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When my daughter was 14, she started begging to get her ear cartilage pierced. To be totally honest, I have always thought extra earrings were pretty cool, but not necessarily for my young teen. So, I ignored her like I ignored her childhood requests for a pony. She didn’t have any friends who had cartilage piercings; she just thought it looked cool. And to a girl who never really felt “cool,” this was the way she wanted to demonstrate that she wasn’t “just” the stellar student, the responsible big sister, the hardworking, considerate, and helpful daughter. But she was also my child who always had the perfect justification to support her cause, and she was beginning to work her persuasive magic on me.

As I began to consider her...