At first thought, a tattoo parlor may not strike you as the ideal haunt for your child. But is it actually the best place to get your child's first piercing?

In "Why I Took My 7-Year-Old to a Tattoo Parlor," reporter Bonnie Rochman explains just that. But it's not what you think.

When you see someone with tattoos and piercings, it's very likely that they had them all done at the same place. And right along with noses, navels and eyebrows, tattoo artists pierce ears. Also, it's a much more sanitary -- and less painful -- experience, than visiting one of those mall piercing kiosks.

The benefits are numerous, but the mains ones to consider are these:

  • Reputable tattoo parlors are state-regulated and equipped with sterilizers -- such as autoclaves exactly like those used for surgical tools -- that piercing kiosks are not.
  • Tattoo artists are well-trained in how to make an often pain-inducing experience as safe and pleasant as possible.
  • The aspect that kids worry about most -- how much it will hurt -- is greatly reduced. Mall piercers use a gun to shove a blunt-tipped stud into the delicate lobe; a tattoo/piercing artist uses a needle to smoothly remove a tiny bit of skin to make room for the stud, rather than just pushing the skin out of the way.

Finally, while you might picture a big scary dispassionate biker-type when you think "tattoo artist," Rochman paints a different picture:

It didn’t hurt? Well, maybe a little. But so little that Shira didn’t even blink when LaRoe pierced her first ear. During the procedure, LaRoe had her do some deep, yoga-like breathing... In and out, in — pierce! Of course, the lollipop helped too.

Just be sure to do your research. You don't want to walk in to some back-alley tattoo parlor and hand over your child. Do some Googling, look in to different places, maybe make some phone calls, and choose one you're comfortable with.