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How to properly handle your teen wanting a tattoo - part I

Human Ink - part I

the first installment of a two-part series

Today we will explore tattoos and the perspectives from both the adult and teen/young adult standpoint.


<<< the adult >>>

As a parent, it always seems there are two primary camps for them. One basecamp typically screams that it is a desecration of the body, that your body is beautiful just the way it is, and that that kind of stuff only belongs to delinquents, gang members, and thugs. Then there are the parents that ride the other side of the line and believe that if their child is of age, they can do whatever they want to themselves, with a good ole, "more power to ya" attitude.


<<< the 18-year-old >>>

As nearly all of us adults have experienced earlier in life, once you turn 18, it feels like a wash of invigorating freedom is associated with it. Living in upstate New York in 2001, things were a little different than they are now. For instance, I could buy tobacco at that age, whereas now it's 21. Now let me take you back in time; set the scene. Growing up in a small town, no gangs or serious crimes were present, but I was not an angel; most considered me the kid heading down the wrong path. Anyway, on this day, I was 17 years old and was home at 9 pm with just a few hours left until my birthday. I had my car and a class DJ license where I could not drive past 9 pm unless work-related, as required by NYS law until 18, and I was itching for midnight to hit. I was planning on getting the hell out of my house. I was my own man by law then.

Midnight hit. I swiped my keys off my desk and headed for the door. My stepfather stopped me before I got my shoes on and told me I was not going anywhere. After an intense quarrel, I hit the door and got in my car. This disobedient delinquent first swung over to my friend's house to pick him up, then went to a gas station to get a mess of scratch-offs and a few packs of smokes. Next stop: Denny's all-night diner. I let my buddy treat me to an early morning steak and eggs for my birthday as we sat there for a few hours sipping on coffee, chain-smoking, and scratching off all the lottery tickets.

Wow, it was a rush. It was an incredible feeling to do all of that. But, I couldn't help thinking that a few hours ago, I was home, in my room, like being stuck in a little jail cell compared to what I was now experiencing. The best way to describe this feeling was instantly growing up to adulthood. I saw the world with a new point of view, during the night hours when everyone was home sleeping except for the ones who just wanted to have fun- like me!

Naturally, this got me thinking of all that came with my newfound nightlife: I could obviously be out much later at night, perhaps work some more hours for quick cash, and spend more time with my friends and girl with the added hours in a day (with my new perspective). What could I say? It was the best present ever and nobody actually "gave" it to me. As you can only imagine, while the night progressed, I started thinking of all the other things I could do besides driving around aimlessly. I now had new legal rights; I could start a business, get emancipated, drop out of school, or do whatever I wanted. The thought of having power over my life was utterly infatuating!

Of course, I knew months before my 18th birthday that meant I had the chance to do some body customization with tattoos and body piercings. So what did I do a few days after my 18th birthday? You'd be wrong if you thought I went out and got a tattoo. I refused to get one- even at that young age. It wasn't that I was afraid of needles, and no barriers prevented me from getting a tattoo. The only task I would have had to overcome if I got one was a family fight of biblical proportions since I come from a very structured, traditional home.

I refused to get a tattoo because I knew deep down inside my core that I was too immature for one. I realized the odds weren't in my favor and that I probably wouldn't like whatever design or placement I may have chosen back then. It was one of my greatest triumphs as a young 18-year-old man that I can look back on now as a mature adult. I have always had a knack for looking at the "big picture" in the ultra-deep field when it comes to items like this, specifically when it pertains to something permanent and unchangeable.


<<< in conclusion >>>

My beliefs regarding tattoos have always been that I approve of them, and they are a distinctive form of self-expression and art. There is one glaring exception to my outlook though: maturity. Teens and young adults are still too impressionable by their peers, social media, and the newest trends and fads. So, yes, there are exceptions to that rule too. For example, a tattoo memorializing your best friend or close family member that passed away, being a die-hard sports fan of a particular team for all your life, or some symbolism ink (like sisters each getting matching tattoos)- but even then, be careful. There is no right or wrong answer; these are my principles regarding tattoos.


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<<< still to come >>>

In the following article, I will further explain and explore my ideology and explain THREE critical actions necessary to ensure your not-so-little-child thoroughly thinks their decisions through- and what you can do to guide them in the right direction. So stay tuned, and in the meantime, I want to listen to your opinions on this topic, so please leave a comment below!


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