You have given your teen nearly everything she has asked for, and then some. Now, she wants a tattoo. Were you to ask why, her rationale would go something like this: “They’re cool! All the kids at school have ‘em.” How do you say no to logic like that? Yet, you are concerned about how a tattoo now might impact her culturally as well as her future career and family. You sense that tattoos will likely cast her as a rebel by authority figures rather than the sweet angel that you know and love; you have heard a few employment rejection stories; you might even know of a forlorn tattooed individual rebuffed by a love interest; and, surely, you have seen the not-so-flattering bleeding ink on wrinkled skin.
The thing about teens is that they are caught in the stage between childhood and adulthood; they are children; yet, they are charged with learning to become responsible adults. Teens change their minds about nearly everything, like erasure marks on their homework. However, life is not as simple as scratching out a word. This is why responsible parenting is so necessary. Responsible parenting involves protecting and ensuring a teen’s future by helping her to avoid detrimental snags ahead. So, while some teens may want to keep up with the latest trends, parents must navigate between being overly controlling and lenient.
Communication and compromise are effective means to build and maintain trust, to stay connected, to learn what is on your teen’s mind, and to get the desired behaviors that you ultimately want from your teen. So, when your teen asks you for a tattoo, ask what image(s) she is considering, on what body part, and why she wants it. Listen attentively to the answer. Discuss the long-term effects of a tattoo on her future, that is, education, career and family.
As an alternative to permanent tattoos, henna tattoos are non-permanent and can last 2-4 weeks. Should you decide to allow your teen to get a tattoo, avoid tattoos with names and tattoos that represent brands or religious cults. It is likely that your teen will lose interest in a mate, brand, or cult before you finish reading this article. Remember, teens change their minds about their decisions as often as they change clothing; it is a part of their growth.
Should you allow your teen to get a tattoo, set limits as to what kind of tattoo she can get and what images are acceptable to you. If your teen gets a tattoo without your permission, you have to either live with it, or have it removed by a physician. Meanwhile, set rules with consequences that you will enforce; and follow through. Help your teen to avoid making permanent mistakes in her youth.