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  • Writer's pictureTrish

Talking Tats

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

Hey Trish:

My 17 year old son incessantly talks about getting a tattoo when he turns 18. I know times are changing and tattoos are not as taboo as they used to be. However, I have many friends that have told me once they get one, they will want more and more. I want to be supportive of his creativity, but I also don’t want him to make an irreversible mistake. How do I talk to him without being too permissive or being a pride?


Worried Mom

Hey Worried Mom!

Thanks for writing and sharing your concerns about your son getting a tattoo. Well our generation struggles with new attitudes about ink art, I want to say that ultimately I believe it is a personal choice. However until our children are truly adult enough to make these decisions, it is our responsibility to communicate why life long choices like these might not be the best to make when you are still a teenager.

I completely understand what you were going through. My son and daughter both wanted a tattoo when they were teenagers. Initially, I told them if they wanted a tattoo after they turned 18, then they needed to write down what it was that they wanted on their tattoo on a sheet of paper. I will keep that paper for them. If after three years they still wanted the same tattoo, we would buy that for them as a gift. My daughter outgrew the desire. My son however, did not.

Because my son was going to college, we asked him to hold off on getting a tattoo. That lasted one semester. He got a tattoo without telling us on his arm. When he finally came clean about his new piece of art, we had another discussion. This time it was more direct. We told him that because we were helping him with college, he was our investment. This investment was similar to how a bank would loan money to one of its clients. Just as a bank put stipulations on a loan. We said we are going to put a stipulation on his loan. If he was going to receive more money for college, then he was not to get another tattoo until he received his first job. The reason for this was twofold. The first reason obviously was to ensure that the frenzy to get another would be slowed down. The second reason was to show my son that we loved him and it was time for him to make adult decisions while weighing consequences first. We didn’t say that he couldn’t get another one, but that if he did, he would need to repay our outstanding loans. We envisioned this lesson to be that we were giving him choices and it was up to him to make the choice and be satisfied with the consequences.

I want to end this by saying he has graduated and found a job. For better or for worse he has in the first year gotten three more tattoos. Although I wish he would have taken more time to reflect on his new purchases, they are his. He knows how we feel, but most importantly, he knows we love him no matter what.

Hopefully this advice helps in someway. If your son is not going to college or is not planning on living at home once he graduates from high school, then find something that you can use as a tool to show him that he is still your investment.

Ultimately, showing them your love and trying to impart your knowledge to them in a respectful way is always a win! Maybe his first tattoo will be “I love mom!”


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