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Navigating Teen Tattoos:
Guide for Understanding & Support

Written By : Daniel Currie

Published On : 4/8/2023

In this final installment on properly handling your teen wanting a tattoo, I will cover three crucial actions. These actions are geared to ensure you and your teen or young adult can meet in the middle and alleviate any stress or animosity that may come with their bold decision. Most of all, if they get a tattoo, these three steps will show how to ensure they end up with a masterpiece- not a disasterpiece.

Cover photo for blog with tattooed hands raised rocking out

Missed the first post? Catch up!

You've just explored my eye-opening personal story. Now empower yourself with our expert guide on confidently tackling the moment your teen approaches you about getting a tattoo.

Cover photo for blog with tattooed hands raised rocking out
Relativity Graph depicting age relevance

Relativity Rating:

High Schoolers & Young Adults

Blog Focus:

Tattoos & Piercings

Read Time:

3 minutes

Action #1
My child is getting a tattoo. Support or Suppress?

We must remember, yes, we are the parents, and we should have a say in their decisions- but we also need to remember that they are now 18 years old and have a legal right to their bodies.

Regardless of age, we should NEVER suppress our children, no matter how foolish we feel their decision-making is. That will not only make them feel belittled but also damage their self-esteem.

Instead, be direct, express yourself, and articulate your reasoning; give them an example of why you feel this way. Your goal isn't to make them feel like you are grabbing them by the collar as they run full force. Instead, you want to gently steer them in a direction that both works for you and them.

Action #2
Honest heart-to-heart Talk.

Even if we do not agree with a tattoo or the representation of the tattoo, we should always attempt to find the middle ground. For example, let's change roles for a moment: you were the one who wanted the tattoo, but your parent decided for YOU that you could not get one despite you having a legal right to one now.

That's a recipe for disaster. As the saying goes, "You get more flies with honey than with vinegar," meaning you will get a lot further in your quest when you have an honest heart-to-heart talk. Your impressionable teen is far more likely to listen to your concerns when there is mutual respect. In addition, there must be two-way communication rather than one-way- or worse, going full-on dictator mode on them.

African American mother and daugher deep in conversation on a couch

Action #3
Subtle Suggestions.

You can quickly tell if your child is serious about a tattoo, which means one of two things will happen at this point. One, if they are not sincere and it feels like they may be doing it out of spite, due to increasing peer pressure, or it is the newest fad, as mentioned in the first part of this series, then you are going to want to pull out all of the tricks and subtly steer them away from the idea without forcing your will onto them. But, remember, it is their body; we must be good parents and help guide the young mind on its path.

Young African American woman with a butterfly tattoo on her neck

Now, if your teen has a well-thought-out and organized plan for it, and it is undeniable that they have been planning for some time now, then offer your suggestions if they merit. For instance, if they plan on putting it on their wrist, you could steer them away from that location if it is a questionable or particular design that could become a disasterpiece in the long-term. Now, obviously, every situation is different. Still, an example of giving some subtle advice is suggesting putting the design on the lower back of their neck so it can be seen and hidden depending on their attire, and they would not need to look at it if they don't want to.

Conclusion
Bottom line on what to expect.

Respecting the decision of our young adults is their best decision as well as ours. Remember, we do not necessarily have to like their decision, but we must be adamant about respecting it. As (technically) young adults, they can now choose their path in life, whatever it may be.

It was up to us as parents during the first 18 years to mold them into what we wanted and needed them to be. Now, all we can do is be there for them during the "good and bad" and hope they will come to us for some advice when they need it, as they realize we've been around the block, too.

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