Steel Advice: Piercing baby's ears a parent's prerogative

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DEAR MARY ANN: What is it with parents today that so many of them decide to have their infant daughter's, and even infant son's, ears pierced? To my thinking, this is borderline child abuse. The child certainly has no input in the decision.

Why not get the baby some really cool tattoos as well? Who do these parents think they're impressing?

If a child upon maturing to the point of having cognitive faculties decides he or she would like to have his or her ears pierced and seeks the parents' permission to do so, that's one thing. But with ear-pierced infants, these parents take away the child's opportunity to ever have such a choice. Who knows, maybe some of these ear pierced infants when old enough to think might have decided to reject the trend and go through childhood without pierced ears. Am I missing something here?


DEAR LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE: Piercing an infant's ears is not borderline child abuse, but you do pause when you see an adorable baby at a kiosk in the mall getting her ears pierced. Controversial in parts of the United States, it is the customary thing to do in many other societies where the tradition is for the baby to leave the hospital with her little gold studs in place. The practice is culturally driven.

Often it is the dads who put a foot down and take a strong stand against their young baby daughters getting their ears pierced. Eager moms, grandmas and aunties often think it is so much fun to dress the babies like adorable dolls, and they are the ones who push for the earrings. Some moms of little boys think the trend is cute and pierce their sons' ears.

You are correct in saying that by piercing a child's ears at a young age, the parent is denying the child the opportunity to reject the trend and have an earring-free childhood. As in many things, to pierce or not to pierce doesn't have a right or wrong answer. It is the parent's choice.

DEAR MARY ANN: My husband was brought up in a very well-mannered family. Recently, he has lost all table manners. He will reach into the salad with his hands to serve himself, not using the serving utensils. When serving certain entrees, like chicken, he will grab and pull the meat off the bone. I want our children to know these are not proper manners including licking his fingers. How can I help him understand how important this is to me?


DEAR WIFE: Your husband's lack of table manners is setting a poor example for your children. His social graces have evaporated recently so he is aware of the difference between mountain man camper and conventional decorum.

Teaching your children good table manners begins at home. If you make a game of practicing polite table graces your children will catch on and develop good habits. When you challenge your children to learn how to set a table or how to indicate when they have finished a meal you are teaching important social skills.

When your husband uses his hands as serving utensils he isn't being funny. He is demeaning himself in front of his kids, and he should stop trying to sabotage your efforts with his crude behavior. He may think he is amusing, but in reality he is being boorish and uncouth. He should save the serving drama for squirrel and a camp fire not your dining room table. He is displaying behavior that he would be embarrassed to use in front of business associates. If he doesn't get on board, there may be more going on here than elbows on the table.


Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice.


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