New Mom Bans Her Mother-in-Law From Unsupervised Visits With Her Baby After She Pierces The Infant's Ears Without Consent

Does parental consent trump culture?

baby with pierced ears PixieMe / Shutterstock; Canva Pro

Most of us try to follow new parents' rules for their babies, even if they seem a bit over-the-top. When those rules butt up against cultural mores, it can cause quite a bit of conflict.

Such was the case for one mom on Reddit.

The new mom decided her mother-in-law couldn't visit her baby unsupervised after she violated her rules.

Cultural differences can be difficult to navigate in any relationship, especially when it comes to the partners' families. And once babies come along, it often makes the whole thing even more of a challenge as different cultures' attitudes about child-rearing collide.


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A Redditor found herself in exactly this situation with her mother-in-law since the birth of her daughter six months ago. 

"My husband is from a culture where it's not uncommon to pierce baby girls' ears," she explained in her post. "His mother started pestering me about getting my daughter's ears pierced [starting] a few days after she was born."


"I made it clear that I would not be doing that," she went on to say, "and that I'd be waiting until she's old enough to ask for it herself." That apparently was not okay with grandma.

Her mother-in-law pierced the baby's ears anyway, without her parents' consent, while she was babysitting.

Piercing babies' ears is a common cultural practice in Latin America, Spain, India and many Asian and African countries, but it has become controversial in recent years among others.

Some parents feel that it is inappropriate or even abusive to subject an infant to the pain of ear piercing, and to alter their bodies at a time of life when they have no say in the matter.



This new mom and her family live in a country where piercing babies' ears is not common practice. "It's not illegal, but it's certainly not common," she wrote. And her baby's ability to consent to ear piercing was very important to her.


But for her mother-in-law, the cultural significance of ear piercing trumped her wishes and she took matters into her own hands. "My mother-in-law was looking after her at the weekend and decided to pierce them without my knowledge or consent," the mom wrote. 

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The mom was outraged and decided her mother-in-law couldn't visit her baby unsupervised ever again.

"When I saw this, I about threw a fit," the mom wrote. Her baby was "crying in pain" so badly that she took her to the doctor "to get their advice on whether or not to take them out." The doctor ended up removing them since the baby was clearly so distressed by them.

That experience was all the mom was willing to put up with. "I decided at that moment that my mother-in-law and everyone else on that side of the family … is going to have no alone contact with my daughter ever again (or at least until she's a teenager)."


She made an exception for her husband's sister, who is firmly on her side about this, as is her husband. But her mother-in-law had "lost my trust entirely," and she even threatened to report her to the police if she tried it again.

But while her husband is on her side, he also feels she's making a much bigger deal about it than she should be. That has left her wondering if she is indeed overreacting. 

Cultural practices are, of course, important. But parents' choices need to be respected regardless.

It's understandable that the cultural practice of piercing babies' ears is important to the mother-in-law. In many cultures, for example, India, part of the point of the tradition in the first place is to acknowledge the baby's heritage and ancestry. These are deeply held, deeply felt beliefs. 




Still, parents' rules are parents' rules, and particularly since the baby's father is also against the piercings, it's difficult to argue in the mother-in-law's favor, especially given the violation of trust involved. 

It's one thing to have a conversation about the practice. It's another to do it behind the parents' back when they've made it clear they aren't on board. 

Redditors certainly weren't on her side either. Many went so far as to label the grandmother's actions "barbaric," calling it, "mutilation," and "assault." 




Others were not quite so outraged but were nevertheless on the mother's side. "Your MIL demonstrated that she wanted to put her wishes ahead of you and your husband," one person wrote. "It's reasonable that [the grandparents] don't get that one-on-one time."

They added that if the mom and mother-in-law's relationship was good prior to this incident, she should consider trying to have a conversation with her mother-in-law to repair the relationship. They also urged that it should be her husband who initiates this since it's his mother. 




That seems like a good approach. Experts like therapists, of course, stress that setting boundaries with family and in-laws is vitally important when it comes to parenting, whether there are cultural differences involved or not. 

Hopefully, once the conflict cools down, both families can find a way to reach an understanding and slowly rebuild the trust they once had.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.