It is a scary prospect when your teenager wishes to adorn themselves with a tattoo. Your mind races to the consequences. You predict an unpleasant future in which your teen is inhibited from gaining satisfactory employment due to the tattoo. Or what about the trauma they may fee if one day when they wake up, they realize they don’t find their tattoo attractive any longer. After all, body art leaves an enduring mark on your teen’s life. What if you could avert your teen’s decision by talking it through with them? Let’s look at how this can be done.
1. ‘No’ Could Get the Unintended Result
An open discussion may deter your teen from going out and getting a tattoo – a clear cut prohibition in the shape of a ‘no’ will most likely induce them to get a tattoo. One must be extra cautious if their kid has consistently shown defiant behavior in the past. The consequences of letting your teen choose in this case can be quite bad. They may end up in an unhygienic tattoo place, getting infection as a result. Even worse, what if they ask a friend to take on this task with their own equipment? Looking like cheap imitations of tattoos made by professional artists, tattoos made by amateurs are usually referred to as “stick and pokes.” They could carry greater chances of contracting infectious diseases or even resulting in paralysis from nerve damage lest the needle is pierced in too deep.
2. Perhaps, Some Tattoos aren’t That Bad At All
Research shows that 38 percent of 18 to 29-year olds now sport at least one tattoo. This depicts a situation quite different from what the people in the older generations were used to. Back then, tattoos were associated with delinquent behavior in people. However, research proves that today more people consider getting tattoos an acceptable part of life. Hence, now young people are ok with getting tattoos. Moreover, now people think that one or more tattoos do not make one more likely to become a criminal. So, it may be not be a horrible thing if your teen got a tattoo. As long as the tattoo does not cover their face, they will hopefully not jeopardize their career or other prospects. Additionally, they may still be considered respectful even if they did gain themselves a tattoo that is visible at all times.
3. Delaying Tactics
A way in which you could delay it for your teen to reach a decision is by telling them that you would feel better if they took the time to determine if a tattoo works for them, this being a major life decision for anyone. Stalling the matter this way might just mean that they will change their mind, no longer feeling the burning urge to get one. This could plausibly happen as teenagers’ developing brain isn’t used to weighing out the various outcomes their decisions could incur and immediately chooses the fast solution. Even after consideration, they would still want a tattoo, it may not be bad to give in to their wish as it could signify that they attach a lot of importance to gaining one and their happiness, well-being and sense of identity depends on it.
4. Giving In May be the Better Option
If you suspect that your teen is likely to just go out on a whim and get a tattoo, it may be better to just allow them to get a tattoo. After all, you don’t want them to choose some mediocre amateur who puts their life at risk. So, it may be necessary to support them in their decision and actually engage in a search with them to find the best artist who would not compromise on health and safety measures. Do remember that it is a surgical procedure that should be done with utmost care, and a shoddy artist will jeopardize your teen’s life.
Moreover, becoming an accomplice in this task will also allow you to negotiate a bearable size and location for the tattoo. For instance, a tattoo that is small enough and placed in a location that is covered by clothing would keep it hidden from sight mostly and will not bring in a lot of attention. You may even suggest them to get one without any color for a first one just to see if it turns out well.
Discussing the pictorial elements of the tattoo may also be important. That way, you could reach a middle ground where you don’t have to worry about your teen sporting something that is offensive or in bad taste. It is likely that your teen will decide in the future when they are older to enlarge the tattoo and add more elements to it once they become more self-assured about getting permanent tattoos.
The Practical Way of Thinking About Tattoos
It may be difficult to accept that your teen could get a tattoo, but it may be the best option to allow them to do so. They are now living in times when tattoos are becoming commonplace and they may feel resentful if they aren’t allowed to do as they please. No parent would want their teen to just go out and get a tattoo which looks ridiculous and is done by an amateur under compromised safety conditions. Keeping an open mind is the best way once your teen asks if they can get a tattoo. You never know you may end up liking the tattoo so much that you decide to get a matching one with your teenager. After all, who wouldn’t want a stronger bond with their teen.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.