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Mom asks if she was right to ban Grandma after she pierced 3-month-old’s ears without permission

Aug. 8, 2019

With a new baby comes plenty of new opportunities to disagree with the in-laws. Maybe they take issue with your parenting style or offer way too much unsolicited advice. At the end of the day, you are the parent and you get the final say. But what happens when grandparents totally disregard your rules? A new mom is wondering if she made the right choice in banning her mother-in-law from babysitting after her 3-month-old came home from Grandma’s with newly pierced ears.

The anonymous mom shared her story in a thread on Reddit, where she wrote that she and her husband’s family often disagree on parenting issues because they come from different cultural backgrounds. “One tiny thing that came about when I had a daughter was ear piercing. It’s a big deal in my husband’s culture that the baby girls get their ears pierced pretty much at birth. I wasn’t comfortable with it,” she explains.

But that didn’t stop her mother-in-law from pestering her about it every time they saw each other. The mom and her husband brushed off the requests, but then something major happened. “Last weekend, we went out to run a few errands kid free. Mother-in-law kept them out a bit later and when she returned … my daughter had pierced ears,” the mom writes. “She said she had my sister-in-law (husband’s sister) do them. She’s done them for all the babies in the family and it was tradition. I was pissed. I felt so violated, took my kids and told her to leave.”

Following the outrageous incident, the mom has decided that her mother-in-law is no longer allowed to babysit or be alone with her children. Her husband backs her up, but the rest of the family has accused her of being selfish and going against their customs, leaving her to wonder if she made the right choice. She posed the question to Reddit, and hundreds of people chimed in with their opinions.

User monte_101 writes, “You are the parents. The decisions you make for your children are to be respected. Parenting is hard enough without someone adding to the difficulty with their own sense of privilege.”

Some even went so far as to call the grandma’s actions illegal and abusive. “You may not be able to do anything legally, but what she did is still assault and/or child abuse because she did not have parental permission to do this,” writes a user called a_redheads_ramblings. “She has to learn that her actions have consequences and that you will not have yours or your husbands authority undermined when it comes to your kids.”

But some argued that even though the mother-in-law was in the wrong by going against the mom’s wishes, ear piercing isn’t the worst thing in the world. “I had my ears pierced at 2, I might be from the same culture as your family in law. In which case it's really possible that your MIL didn't see anything wrong with her actions. You're entitled to be annoyed about it however. It was way over stepping imo [in my opinion],” user Jellyear writes. “I know you want your daughter to be able to choose, but she might not like being the only cousin left out and feel disconnected from her culture.”

Piercing girls’ ears is an important ritual in some cultures, but piercings do carry a risk of infection, especially if they are not done by a professional in a sanitary setting. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that the risk of infection or an allergic reaction is very small, but they still recommend postponing piercing until the child is old enough to care for the piercings themselves. Many parents also prefer to wait until their child is actually able to consent to having their ears pierced. 

In-law and grandparent relationships can be tough to navigate when you have young kids, but the hope is always that the grandparents will be supportive and helpful, rather than pushing their own agendas. Banning unsupervised visits with grandma might sound like a harsh punishment, but ear piercing isn’t the same thing as simply giving the baby too much sugar or letting them skip naptime. 

Read next: What to do when Grandma doesn’t respect your parenting rules

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