For a young teen, piercing is much more than a simple fashion statement. To your child, a piercing is an outward expression that says, "I'm growing up and making decisions on my own, even if they offend you." It's a normal part of the maturing process.
With that in mind, try to approach your child's desire to pierce in a rational way. The idea of body piercing will lose much of its appeal if you remain calm and unoffended when your child talks to you about it.
If your young teen is begging to pierce a body part, it's important to talk together about the following factors:
? Passing fads Remind your child about other fads and trends that are no longer in style. Explain that while last year's flared pants can easily be exchanged for this year's capris, a piercing is a physical change that's more difficult to discard when the trend changes.
? Health concerns It takes a long time for the body to heal from a piercing. Ears usually take 4 to 6 weeks, but other piercings ? like those in the navel ? can take up to an entire year. According to an article in the July 2000 Journal of the American Dental Association, piercing the lips and tongue can lead to health complications like mouth infections, tooth damage and difficulties with speech. Body piercing of any kind also increases the risk of hepatitis and aids (if unsterile needles are used).
? Appearance Ask your child how he wants people to view him. Talk about the impact a pierced tongue or eyebrow might have on that perception. Talk about other ways he might express his individualism and independence: through writing, his choice in clothing, even a part-time job.
? Compromise If you can't stand the thought of your child with a tongue bar, come up with a solution you can both agree on. Maybe you'd be more apt to accept a third earring or even a navel ring.
? Time Ask your child to think about the decision for a set amount of time. At the end of that time, talk with her again about her reasons for wanting the piercing and possible side effects.
Mother of four
If you decide to allow your young teen to pierce a body part, make sure she takes a few precautions:
1. Choose needles over piercing guns. According to the experts in body piercing, these guns are rarely sterile, quite traumatic to the body and often inaccurate. A piercing needle is safer and carries less risk of infection or injury.
2. Make sure the person doing the piercing is a licensed/certified piercer (he or she should have a certificate on display) and wears sterile, disposable latex gloves.
3. After you get home, have your child swab the pierced area with alcohol or antibiotic ointment daily.
4. Turn the earring or stud several times a day to make sure it can move freely.
5. Watch for any redness, swelling or pain at the site of the piercing. If these do occur, consult your physician on the best way to treat them.
6. Choose jewelry made of gold, silver, platinum or stainless steel. The less expensive stuff often contains nickel and zinc, which can cause allergic reactions like itching and rashes.
Copyright © 2001 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian Parenting Today Magazine.
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