Q. My 15-year-old son went and got his nose pierced without my permission. What's the best way to deal with him?
A. Though it's hard not to be distracted by your hatred for the silver ring in his nose or wondering what he'll do when he has a cold, begin by calmly and clearly telling him why you don't like it, and then ask him why he did it. You haven't said if you officially outlawed the piercing beforehand or if he took advantage of the "But you never told me not to" strategy. If he knowingly disobeyed your rules, then you should punish him for that—not for the piercing.
Then try to figure out his motivations. It could be that all his friends are into piercing (which is a problem because he could follow them into other, dumber, choices). Perhaps he wants to get a strong reaction from you. Or it may be that body decoration is his way of exploring his self-identity. Whatever his reasoning, use this as an opportunity to find out what's going on inside your son's head.
Originally published in the April 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.