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Piercing Debate: Should 6-Year-Old Boys Be Allowed to Have Earrings?

Theoretically, yes. Practically speaking, well …

It’s a common question for many parents: at what age do you let your children get their ears pierced? It’s along the same lines of when can they wear make-up to school or add color to their hair.

For one of my close friends, however, who recently had her 6-year-old child begging to get their ears pierced, the innocent request became much more complicated because it was her son doing the asking.

“Well, what did you say?” I asked her after she told me how she found her little boy trying to poke holes in his ears with her earrings.

“Absolutely not,” was her quick response.

And for some reason this immediate rejection of the idea did not sit well with me, even though I too have 6-year-old son, and getting his ears pierced is nothing I have even considered before.

Still, I persisted and pestered my friend about a non-issue in my own household — which is probably why it was so much easier for me to be supportive of the idea — but I was determined to figure out why this exclusion of earrings for little boys bothered me so much.

“Well, that doesn’t seem fair,” my innate rebellious attitude coming through. “If it was your daughter, would you have her ears pierced by now?”

“Oh, for sure,” my friend said laughing. “She would have had diamond studs put in her ears in the delivery room.”

And there it is.

The double standard of raising little boys and little girls and the expectations we, as parents, have for our children. 

But even with the growing trend of boys piercing their ears, among other areas, my friend was not about to allow her young son to have his own set of diamond studs due to a laundry list of reasons why not:

  • He won't understand the impact the pierced ears could have.
  • I don't want to deal with it.
  • I don't want people judging him.
  • I don't want people judging me.

As we bickered back and forth, my friend presented a solid argument of why it's her responsibility as a parent to teach her kids what society expects of them in behavior, attitudes and appearances.

And sadly, 6-year-old boys just aren't allowed to pierce their ears, even though it’s perfectly acceptable for the female counterparts. Little holes in a boy's ears symbolizes rebellion and non-conformity, while in a little girl, it's sweet, girly and expected.  

And the fact is, she continued, having a young boy running around with an earring, no matter how harmless it may seem, was just opening the door to any potential backlash from other people and could harm her baby in ways that he wouldn't be able to understand.

“I don’t want other mother’s to look at him, see the earring and think twice about letting their child play with him,” my friend said.

Hard to explain this concept to a little boy who only wants what he thinks looks cool.

“Sorry little buddy, but you can’t have an innocent piece of jewelry in your ear because there are people in this cold, crazy world who would judge you and label you as socially unacceptable.”

I finally agreed with my friend and her decision to not allow the ears to be pierced, but I am still sad for the child who is being denied an innocent request based on the harsh realities of a judgmental society. As much as it pains me to say it, I admit that I too, would not allow my sons as this age to get their ears pierced.

“That’s just the world we live in,” my friend said.

Yes it is.

However, I am determined to win this war and am hereby stating out loud that when my son's are older — if they ever want to pierce their ears, I will allow it and even help them pick out their first set of diamond studs.

Lori December 17, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Tatum, great job with this. I can't wait to see how people feel about it
Danielle December 17, 2011 at 01:58 PM
I have to say that I think I would allow my child to go ahead and get their ear pierced. I believe after doing the first one he may not want to do the second one. lol however, I am determined to not try to fit my child into my box. I want them to express themselves and be the person they are on the inside. I have raised them to be true to themselves and not be concerned with what others think about them. I beleive there is a certain level of conformity in our society in regards to respect and other core values but I do not beleive you should conform to point of losing who you truly are on the inside.So if my seven year old son truly wanted an earring, I think I would allow it. If it was a fad and he took them out they would heal.
SpartyPants December 17, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Great article to make us think abut the many gender biases in our society! Another job well done, Tatum! This time of year, there will be many disappointed little girls who hoped for a Tonka Truck and boys hoping for a barbie. I have a friend whose darling little boy loves to paint his nails pink like his sisters... It begs the question, What's the big deal?
kimburlie January 22, 2013 at 01:35 AM
My son just asked to do this himself and he is also 6 his 5 and 11 year old sisters both have theres bone. Im going to make him wait a month or so just as I would my girls so he has time to think it over, but im going to let him if he still wants it then... I dont feel right saying no kust cuz he. Is my boy and after all its a small whole that will close if a year or 5 down the line he dosent want them anymore.
BIGDAWG February 24, 2013 at 04:51 PM
I just had this talk with my wife and im against it, I think when they are teenagers is a different story but 4 and 6 is too soon. Because everyone says, "I dont want to deny them of...." whatever it may be. I believe that paople find a reason to shift their ways of making good judgment calls. But if you think about thats why everything else is divorce for one because its easier to have people do what they want to do, then what they should do. Now with other people from above i do agree that when their the appropriate age (teenagers) then yes different story. But for now Hell No. Thats from a Dads perspective.

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