Don’t Judge a Kid By His Piercings

kid piercings, blue hair, teen

Last year, two of my teens wanted piercings for their birthdays. My 16 year old wanted her nose pierced, and my 13 year old wanted his lip pierced. It was the first time my husband and I had to figure out where we stand on this.

We are a Bible-believing, Christian family, and we make decisions based on what we believe the word of God and the Holy Spirit are saying. But the issue of piercing is not a clear one for us. We have read the Biblical arguments both for and against it, and we don’t believe there is a mandate against it, which is why many of us have our ears pierced.

So the next consideration was more practical than spiritual. Both of these teens live in an artistic world. Sky (the 16 year old) is a musician. She sings at the opera house, does musical theatre and writes, records and performs her own music. Although she would have to remove a nose piercing to perform in an opera or for a theatre performance, having the piercing is not going to limit her choices in the music industry.

Seth is an aspiring filmmaker. He interns at a creative complex where there are animators, web designers, videographers and all sorts of innovators and entrepreneurs who collaborate on diverse projects. The place is buzzing with young hipsters, zipping around on hover boards, none of whom would be the slightest bit tweaked by a lip piercing.

But we also knew that in the homeschool community and to some degree, in the church community, holes anywhere other than earlobes might not be so welcome. We suspected that they might face some judgement and that we might too.

So ultimately, my husband and I knew that we had to be entirely convinced of whatever decision we made. If we rejected piercings, we would need for our kids to understand why. And if we approved it, we would need to feel confident that we could defend our decision. We know a lot of parents believe that they should not have to justify their choices to their children. They believe that what they say goes, and that their kids to accept their authority without question or comment.

We do believe that parental authority is vital. Jody and I have done radio shows about it, written blogs and articles, taught workshops and given countless talks about establishing a solid foundation of authority. But we also firmly believe that rules without relationship breed rebellion.

Our kids have to know that we value them as individuals. Our children are not extensions of us. They are not ours. They are unique individuals who belong to their Creator. We are just stewards for a short period of time. And while it is absolutely our job to train them and guide them and mentor them to adulthood, we must respect them and value their ideas and interests and desires because they have all been hard wired differently, each for unique purposes that are different than our own.

So if we were going to tell our children that they could not get the piercings they wanted, we had to be fully convinced that it was for their best. Ultimately, we want our children to believe with all their hearts that we have their best in mind.

So here’s what we decided…

After thought and prayer and conversation, we decided that our kids could express themselves in clothing, hair and ornamentation in whatever way they wanted as long as

  1. It did not compromise their modesty or purity
  2. It was not permanent (more on that in a moment)
  3. It would not jeopardize important opportunities in the present or for their future

If either of these two teens had jobs (or wanted jobs) that would be compromised by their piercings, we would not have given our permission. But they’re both entrepreneurs. She has a henna business, and he does videography and video editing. One of my other kids is an aspiring lobbyist. He wants to excel at debate, work on political campaigns, page for the senate and ultimately be taken seriously in the realm of government. A nose or lip piercing would not be a good move for him (not that he would even want one). But for my two artists, it doesn’t present a professional stumbling block.

We also don’t believe it compromises their modesty or purity. And lip or nose or even eyebrow piercings are not permanent. Neither is blue hair, which the 13 year old also wanted to try.

Tattoos are permanent. Gauges in ear lobes can also cause permanent changes to the ears. And we have decided that for anything permanent, our kids must wait until marriage. 1 Corinthians 7:4 says, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” So anything permanent must be approved by their future spouses. Once we explained this to our kids and demonstrated it in the Scriptures, they agreed.

Be Careful With Criticism

Jody and I have seen too many young adults turn away from their parents because they feel rejected by their criticism. When our kids believe that we are forcing them to live by our standards in order to make ourselves look good or to avoid potential judgement at church or in our own peer groups, they will eventually reject our standards and may even reject us when they have reached the age of independence.

We have to let our kids be their own people, and we have to deeply value the people they are, even if it is profoundly different from ourselves. Yes, we want them to be wise and pure, and if their choices could hurt themselves or others, we have to assert our authority but also come along side them and coach them toward better choices. Perhaps your family will have a different conviction about piercings than ours did. That’s okay too. Just be willing to sit with your children and discuss your beliefs. Let them know that you deeply value them and you want them to make right choices. Explain your convictions, and stand by your choice. But do it out of love and not fear.

And be careful not judge other families who have made different choices. Remember, every family and every individual has a different calling.

kid piercings, nose ring, teen


Sky knows that she is called reach the lost. She is not called to reach the church. So she is going to look different than a girl her age who is called to minister primarily to the church body. The apostle Paul said, “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:21, 22).

Let’s be careful not to make quick judgements about what is acceptable or unacceptable. Some have argued that our kids shouldn’t look like the world – they are set apart. Being set apart goes deeper than outward appearance. Our kids can be both relevant and pure. They can dress modestly and still be creative and relevant. The choices they make as ambassadors of God will set them apart.

When they choose peace and prayer during a crisis, they will be set apart, and their peers will notice. When they avoid profanity while the people around them don’t, they will be set apart. When they focus on growing their skills and becoming their own best at whatever gifts and passions they’ve been given, instead of focusing on growing their social life and winning favor with the opposite sex, they will be set apart.

One Pesky Problem

Our kids are to be IN the world but not OF the world. Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) Therein lies our challenge.

Last year when we were key note speakers in British Columbia, one of the conference coordinators gave an excellent talk, and in it he said that in many ways it seems the Amish got it right. We must protect our children from the evil one, so we are tempted to shelter them from the world and cause them to live in the safety of isolation. But there’s one pesky problem with this plan — the Great Commission.

God is going to use every one of our kids in a unique way to fulfill His plan. Some will be called the mountain of government, where piercings and blue hair will not make them effective witnesses. Others will be called to the mountain of arts and entertainment, where piercings and mohawks are not at all strange. Let’s be sensitive to the passions and purposes of each our kids and each other’s kids, and let the Holy Spirit (not biases or prejudices) do the leading.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

4 thoughts on “Don’t Judge a Kid By His Piercings

  1. Thank you for this post. I tend to have more of a negative knee-jerk with hair and piercing issues, but you’ve made some very valid points that have made me re-think it all. Our son is still an infant, but I want him to know that we love him, first and foremost, with the decisions we make with and for him as he grows. I also want him to love his Lord with his whole heart, and obey and serve Him with the choices he makes. Thank you for bringing a new and enlightened perspective to my sometimes-too-narrow-minded world!

    • Thank you for your honest and humble response. Your willingness to receive new insight will bless your children immensely! Parenting is a journey, and your child is so fortunate that you are already aware of the changes and the growth that you will experience along the way. Be wildly blessed along your journey!

  2. Thank you.
    Our 16 year old son just pierced his brow Without our permission.
    I think he knew our reply already.
    Learning Grace and humility…

    • That’s a tough one! Kids under 18 absolutely should discuss these things with their parents and get full parent approval. In Florida, minors must have a notarized consent form from parents before they can get any piercings.

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