My other half and I are fairly inked. I mean, after all, he’s a tattoo artist and I’m a tattoo blogger. Clearly, we’re in love with the industry. Between us, we have four children—with an age range that spans from 2 years to 14 years of age. Our kids are involved in so many activities, including Boy Scouts, soccer, softball, volleyball, and cross country. Needless to say, we spend a lot of time at school functions and other children-based activities.
When we’re not at school-sponsored functions, we spend our weekends doing other things with our kids, like theme parks, nature walks, and playground centers. We are highly focused on our children. In fact, they pretty much dominate every decision we make—including our not-so-contemporary career choices. We’re very involved parents.
So, let me just say that we are aware of the staring. We feel your dirty looks, hear your under-the-breath comments. We can see you pointing us out to your spouse, shaking your head at our appearance.
And I have one thing to say about it… STOP IT ALREADY.
In today’s day and age, wearing ink upon your skin does not imply that we are bad people. We are not criminals, gang members, or other unsightly categories of people. We are not despicable miscreants who should not be trusted. We are parents just trying to do right by our children without losing a sense of who we are as individuals.
Tattoos do not hold the same stigma that they once did. Tattoo shops are no longer reserved for the shadier parts of town which no respectable individual would dare venture to. No, today they are on just about every street corner in every neighborhood—from the projects to the high end of town. Tattooing is a part of everyday life, creeping into our television commercials, our magazine ads, and even our fashion trends. So why does part of society still look at tattooed parents as if they’re corrupting their children?
We’ve heard it all… believe me. I’ve heard the comments about how I’m going to regret my tattoos when I’m older. I’ve listened to people state that I should cover my tattoos in front of my children, so that they ‘don’t get the wrong idea.’ I’ve held my tongue when I’ve been informed that I won’t be reunited with my children in Heaven because tattoos are a sin and I’m going to Hell. I’m not the only tattooed parent who has had to endure the list of rude—and frankly stupid—questions and statements from the general public, who seem to believe I’m dooming my children to a life of delinquency. In fact, the popular website TattooDo posted an article about two years ago which listed a selection of the horrible things tattooed parents continually hear from unmarked individuals.
Perhaps the worst question of all is this one. “What are you going to do when your child wants to get tattooed?” Look, I’ve had this discussion with my kids, as I’m sure all parents who don ink have. My kids love my tattoos. They appreciate the artwork and the individuality. I have one daughter (aged 9) who wants to get tattoos in the future, one daughter (aged 14) who appreciates them but doesn’t want any, and a toddler who draws on herself constantly and calls her body-scribbles tattoos (my 11-year-old son is currently undecided on the matter). While I obviously haven’t had the ‘talk’ with my toddler, my 9-year old (the one who is saying she will be getting tattoos in the future) is fully aware that it is something that should not be taken lightly. She knows she can’t even begin to consider the option until she is of age—a minimum of 18 years old because I will not sign for her to get them any earlier. And, she is fully aware that she should carefully consider anything she chooses to permanently mark on her body. If anything, I think having a parent with tattoos makes children understand the importance of making wise decisions regarding tattoos, instead of acting on a whim. We’ve talked about it all.
I’m not a bad parent. I make mistakes, sure. We all do. Show me a perfect parent and I’ll show you someone who isn’t human. Parents are individuals and every individual has the right to be respected in their own right. And that is something that I want to instill in my children. Everyone has a right to be who they want to be. If you want to dress differently, have brightly colored hair, or have tattoos—to each their own. Do you prefer vintage cars to new ones or listen to classical music at a high volume? Okay. I don’t care what it is that makes you different, that’s what makes you who you are and that is a beautiful thing. This is the lesson that my other half and I are working very hard to infuse into our children—being who you are is okay, no matter how different that is and nobody should ever be criticized for being unique. We are raising compassionate, understanding children—not little assholes who point and stare at people who look different than everybody else.
So, next time you want to trash talk the heavily tattooed parent in the pickup line, stop for a second and think. That mother with her tattoos and blue hair might just be raising the next Nobel Peace Prize winner. That father who has retro hair and a full sleeve may be raising a child with aspirations of working for Doctors without Borders. Just because they’re inked doesn’t mean they’re awful parents. It just means they’re comfortable in their own skin—and trust me, their children are happier because of it.