Why I’m letting my teen pierce whatever he wants

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

My 15-year-old has developed a new passion for body piercing of late. He's had a few piercings done: his ears, his nose, and an "industrial" (a piercing that sits through two holes across the top of one ear).

Some of my parent friends have expressed concern that I'm letting him "deface" his body, but I stand by my decision (as long as he saves up and pays for it himself). I'm happy to let him poke holes in whatever body part he likes.

The fact is, it's his body – and that's something I've thought it important to teach my children from a young age. Their body: their choice.

I want my kids to feel like individuals, and to be able to express themselves in whatever way they feel comfortable. And I want them to know that when it comes to their bodies, they are the only ones who make the decisions.

Obviously, I'm here to guide them and not let them do anything too crazy – especially for my younger two kids who are both under 10.

A face tattoo would be a no from me for all my kids right now – although I understand my authority even on matters such as this expires on their 18th birthday. 

The law varies across Australia with regard to body piercing, but in Queensland, where we live, anyone can get a piercing if they are judged as having sound and reasonable judgement.

Piercings in intimate areas do require a parent or guardian's permission up until the age of 18. That's an issue I'm happy to take on its merits if that conversation arises but so far we haven't talked about it. 

But at the age of 15, I feel like my son is old enough to understand cause and effect, and what the consequences of his actions are – and nothing he is doing has to be permanent. He knows what he wants and what will make him happy, so why stand in his way? 

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My job as a parent is to love and guide, not to stand over and dictate. I believe the more I let my kids make their own decisions, the more confident and resilient they will become.

They won't always make decisions they're happy with down the track, but I'll be there to help them work out what to do next – if they want me to.

I've also always taught my children that people may come in all shapes, sizes and appearances but we need to get to know them and what's underneath all of that. 

Yes, there may be some potential employers that now won't hire my son, but he's a tenacious kid, and I have no doubt he will go out and find an employer that will see past his piercings to the bright, enthusiastic and helpful person he is.

And when he finds that employer, I guarantee they're going to be someone with values that are far more aligned with my son's than one who bases decisions on body piercings.

The fact is, the body piercing doesn't hurt anyone (except my son, who is holding an ice pack against his swollen, recently pierced nose as I type this). My son is expressing himself in a way that feels good to him and he feels like he looks great.

Anyone with a teenager knows that any boost in their self-esteem or positive feelings about their looks aren't easy to come by. What an easy gift to give him.

And if he changes his mind, he can remove the piercings, with only the faintest scar leaving a clue of what was there before. And all scars tell a story