There are many things in life- moments, events, actions- that are highly anticipated. Sometimes we’ve wanted them for so long, or so we thought, that we don’t remember thoroughly thinking through the logistics or details. Then, when the moment comes, we realize we’re not quite sure.
This is hard for adults- imagine how it feels for children!
Adam Baker, a father from North Carolina, recently shared a photo of his eight-year-old daughter Adelaide about to receive the desire of her heart: pierced ears. It was her birthday, and she had long been asking to get them done. In the picture, you can see the telltale purple dot on her ear, centered and ready to go.
This is the unpierced ear of a newly 8-year-old girl who has been talking about getting her ears pierced for over a…
But she didn’t go through with it.
Adelaide stopped smiling as they prepped her ears, and with tears in her eyes said, “I don’t want to do it.”
Now, I know it would be natural for some parents to force their kids back into the chair, coerce them, bribe them, or threaten them, saying things like, “This is all you’ve been talking about for months, now we’re here, and you’re doing it.” But Adam didn’t.
“In the month leading up to her eighth birthday, Adelaide had become increasingly excited and focused upon having her ears pierced for her birthday,” Baker tells Babble. “She frequently asked for details about the process, and we spent a lot of time watching Youtube videos of 8-year-olds getting their ears pierced.”
But they left the store, without holes or brand new birthday earrings. According to Adam, Adelaide kept saying, over and over, “Thank you for understanding.” According to him, this is because “Her voice has been heard. Her choice has been honored. Her body is her own, and she knows that those who love her will respect her choices.”
Amen and Amen.
Funny enough, something similar happened in our house just this evening. My daughter was jazzed for a planned sleepover with her buddy. She busily prepared, packing her belongings and screaming with excitement. When we got there, the pair immediately began playing, scurrying around the house and laughing. A few minutes after they went upstairs to check out the cool bunk beds, my daughter came running back down into my arms with tears in her eyes, saying, “I just want to go home. I don’t want to sleep over tonight.”
It was hard. I felt bad for derailing plans and disappointing our friends. But there was no hesitation there: it’s her decision. Her gut was telling her it wasn’t the right time. It’s our job to respect that.
It’s never too early to tell and show our children that they have ownership of their bodies. The expectations of others- whether it be teachers, parents, friends, or future partners- are not a reason to do something you’re unprepared for. Period. We know ourselves best. We can practice autonomy.
Our hats are off to this sweet, supportive father for empowering his daughter. Surely these moments are the building blocks of a strong, confident woman.
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.