It never happened to me—thank goodness. My teenager did strange things to her hair (no problem), got several ear piercings (I guess) got her navel pierced (okay, reluctantly) and stopped at that point with the so-called “expressions of her individuality.” I never had to talk my daughter out of a tattoo.
Even though my girl is the best daughter in the world, I was frankly surprised she didn’t ask for a tattoo. Many of her friends did, reasoning that they would either love their tat forever or just have it removed later.
I was prepared with this list of ways to reason with her just in case.
1) Tattoos cost real money. Even a modest-sized tattoo can cost a few hundred dollars if it is a somewhat elaborate design and/or custom design, involves several colors and is performed by a good artist. And a parent would never dream of helping a kid pay for a tattoo, right?
2) Tattoo removal, specifically laser tattoo removal, costs even more. Creams don’t work and skin abrasion techniques are not used any longer. Most tats require several laser tattoo removal sessions and the eventual bottom line may be several hundred or even a thousand dollars. Insurance virtually never covers treatment.
3) Tattoos can be painful. If your loved one is somewhat wimpy when it comes to pain, you might look for an online video of a tattoo in progress and watch it together.
4) Laser tattoo removal may be painful as well—the exact degree depends on many factors. Again, a video might come in handy as a visual aid.
5) Side effects and risks of laser tattoo removal include burning, swelling and infection.
6) If dark skin is the norm in your family, removing a tat will be extra tricky for your son or daughter. There is a greater risk of unfavorable scarring and uneven pigmentation.
7) Laser tattoo removal is not necessarily 100 percent effective. Most honest practitioners will tell you they can fade the design or even make it barely visible. Few will guarantee complete removal.
8) The colors that may interest your child—the very latest in vibrant, exotic colors, including the hottest new fluorescent inks—can be the most difficult of all to remove. More boring colors, like black, are easiest to remove.
9) If your daughter is considering permanent makeup, be sure she knows it is nothing more than tattooing the face, with all the same risks and more. Frankly, many women are disappointed with permanent makeup and find it’s difficult to reverse in sensitive, highly visible areas like lips and eyes.
Finally, for anti-tattoo strategy number10, have a calm discussion with your child about how things may change for them in the future. Remember how difficult it was for you to imagine growing older; it’s the same for your son or daughter. Remind them gently about something they wanted in the past and vowed they would love forever (my best friend in junior high insisted on lime green paint in her bedroom, for instance)—then didn’t. Or tell a story about a decision you made and regretted later.
If all this fails, remember that a tattoo isn’t the worst thing in the world. Make sure your son or daughter chooses a reputable artist who employs all the right safety precautions. See if you can influence your child to get their tat positioned in a place where it can be covered up easily in most situations. Then, prepare to choke back the old “I told you so” down the road.