol So. Don’t ask what I think if you don’t want to know!

Me: No, you’re not telling me anything. You’re equating a perfectly legal, socially acceptable, non-harmful decoration with an illegal brain-damaging behavior.
Me: No, I was equating the PRINCIPLE of lettting a child decide something “because it’s her choice.” YOu missed the point. I could have chosen an example of something legal. Like going on a date. lol
No, I think people are in a mad rush to get their daughter’s ears pierced and stuff like that. I don’t generally approve of that.
Me: It’s not the same principle. I don’t give her EVERYTHING she wants when she wants it. Piercing her ears isn’t harmful. I’m not in a mad rush. If I were in a mad rush I would’ve done it when she was a baby.
She’s not old enough to make all her own decisions, but she’s old enough to decide that one, and I don’t mind if she does.
Him: Yes, but YOU brought up the “she wants it” thing when I asked why. My point was only that “because she wants it” is not necessarily a justification for anything when someone is six. Anyway, I don’t have time to explain Logic 101. Grrr. Next time, don’t annoy me, by asking me what I think! Just do what you want and leave me out of it, thank you very much!
Me: This isn’t about logic. This is about you disapproving and trying to use logic to prove your point when it really isn’t relevant.

Him: (I don’t approve BECAUSE logic says that is too young…)
And then he did the Facebook equivalent of hanging up on me, before I had a chance to point out that his belief that six is too young is not fact, but he’s basing his logical argument on the fact that “six is too young” and saying logic says that, when really, it doesn’t. There is no logic that says a six year old can’t make some of her own choices. And it isn’t “logical” to suggest that I’d let her do whatever she wants whenever she wants it, like smoke pot or go on dates, because I’m allowing her to choose this. By that logic, I should never let her make any of her own decisions, like picking out her own clothes in the morning or choosing what she wants off the menu at a restaurant or letting her pick a tea party for girls for her birthday party instead of an all-inclusive both-gender party.
It bothers me when people try to use logic to justify a position, but they’re basing their logic on an opinion. Logic doesn’t say she’s too young. He does. Logic doesn’t say letting her choose to get her ears pierced means I’m letting her do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. Logic, and good parenting, say children learn by doing, and they learn to make good choices later in life by having the opportunity to make small choices as they grow and develop, like picking their own clothes in the morning, choosing what they want to eat, deciding whether they’d rather do their math homework first or their reading, and yes, as they grow, deciding when they’re ready to do more permanent things, like have their ears pierced.
Now, there are plenty who will disagree with me and agree with him that six is too young. There are plenty more who made that decision for their daughters and had their ears pierced when they were babies. That’s fine. Either way, it’s a matter of opinion, not fact, not logic. As her mom, I believe she is old enough to decide whether she wants to get her ears pierced. That’s my opinion, and I’m willing to stand by that. You can disagree, and you can make a different choice for your daughter, but don’t tell me that I’m not logical or imply that I’m a bad, permissive parent who lets her child do harmful or illegal or inappropriate things, because you disagree about THIS thing.
End rant. Have a lovely day. 🙂

About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

5 comments on “How Old Before They Can Decide?

  1. Actually, if the conversation really went the way you outlined it, HE was the one who brought up the question of whether or not she wanted it. “She wants that?!”

    As a child grows, more and more decisions should be put into their court. Things like choosing what to wear (even if it doesn’t “match”), deciding between flavors of ice cream, choosing who to invite to their birthday party, etc. Every single choice is something that could be a sticky thing for another family. “I never let my children decide that!”

    I’m always happy to hear about parents who resist arbitrary rules about age-based freedom — “When you’re 13…” “When you’re 16…” It’s so much better to watch your child, know your child, and allow something when you feel they are ready, whether it is sooner or later than what other families are doing.

    It’s easy to get riled when someone else criticizes what we’ve chosen to allow for our children. We feel like our entire approach to parenting and our status as a responsible parent is being called into question. Maybe deep down we fear that our parenting license will be revoked, or that we may accidentally do irreparable harm to our child.

    I hope the sting of this attack fades quickly and you are able to leave it at the throne of God and find peace. Truly, if you and your husband are at peace with the decision, and if you’ve prayed and feel at peace with God about it, then nobody else’s opinion matters.

  2. Yeah, I’m about ready to grab my old Logic textbook off the shelf and hit him over the head with it. Nothing in his argument was logical. In fact, it was almost entirely irrational. I lost track of the number of logical fallacies in his argument, but the biggest ones are straw man and slippery slope. Equating pierced ears with marijuana use is about the most egregious comparison I’ve ever heard of.

    I get his point that “she wants it” is *in and of itself* insufficient reason for making any decision about anything. I think you do, too, and you more than adequately explained that there were plenty of other reasons, and her desire was simply one of them. He just grabbed “logic” in a lame attempt to defend himself because he was unwilling to back down and say the (ahem) logical thing, which is, “I wouldn’t make that choice for my child, but I acknowledge your right to make that choice for your child.”

    And I know tons of people who have pierced their daughters’ ears in infancy, and I have never known one of them to come to harm because of it. You’re a good mom, Avily. Stick to your guns.

    • LOL
      I love this person dearly and he is a very good friend, but yes, this argument was silly, and it was silly of him to try to say I’m the one who was being illogical. Also, he knows me (and my kids!) well enough to know that I DON’T let them do whatever they want, whenever they want.
      Anyway. I digress.
      Thanks, Kristen!

  3. Hey, if you want to pull out a Biblical argument, Isaac’s wife had a nose ring. *evil grin*

    I would never, ever, ever get my ears pierced, but I’m afraid of pain, allergic to most metal and attracted to gaudy earrings that could easily get ripped out in a bar fight, so I think that’s best. My mom, on the other hand, has two piercings per ear and would have more except the second set hurt too much.

    I’m live and let live on this subject. As long as she doesn’t swallow them…whatever.

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