Saving the World One Teen at a Time - Column on Parenting Tweens and Teens

Inked.

by Kristy Campbell

 

My girlfriend sent me a message on Facebook: "I can’t believe you let Katie get a tattoo!" My friend has small kids all under the age of 10, so I understood her shock. My reply was simple: I didn’t let her. I didn’t even approve…but I did support her. Rules change when your kids turn 18.

 

My daughter has wanted a tattoo for her 18th birthday for years. She used to talk about what she would get, where she would put it, and I always ignored her. I don’t like tattoos. From my midlife perspective, I don’t see the need for ink. And if anything, I’ve heard too many stories of job applicants losing jobs or teachers with tramp stamps peeking out of their clothing at back-to-school nights, and the overall image that tattoos send to me isn’t a positive one.

 

As my daughter’s 18th birthday month approached and the tattoo talk gained steam, we sat down to discuss it. Much like when she wanted her belly button pierced, we had a conversation around the whys, the hows, and the risks. Unlike a piercing, though, I focused my argument on the fact that a tattoo is permanent. When you are 18, it might be cool. When you are in your 30’s and your kids ask about it, it might not be so cool. When you are in your 60’s and the skin is sagging and the tattoo is distorted, you may wish it weren’t there. I pointed out that Kelly Ripa has a tattoo of a rose on her ankle and every time is comes up, she says how much she regrets it. Katie asked who Kelly Ripa is.

 

It seems every one of my daughter’s contemporaries has one if not multiple tattoos…every actress, every singer, and most of her friends have been inked. It is de rigueur for this generation. I don’t really get it, but it reminded me of when I begged my parents for a double piercing in one ear. My dad couldn’t understand why one hole in each ear wasn’t sufficient. Truth is, I didn’t really understand either, but I just knew I had to do it. I begged and begged and begged until finally one Saturday, my dad took me to the mall and I got the third hole put in my head. I’m pretty sure the hole was closed up by the following year since I never really liked it. Every once in awhile when I see the tiny scar on my ear, I remember the conviction of my youth…must have ear pierced, must have ear pierced, must have ear pierced. Oh, maybe not.

 

Katie went ahead with her plan to find the best possible tattoo artist at the best possible tattooing shop. She made her appointment on her actual birthday and began to design her tattoo. I chose not to deal with it secretly hoping she’d change her mind. But, alas, her birthday came and after cake, she left with her friends to start the process. I met her at the shop about a half an hour too late. When I walked in and saw the design covering what looked like her entire torso, I wanted to faint, throw up, and strangle her…all at the same time. Why would she ruin her beautiful body?

kmayer
09.25.10

My oldest is 18 and off to college ... youngest is 11. And while I have no patience whatsoever for young moms, I know they think I'm a freak. We were all them once, and they'll soon be us. Patience everybody, don't be so quick to judge until your household contains the same dynamics!

KMayer
http://returntoworkmom.blogspot.com/

celticscotian
09.24.10

Being an inked and pierced professional, this article caught my eye in the e-newsletter. I think you wrote a beautiful article and hit the key point on the head...we've bigger fish to fry in the worries department as parents.

I do wonder how this will play out for us with our (now 5 yr old) daughter. She loves my "drawings" to the point that she added some to a couple of her baby dolls when she was 2. My husband, however, is ink free and, frankly, really dislikes tattoos. He respects that I came with some but would appreciate it if I didn't add to the collection. I love him and respect his wishes. The other tattooed posters seem to have come from households where both parents feel the same about body art. Coming from such different places with our feelings about tattoos in our house, it will be interesting to see how we muddle through this if it should come up down the line.

sea-mom
09.22.10

Interesting read...I'm in my late 30's and have always wanted a small tattoo, but could never muster up the courage to do it. For many reasons mostly, hearing my mother's reasons echoing in my head. Now more than ever it continues to come up. I have drawings and notes and have several ideas. My husband is supportive, but doesn't understand why I would want one, also religiously doesn't believe our bodies were made for permanent tattoos. My friend got inked at 40 when her 20 year-old decided she wanted one. These days I don't see them as bad as long as they look tasteful. Still not sure though??

