This question should stop any normal parent in his/her tracks. “You want to have what?” would be the knee-jerk reaction. It’s the 21st Century and times have changed from when we were kids.
Back in the 70’s I had to ask my parents if I could grow my hair long (past my ears, down my back was pushing it). “All the guys have long hair,” I argued. They relented and I spent a summer skipping haircuts to make my debut to 9th grade as one of the cool kids.
Now, kids are not asking something they can change with a trip to the hair stylist. Rather, they want to permanently disfigure their faces. Tattoos and piercings are pretty hard to undo and this generation of youth is not thinking about the future. If you don’t believe me, just go to any fast food restaurant and see what’s behind the counter.
Today, an kid’s image is about more than just their clothes and hair. It’s about having the latest smart phone, the coolest first car and following the latest trends. Trends tend to be set by the fringe-elements of society, however bizarre. How we appeared in the 70’s reflected what the hippies looked like in the 60’s with a more conservative approach. Now, kids want to emulate to the fullest whatever the freakazoids are doing on MTV and the internet.
So, be glad your kid asked in the first place instead of coming home with a surprise in her face. As parents, we need to be prepared for stuff like this and have a list of questions ready. Some to ask would be, “What kind of people are you trying to identify with?” Explain that even though facial piercing might be trendy, it was made popular in recent times by drug-users. If they want to work in a profession that pays more than minimum wage, having an image as a druggie might be a bad idea. Big-corporation interviewers would see that hole in her face and think she’s an addict and therefore not worth the risk.
Next, “Have you thought this through?” Even though she wants to do it now, will she regret it in adulthood. That applies to tattoos as well. As your child grows and gains weight, that tat is going to stretch and fade. Invite them to just look at you. You’re not as thin as you used to be!
Next, and most important, I would advise instilling in your kid a sense of self-worth. Something like, “You couldn’t be a prettier girl. Will a nose ring add to your appearance? When you remove it, how will that hole look? You don’t need to follow the crowd, you’re beautiful just the way you are. You are an awesome person. Don’t follow the trends, set the trends.” If you would have been affirming your daughter like this all along, she probably wouldn’t be wanting a nose/lip/tongue/eyebrow/navel-ring. Your son probably wouldn’t want a tattoo either.
Affirming your kids with a great sense of self esteem and instilling a sense of “We” into them will help keep them from freaky influences. They will understand that in this family, there’s certain things “We” don’t do. When kids are raised in a loving, stable environment, they may consider how they represent their parents.
We do look to the future.