I think the parent who flat out refuses to let a child get a tattoo is courting trouble as it is going to seem unreasonable to the child. Above all, you do not want your child going off on their own to get a tattoo, so even if you don't like the idea, if your child is determined, it is better to be a part of it.
Allowing my child to get a tattoo would at least allow me to guide the process and protect them against potentially grave consequences.
I would buy some time by pointing out that it is a serious decision and you are open to talking about it. I want to understand why a tattoo appealed to my child. Where did they get the idea? How will it change their sense of themselves? Having a deep understanding of why my child wants a tattoo may help me with ideas for redirecting their interest and getting their needs met in some other way.
If my child is absolutely determined, I would help them find a reputable place to get a tattoo and educate them about the risks of infections and disease. I may not love tattoos, but if I help them find the right place, at least they can be safe.
By being part of the conversation, I will have more influence over what and where they get a tattoo. While tattoos are getting popular, people such as school admissions officials and potential employers may still disapprove of them, so choosing a tattoo location that can be covered up would be a good compromise.
I will also first recommend for them to start small and see how that feels, or try to get them to agree to try out a temporary tattoo or henna.
Ever since I can remember, the idea of tattoos was forbidden in my family. I was taught that mutilating one’s body is against our Jewish religion. In addition, my grandparents were Holocaust survivors who had identification numbers tattooed on their arms against their will. Getting a tattoo by choice would be extremely disrespectful to my deceased grandma and grandpa, and ruin my beautiful skin, they said.
All I knew was that my parents would kill me if I ever got one, so I never did. I was too scared, even in my 20s.
Fast forward many years and I am now a mum of three boys. They think it’s super cool to have tattoos so are always asking me to put fake ones on them.
Would I want my kids to get one for real when they are older? No, not particularly. I am definitely all for my children being creative and expressing themselves but I don’t want them to regret a decision that cannot be taken back.
What if someone dares them to get a really dumb tattoo in a very dumb place and it haunts them for life? Perhaps if the tattoo said, "I love my mum", my reaction would be different.
I know that when you tell a teenager not to do something, they only want to do it more. Therefore, if my kids approach me when they are older with an interest in a tattoo, I will have a mature discussion instead of threatening their life. If they do it behind my back—which is pretty likely—all bets are off.
I like to think I am hip and open, artistic and creative so maybe one day, I will get a matching tattoo with my boys or even my mum. Imagine that!