Piercing My Son’s Ears
We have seen countless videos on the internet of baby girls getting their ears pierced. We swoon and we say “awe, she’s so adorable!” “What a big girl she is!” *Insert heart eye emoji.* We watch the parents comfort their daughters afterward and think of what it will be like when we pierce our own daughter’s ears. It is the norm. However, I do not have a daughter. I have a son. Yes, I pierced my son’s ears and I do not feel bad about it. I also do not care what anyone else thinks either. The decision to pierce my son’s ears was not easily made. But, I learned a valuable lesson. Keep reading to find out what I learned from piercing my son’s ears.
How It Began
Shortly after Jaxon was born last November, Marquis mentioned that when Jaxon turned one, he would pierce Jax’s ears. As a new mother, I instantly objected. “NO! He’s a boy. You can’t pierce his ears. We need to allow him to make that choice on his own. Little boys just do not have their ears pierced.” Apart from circumcision which was for obvious health reasons, I did not want to be that parent who made every decision for their child without their consent. But, what do you do when your child is not old enough to consent? How old will they be when they ARE old enough to consent?
Marquis’ counter-argument was, “little girls get their ears pierced, why can’t little boys?” “Both of my ears are pierced. So are my brothers, your brother, and countless other men in our families.”
Would I hesitate to pierce my infant daughter’s ears if I had one? No, I probably would not. I got my ears pierced as a baby. But, I’m a girl and he’s a boy. That’s a good argument, right? Wrong.
Another fear I had for piercing my son’s ears were, what would OTHER people say? Living in the Deep South, gender conformity is just what it is. Girls wear dresses, men wear pants. Does that mean I wanted to be like everyone else? No. I just did not want Jaxon to get older, and be upset with his parents for piercing his ears nor did I want him to be judged for it.
But what if other children pick on him?
What if he does not think having your ears pierced is cool?
Do we take them out if he does not like them?
Marquis pushed back by saying, “I want him to look like me.”
For the Culture
I needed a legit reason to agree to modify my infant son’s body. It’s not a part of our culture. Or is it? We’re African American. Most African American men that I know have their ears pierced. How old were they, though? My brother was a teenager. Marquis was too. He swears that his brothers were all babies when they got their ears pierced. But, do other people pierce their son’s ears? Not anyone that I personally know. But then again, I live in Mississippi. I do not know what people in other parts of the country do. The fact still remained, that I needed a valid excuse to justify piercing my son’s ears.
In the end, it really just seemed to me that piercing Jaxon’s ears was simply for him to look even more like his daddy. I also believe that piercing a baby’s ear, boy or girl, is for either vanity purposes or religious/cultural reasons. As far as I know, the men and women in my family who have their ears pierced did so simply for vanity. I understand that it may not be a perfect reason to do so, but, Marquis wants his son to look like him.
Just one week shy of Jaxon’s first birthday, Marquis text me and said, “when we get home, we’re taking Jaxon to get his ears pierced.” No. Absolutely not. We’re not about to make that decision for him. We need to wait until he’s older. Plus, it’s going to hurt him! Marquis, however, insisted. This year-long debate was stirring up yet again.
We ended the conversation with me telling him to just wait to talk about it when we both got home. Marquis’ entire attitude throughout the past year has been, “I’m his parent too. I can do what I want.” Whereas, I feel like we should compromise. If we can’t compromise, then we cannot do whatever it is we are disagreeing about. But, that means I win, correct?
So, I decided to offer a compromise. Marquis wanted both of Jaxon’s ears pierced. I wanted neither. So, the compromise was to get his left ear pierced. Marquis STILL disagreed.
Throughout the day while I was at work, I mulled over all of the points Marquis raised.
I decided that I had enough of the back and forth. What the heck. If he grows up to not like them, then he can just take them out. Whatever. Let’s go.
If our Pediatrician’s office offered ear piercing, I would have taken Jaxon there. However, our only option was Walmart. We took him to the nearest Walmart around 8 PM. The lady at the counter was cordial when we first arrived. She asked if we were going to pierce “her” ears tonight. She did not see Jaxon’s face and only his hair, and automatically assumed he was a girl. We adamantly corrected her, and then her entire attitude changed.
Her face clearly showed displeasure for piercing my son’s ears. She said to us, “Why won’t you wait until he is older so he can make that decision on his own?” My argument for not doing it was validated at that very moment. Also, at that very moment, I decided that I did not care what anyone thought. I was so extremely upset, that I did not want this woman, with this attitude, to ruin this experience for us. She made one too many excuses as to why Jaxon could not get his ears pierced.
Was this the attitude we would face from everyone we encountered? If so, then boo hoo, sad story. I don’t care what you think.
We left and went to another Walmart. The lady there was pleasant, sweet, and made Jaxon happy. He cried only at the initial piercing of his ear and was in good spirits afterward.
What is the takeaway from this?
What I learned from this experience is that it is not about what others think, or what they say. It’s what we decide to teach Jaxon that’s important. He will grow up surrounded by men that look like him, with earrings. He will learn to not care about what other people think when it comes to appearances. As long as he is happy, what others think will not matter. It’s okay for little girls AND little boys to have earrings. If they grow older and do not like them, they can be taken out. Hopefully, by then, little boys with pierced ears will too be the norm.
At this point, I also do not care what people think of my parenting decisions. Jaxon is loved by so many people, and he is well taken care of. He radiates joy because that is the type of love he is exposed to.
