When Mullen's pediatrician explained they don't pierce infants' ears until after their four-month shots, Mullen began talking about piercing with other moms. One mom admitted to Mullen that while she was happy with the decision to pierce her daughter's ears, sometimes it bothered her to see her sweet baby with jewelry in her ears while she was being bathed and changed.
Mullen's daughters are now five and almost two, and while she has decided her daughters can have their ears pierced, her oldest is afraid to have it done. "Cultural preferences will probably end up dictating the decision one makes," says Mullen.
For some mothers, ear piercing can be considered a rite of passage or a way to instill self-esteem, as described by Karen Marcum, of Corpus Christi, Texas, who let her daughter, Amanda, get her ears pierced at age 10. When Amanda was younger, she wore her hair short because of the Texas heat and was sometimes mistaken for a boy. "I thought it would make her feel special and look pretty with her short hair," says Marcum. "Her self-esteem boomed, and I'm glad I did it. I don't think we harmed her by letting her have her ears pierced at that age."
Erin Brown Conroy's oldest daughter was bald until she was almost two, and many people assumed she was a boy. "Piercing her ears saved me, and others, from embarrassment of mistaken gender. It was really worth getting rid of the negative energy spent on the issue," says Conroy.
Conroy, of Schoolcraft, Michigan, who is an author, life coach, and mother to 13 children (six of them daughters), thinks it's appropriate to have ears pierced at any age as long as the care needed is implemented. "If a child is younger, the care often falls to the mom; if we understand and expect that care in our daily routine, then we don't get bent out of shape from what can be viewed at bothersome," she says.