BamzItsMeg
09.17.10

I really loved this article, especially from the perspective of the now-twenty year old daughter who ran out to get her first tattoo the week after my eighteenth birthday. It was a design that I had spent years considering, months designing, and a ton of time considering where exactly I wanted it placed. Both my parents had always said that I'd grow out of wanting it or that I'd change my mind when the time came, but when my birthday came and went and I had booked my appointment at the tattoo place, each of them reacted in extremely different ways.
My dad begged, forbade, warned and even tried to pay me not to get it, saying that I would regret it (Every time I see him now, he still asks me "do you regret that thing yet?")
My mom, even though she wasn't crazy about the idea either, supported me and came to the parlor with me and my best friend (who was also getting one done), had the artist explain the whole process to her and made sure it was clean and safe. After it was done she said that she was happy that I had gotten it in such a good size and place (it's about an inch and a half in diameter and about a third of the way up my forearm so that it's covered if I wear long sleeves) and that it was actually pretty nice!

A year later, she and I visited the parlor again because I had another design in mind. After I had filled out all the paperwork but before we got started, she pulled me aside and said "you know, you haven't put as much thought into this one as you did the last one...are you sure about this?" I realized that she was probably right and that the parlor would always be there if I decided that it really was right for me. It's something I'm still considering but I know that if she hadn't been as supportive as she was or had tried to blatantly tell me it was a bad idea, I would have rebelled and just gotten it done. Take note, parents!

MonkeyButt
09.16.10

From one mom to another, I'm proud of you! We can only control our "kids" so long and then we have to stand back and let them fly on their own. I'm not saying it's easy, or ever will be. My son turned 18 today. I am blessed to have a level headed, good hearted son. He hates drinking, smoking and drugs. I have offered to take him to get a tatoo if he wants one. I just figured I'd make the offer, and if he said yes, then I would be allowed to be part of his venture. I'd rather do that, then have him walk in one day and say, "Hey mom, guess what I got?!" All moms have their way of raising their kids, and we all just have to stick together. We have to just love our kids, support them in their decisions, advise if needed and wanted, and pray.

SolsMama
09.13.10

It sounds like your daughter went about her tattoo in the right way! Well planned and thought out. I see no reason why she would regret her piece of art, but rather love it with age! And by the time she starts having children, tattoo's will be the norm for her generation. My daughter loves her daddy's "cartoons" (aka his full sleeves on both arms). Being an open minded person, I would allow her to do what she will with her body when she turns 18. All I can do is tell her the POSSIBLE downsides and allow her to make her own assessment. Hopefully, by that time, tattoo's will be more excepted in more occupations so not "gettting the job" will be a thing of the past. A tattoo doens't make the person, personality and attitude do!

WhereParentsTalk
09.10.10

Good article! Best of luck to you on this new post 18-year old parenting path :)

http://www.whereparentstalk.com

genymom
09.08.10

I have to share this: My mom was brilliant regarding tattoos and being 18. She certainly could not change the laws regarding how old we could be and get tattoos, but she knew how to make sure that we didn't get one. She basically told us that if we ever wanted to see a dime of her money for college, we would not dare get a tattoo. She told us that the day we graduated college and were financially independent, that we could cover our bodies in tattoos if we wanted. I think she knew the secret...that when you are 18 you want a tattoo really badly...but that when you are 22, the desire is not so strong. I have to say, my wise mother did indeed end up with 4 grown and high-achieving children that are all tattoo free!

genymom
09.08.10

I have to share this: My mom was brilliant regarding tattoos and being 18. She certainly could not change the laws regarding how old we could be and get tattoos, but she knew how to make sure that we didn't get one. She basically told us that if we ever wanted to see a dime of her money for college, we would not dare get a tattoo. She told us that the day we graduated college and were financially independent, that we could cover our bodies in tattoos if we wanted. I think she knew the secret...that when you are 18 you want a tattoo really badly...but that when you are 22, the desire is not so strong. I have to say, my wise mother did indeed end up with 4 grown and high-achieving children that are all tattoo free!

genymom
09.08.10

I have to share this: My mom was brilliant regarding tattoos and being 18. She certainly could not change the laws regarding how old we could be and get tattoos, but she knew how to make sure that we didn't get one. She basically told us that if we ever wanted to see a dime of her money for college, we would not dare get a tattoo. She told us that the day we graduated college and were financially independent, that we could cover our bodies in tattoos if we wanted. I think she knew the secret...that when you are 18 you want a tattoo really badly...but that when you are 22, the desire is not so strong. I have to say, my wise mother did indeed end up with 4 grown and high-achieving children that are all tattoo free!