How to Say No: When Your Child Asks for Ink

Published on May 13, 2017 by Elisha Neubauer

Tattoos are everywhere... and chances are if you’re reading this, that you’ve got ink yourself. For those of us inked folks who have kids, there are some conversations which might arise that may put you in an odd position as a parent. What do you say to your children when they ask to get ink themselves? How do you tell them no when you yourself are heavily tattooed?


Keep reading to find out:


As a parent, it is your job to protect your children as much as you can. Getting a tattoo is a decision that will last a lifetime... so helping your child to make the right choice in this matter is part of the job description. Tattoos aren’t like getting your ears pierced—they’re only legal for those of adult age for a reason. Sure, you can get a tattoo as a minor with parental consent, but there are even legal limits on at what age you can do that—and for good reason.


So, after you’ve finished up getting that killer sleeve and your teenage girl starts talking about getting her own piece, how do you react? How do you make sure your young teen doesn’t run off to some shady dive downtown or one of those infamous tattoo parties and come home with an illegal piece of body art?


When it comes time to have that sit-down, here are some tips to handle saying no to early ink:


Skip Talking About the Law


Telling your kid no simply because it’s against the law isn’t really going to give you much leeway. While some children may respect the authority of the law, it’s in a teen’s nature to rebel—so you may not be speaking their language here. Not to mention, parents bend rules all the time, such as letting their pre-teens watch rated-r movies or taking that sip of beer at dinner. So, picking and choosing what age-appropriate laws to follow leaves a child confused.


Be United


Regardless of whether you are a single parent or a married couple, if there are two parents in the child’s life, there should be two parents in this conversation. If there are step-parents, get them involved, too. Parental units, no matter how many there are, must show a united front. Be cautious not to say anything that cancels out anything the others are saying, everyone needs to stand firm in the sentiment.


Consider the Gender Concept


There is a belief that children are programmed to emulate the parent of the same gender. They’ll take what the same-gender parent says a little more to heart as they subconsciously know that they’re going to age similarly to that parent. Keep this in mind when having the conversation—allow the same-gender parent to make the important points in the conversation.


Pick a Neutral Time


Even though it may be tempting to discuss the issue when your child brings it up, it’s most important to wait it out. Approach the subject at a time when you’re all emotionally calm. Many psychiatrists believe that children cannot listen to or process reason when highly emotional, so if you want the conversation to sink in, wait it out. If there are multiple kids in the household, sit them all down individually—not as a group. The individual attention will go a long way in helping the information settle in.


Don’t Get Upset if They Get Upset

Kids are kids—no matter what age. Even pre-teens and teens throw temper tantrums, so be prepared to be on the tail end of one. Keep calm and let the tantrum see itself through. Don’t carry on any more discussion while they’re emotionally upset, just let it run its course. However, keep in mind that you need to stick to your grounds... don’t give in.


Explain, Explain, Explain


Be open and honest with your child about why you don’t want them to get a tattoo too early in life. Use your own experiences... whether you’ve had one that you regretted and had to cover up later or if you’ve had situations arise due to your tattoos (let’s face it, we’ve all had that one stranger with something to say). Don’t bash tattoos entirely, especially if you have them. Explain how cheap tattoos aren’t good tattoos and that it takes time to save up to the money to pay for really excellent tattoos. Detail what can happen if you get a sloppy artist—that you can end up with a horrible tattoo, that you can heal with heavy scar tissue, or that you can walk away with an infection. It’s important that your child understands that it is better to wait, to save their money and choose a high caliber artist—not some parlor with a guy waving a sandwich board outside that reads, “Cheap Tattoos.”


It’s likely that your child will continue to talk about it and that’s okay. Don’t shut the subject down entirely. You just want to make sure that your child understands the importance of waiting until they’re an adult to make a decision that is so permanent.


Best of luck!  


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