Parenting is no easy task. There are a million books available that can help guide your parenting experiences, but in the end, every parent and child is different. Every decision a parent make will not always be the same as another. So, do you and don’t let anyone stop you from doing it!
I agree. As parents, it is your decision how you raise your son. However I think it should be taken into effect that we leave in a society where black men are looked upon and judged based on their looks, I think it’s also important to keep in mind how he will be portrayed and labeled at school, or by society as a whole. We can’t dismiss the prejudice of a society we live in, at this son all we can do is the best to protect our children and give them the opportunity to shape their future as they wish.
Thanks for being so transparent. This was a great post to read.
Having a black son will always keep me aware of the prejudice that he will one day face. Whether it be his appearance, his skin color, or his personality, he will always be judged. I hate that it is such a true statement. But, that is why I felt it was important for me to mention that he will grow up seeing other black men such as his father and uncles with earrings. It is our goal to teach him to be as confident as his father, regardless of what others may think! If it gets to a point where he is extremely uncomfortable, and just wants to look like other little boys who may not have their ears pierced, then he is more than welcome to take them out! I really appreciate your comment. Thank you so much for reading, Laura! <3
That’s a tough one. I don’t have son and if I ever do I don’t know what my stance would be on it. But I think your thought process before your decision was valid. We just want to protect our babies from the world. Thank so for sharing your story with us.
Yea, like I said, I was totally against it for the entire year, and gave in the day of. I realized that it would be a great way to teach our son how to be confident in his appearance. The only things is that if he does not like them, he is more than welcome to take them out. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!
Good job on this honest post. I have a son and no, I wouldn’t have his ears pierced but I will allow him if he’s ready to make that decision for himself. You, on the other hand, I respect your opinion and it’s great for you to share your experience with us.
Thank you so much for your transparency! I always respect the opinions of others, and I would like for you to know that I respect yours, as you respect mine! I really appreciate you taking the time out to read!
This was very interesting to read. To be honest, I don’t I would consider piercing my sons’ ears, but then, that completely lines up with our families’ cultures and upbringing. So why wouldn’t you do what reflects yours? If anything, this was an excellent breakdown on why and what we choose for children, as their parents. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for reading! As far as culture goes, if we were not able to provide him with wonderful male influences that also have earrings, the decision may have been different. I wouldn’t want him to feel out of place because he has earrings. But luckily, every man, young and old, he will encounter in our family will look like him! I hope that it brings him comfort. If not, then I am okay with him taking them out.
I loved your article, even though I’m still of the old mindset and will not be piercing my son’s ears. But you raise important points such as I do melt when I see girls with their ears pierced so you definitely made me think.
Now and without raising a debate as I know having your son circumcised is a hot topic, I feel like you breeze through that in your sentence(I know it’s not the main topic of your article) saying “Apart from circumcision which was for obvious health reasons” I would like to make you think same as you have done with me. I was born and raised in Cuba til I was 33 years old and I never saw a circumcised penis. It’s simply not done and so far in my sexual life I only encountered a dirty penis(ew) all the other men were taught since they were little to retract their penis head and clean. I’m now in Canada and I didn’t circumcise my son.
Again, not to antagonize you sister but that bit rankled me a bit 🙂
You have a new follower here.
I think I breezed over the part about circumcision because it’s “the norm” here in America, and the opinion of doing so is pushed on us pretty heavily. We also only had a two-week window after birth to get it done, so the decision was made a lot sooner than I would have liked. Circumcision is a hot topic, and there are many different sides to it. It was also another decision that neither his father nor I took lightly. His father, who is also Amercian, would not have been upset had I not gotten Jaxon circumcised. To be honest, that was a decision that I made on my own, and his father reluctantly went with it. If I could go back in time, I would have begun thinking about the decision to circumcise a lot sooner than before he was born. Would the outcome be different? I’m not sure, but I will be honest and say that at the time, I felt like I didn’t have a choice. Thank you for reading! I really appreciate your honest feedback.
I also didn’t want my son circumcised for the same reason as consent-and the fact its a major body modification. so i feel the same about piercings. be it a boy, or a girl. however, much respect for being the parent and taking charge with your own decision.
Thank you for post l love to see people’s process on how and why they came to the decisions they made.
Very well written and I can see where you are coming from culturally within the family. It never came across my mind to pierce my sons ears because I always thought of it as something you do a bit older, even for girls. It is also fair that if your husband feels very strong about something we as moms have to let them be dads.
You did bring up the point of circumcision which can be quite controversial and culturally in the US it is a standard norm but for the rest of the developed world and backgrounds it varies greatly.
He’s adorable. Such a brave little fella!
My husband also felt very strong about wanting to get our sons ears pierced so we just pierced my sons ears. we’ve already gotten compliments about how it’s interesting to see a boy have there ears pierced. I did love reading about ur experience as well though.
Love this because I am having this debate with my mother. She is very against the idea. Her points are that he could possibly be bullied because of it, it should be his choice, boys are not suppose to have their ears pierced till other, people will mistake him for a girl ect ect. It’s very upsetting because something so natural In girls can be viewed so horrid for a boy. Anyways this post reassured me
Probably a majority of the boys / young men who attend the very conservative local church where we go wear earrings. No one suggests it’s somehow inappropriate. It’s what boys / young men do confidently. It’s a total non issue.
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