Teen wants upper ear lobes pierced


February 01, 1994|By Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe | Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe,Special to the Sun

Q My 16-year-old had her ears pierced three times on each side and now wants the upper lobe pierced as well. I'm concerned because the skin looks thin and I think it's unsafe but she won't take no for an answer. Can you help?

A: While we appreciate your concerns about your daughter's health, we can't think of any medical reason that would argue against acceding to her wishes. If her ears are pierced by a knowledgeable individual who uses clean instruments, and your daughter takes proper care until the skin heals, there should not be any ensuing difficulty.

Many times teen-agers make choices with which parents disagree. Such decisions may have to do with style of dress, sleep habits, hair styles or color, food selection or choice of friends. Parents may feel that they are bad choices, and our instinct is to protect the teen-ager by refusing to honor his or her decision. However, as teen-agers mature it is increasingly important for them to exercise their judgment (even if we view it as faulty) and then live with the consequences of their decisions.

Otherwise, they will never develop the adult capacity to assess a series of options and choose the one that is best for him or her.

Our role as parents is to help them assess their choices and to set limits on decisions that pose a significant threat to their health, such as drinking and driving. We can also insist that they honor certain household rules, such as maintaining respect for other members of the family and telling the truth. But in the matter of getting her ears pierced yet again, we believe you should honor your daughter's decision.

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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