What to Say When Your Child or Teen Asks for a Tattoo

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 9, 2020
    Last Updated: January 1, 2021

Approximately 80% of parents have a clear answer to give if their child or teen requests a tattoo – no. However, while it may seem easy to say “no,” it is still a topic of conversation that may come up.

If you are a parent, you should be ready for this discussion. Regardless of what your answer is, knowing how to respond is important.

Concerns for many parents when it comes to a child asking for a tattoo are:

  • Health impact
  • Child’s future career
  • Social acceptance

In the past, pediatricians viewed tattoos as markers of “risky” behavior, such as alcohol or drug use and school truancy. Today, though, this is not the case as tattoos are considered more mainstream.

However, when it comes to knowing what to say when a child asks for a tattoo, there are a few things to keep in mind. Keep reading to learn what these are.

Discussing Tattoos with Your Children and Teens

If your child or teen has brought up the idea of a tattoo, knowing what to say and how to speak with them can lead to a productive conversation.

Ask Their Reason for Wanting a Tattoo

Ask your child or teen questions when they bring up this topic. For example, how long have they been considering a tattoo and why is it important to them? Do they want a tattoo of something that is meaningful – or is it impulsive, or just the latest trend? Also, why do they want it right now?

You need to make sure their reasoning is not short-lived, such as this being a popular trend today. This helps ensure the child or teen will still like it in several years.

Talk About the Possible Health Risks Related to the Tattoo

Many parents are concerned about the potential negative health risks that are associated with an infection, the transmission of diseases, and scarring. Some of the tattoo-related diseases that many parents are worried about include HIV and hepatitis due to unsanitary needles.

Even though these health issues are very rare in today’s tattooing society, they are actual risks associated with getting a tattoo if they are not done by a professional in the industry. It is essential that anyone who is getting a tattoo finds and uses a professional and quality tattoo shop.

Discuss the Potential Professional Impact the Tattoo May Have

Many parents are worried that a child’s or teen’s future employer may stereotype or judge them if they have a tattoo. Parents are also concerned that the tattoo would reflect negatively on them.

Today, though, the stigma linked to tattoos in the past has declined significantly. In fact, employers’ acceptance of individuals with tattoos have gone up, and fewer businesses than ever before actually ban tattoos. However, there are still some businesses that do not want them visible; there are methods to cover them that will prevent issues from arising.

While this is true, there is still a chance that the tattoo may cause a potential employer to pass on hiring the individual. Even though most teenagers will likely respond with a “that’s not fair,” it is still something they should be prepared to deal with.

Present Different Forms of Personal Expression

Tattoos are a type of self-expression for people of all ages, including children and teens. This is like dressing in unique styles and having different hairstyles or colors. However, there are not many reasons for parents to control these things – after all, these decisions are temporary.  

A more common concern is that as children get older, they may regret the ink they got when they were younger. This is a valid problem. Tattoos are challenging and often impossible to get rid of.

Teens and children need to put thought and consideration into this decision. While there are options to get rid of tattoos, these methods are time-consuming, expensive and usually painful. Be sure the child or teen is confident that this is something they want on their body for the rest of their lives.

Do Not Give in to Pressure

If children or teens are insistent about getting a tattoo, parents need to make sure they do not give in to this pressure if it is something they do not want their child to do. This means not covering the cost of the tattoo or signing the paperwork that would give them permission. Even if the child or teen threatens to do this without permission, parents cannot give in.

If you have a tattoo yourself, it does not mean you have to give in to your child if they want one. When they reach a certain age (18 in some states, 19 in others), they can do this without any parental involvement.

Engage in Meaningful and Respectful Conversations

Even if you do not want your child to have a tattoo, taking a respectful approach to the situation is essential. Be sure to talk about the pros and cons of tattoos and ask questions that the teen or child may not have considered. Some of these include:

  • How would the tattoo enhance the child’s life?
  • Are there any potential consequences of the tattoo?
  • Is there another, not so permanent way for the child or teen to express themselves?

Make sure you keep the lines of communication open. Be loving and firm in your decision.

The Tattoo Debate: Making a Call

When it comes to teens or children and tattoos, there are a lot of factors to consider. As a parent, if your child is under the required age, it is your call. You have to decide what is right for your family and your child.

If you do not want your child to go through with a tattoo, you have to remain firm. You should also use the tips and information found here. Doing so will help ensure that your teen knows where you stand and that you are unyielding in your decision.

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