Convincing Your Parents That a Tattoo Is Okay

Mother and daughter at tattoo parlor
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It's tough being a kid, especially when you and your parents have different ideas on what is appropriate or "cool." The term "generation gap" didn't come from nowhere; it's been an issue between parents and their kids for all time. But it's an even tougher issue these days, as more demands are thrust on young people in order to fit in. Most parents realize that children need, not just want, to be accepted by their peers. Without that acceptance, their self-esteem can suffer and they may carry emotional scars for the rest of their life.

But how far should a child or a parent be willing to go for acceptance? Do you buckle under the pressure of every passing fad? Do you drive your parents crazy, demanding one extreme after another? Long skirts, short skirts, permed hair, blue hair, penny loafers, high-tops, tight jeans, baggy jeans -- parents have seen it all. And tattoos and piercings have worked their way into the teenage life as a "thing." If you're a teen interested in body art, you're no doubt getting resistance at home. So, here are some things to help you out.

Breaking the Generation Gap

The first thing you need to do is understand where your parents are coming from. They were raised during a time when tattoos and piercings were almost exclusively seen on criminals, gang members, and bikers. These people didn't get tattooed or pierced because they appreciated the beauty of the art; they got them to look rebellious and "tough." Many tattoos were done in prison cells or seedy parlors with no thought to safety or sterility. And you are a precious gem to them, unscathed and innocent. The last thing they want to do is allow you to be put in harm's way. It's difficult to understand now, but it really is out of love that they hold you back.

Effective Reasoning

You should know by now that wanting something just because it's "cool" is not going to fly with your parents. If you want a tattoo or piercing, you'd better be prepared to have a better reason than that for wanting it. Whether you realize it or not, this is a big decision. There are adults that spend years contemplating a tattoo or piercing because they realize the seriousness of it. Even piercings are more permanent than they seem because once the jewelry is removed, you'll always have a small mark or scar. This is not like choosing a new style of hair or clothing; even hair grows back. But a tattoo or piercing is something that, in one way or another, you will be stuck with for life. If you just want one now because it's cool, that's not going to sustain you when you're old.

Choose Your Battles Wisely

You should also be aware of the fact that in some states, minors can't get tattoos or piercings, even if they have parental consent. Find out what the laws are in your area; it would be a waste of time to try to fight it out with your parents only to have the studio turn you away. If you happen to live in one of these areas, you're just going to have to accept the fact that you have to wait until you're of age. Going behind your parents' backs and letting some shady individual tattoo or pierce you will only hurt any future attempts to win your parents over.

Help Your Parents Understand

Prejudice is based on a lack of proper information. Your parents may be very surprised that tattoo and piercing studios, these days, are cleaner than your average doctor's office. They may not realize that most artists are trained extensively on safe handling and disposal of equipment, or that everything is meticulously sterilized. And they're probably never going to know these things without your help.

Do research on the procedure you want to get done. Present your parents with an essay or information based on solid facts. Show them that you understand their concerns, and attempt to do what it takes to allay their fears. Ask them if they would be willing to take you around to some of the local studios, just to look. And if they do, don't start begging once you get them in the door, or you will lose all credibility. Remain calm, look around and let your parents see for themselves. Then when you get home, you can discuss it.

The Value of Waiting

If you've tried everything you could and your parents are still dead set against you getting tattooed or pierced, let it go. Before long, you'll be old enough to make your own decisions and can do what you want. Getting a hole or picture poked in you is not a good reason to risk losing your parent's respect. If you can calmly accept "no" as an answer, you never know; your parents may even gain a new respect for you and eventually change their decision. But even if they don't, you have your whole life ahead of you. Concentrate on the really important things in life like getting a good education and becoming a responsible adult. Use the time to plan out exactly what you want to do with your life, and show your parents you truly are growing up. Even if they don't really want you to.

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