unicorn_tattoos_2A A friend recently posted a status on Facebook saying her four-year-old asked to get a tattoo for her birthday — and “not one that washes off in the bathtub.” Of course, the idea of a four-year-old getting a REAL tattoo is ludicrous (and probably illegal), but it had me wondering — what if that four-year-old was sixteen? Would it be ok then?

I have three tattoos, and I love them all. BUT, and it’s a big but, I didn’t get any of them until last year, when I was twenty-five. While I flirted with the idea for several years leading up to it, I never felt totally committed to having ink in my body forever until I felt it was something worth embedding. The tattoos I have now all mean something to me, something incredibly important — I shudder to think what I would have gotten tattooed on me when I was sixteen.

This aside, the question still stands: would you let your teen get a tattoo? Why or why not?

Comments on Would you let your teen get a tattoo?

  1. I think I might have a ‘stick to reversible modifications until your 20s’ rule and suggest, for their own good a ‘No band names/faces/symbols until you’re 30 – if you still like ’em when you’re 30, then they’re with you for life at least’ 😉 I have seen a few regretted band name tattoos in my time.

  2. I think my parents handled it really well with me when I told them at 14 that I wanted a tattoo. They said, “The state says you legally can get a tattoo at 18, so you have 4yrs to think about it.” I think they assumed I would forget about it! =D A few month after I turned 18, I got my first tattoo.

    Now, I get a new one every couple years, but I have a rule of thumb for myself. I generally think about it (with a design in mind) for a year before I actually get it just to make sure it is what I want and not just a phase. I imagine that this is what I’ll use with my son when it comes up!

  3. i got one when i was 17 because my mom knew i had been thinking and talking about what tattoos i wanted to get since i was about 5 or 6. she knew it was important to me and that i was responsible enough to handle the commitment.
    it’s been several years and i still love it. i don’t relate to it as much anymore, but i can look at it and remember who i was then.

  4. My offbeat mama and papa bought me two tattoos when I was 16 as a reward for agreeing to go to college. Never regretted the decision, still love my tattoos (both highly visible on my wrists) and have gotten 2 more since then. My parents made the right call, but they also know me really well and probably wouldn’t have made the same decision about my brother. Its all about knowing your kids and how well they know themselves. I’m sure if I’d wanted a 3 foot python wrapped around my neck and chest they would’ve been a little more cautious, but we’re all happy with the choice they made.

    The only tattoo rule I live by is: no names unless they’re blood related (since you can’t escape them anyway).

  5. i think part of a parent’s job is to look at the long-term. studies now show that the judgment/long-term consequences area in most teens’ brains actually don’t mature until the early to mid 20s. so we stomp on a little of their vaunted freedom or creativity now and then — that can be good. it acquaints them with a reality that exists in the real world, that they can’t do everythng they want because they feel like it.

    when they’re 18, if they still want that peace sign on their ankle (the one i wanted at 15)? they can get it. if not, well, that’s a good indication they shouldn’t have gotten it earlier!

    also, for some kids it’s helpful to have parental influence NOT to do everything in life immediately. “you should get a tattoo.” “my parents would kick me out of the house!” it’s nice for them to have something left to do by the time they’re adults. if they’ve already been having sex, taking all the good drugs, getting tattooed, wearing slutty clothes, traveling the world… well, what’s to look forward to?

  6. I’m a moderately tattooed and pierced mommy. I decided shortly after my Monster was born that I would be okay with her wanting tattoos when she was older (by the age of 2 she ws expressing an interest, putting stickers on herself in the spots where I have tattoos). My rule is going to be that when she picks a design, she has to put it in a number of highly visible places, where she would be obligated to look at it multiple times a day, for at least 18 months. If she got through 18 months and still liked the design, I would take her to have her first tattoo done at a reputable shop and would get one with her. I have a tattoo that I got right after I turned 18, without looking into the shop, without much thought to the design, and matching someone with whom I was only friends for 6 months, and it ended explosively. I don’t want her to make the same bad decisions, so I want to show her a better way to do it.

  7. I have 4 tattoos and there is no way i’d let my 16 year old daughter(if i ever have one!) get a tattoo. Making them wait until they’re 18 will not be the end of the world no matter what they tell you! I picked out my first tattoo when i was 13 and got it when i was 18 so i had 5 years to think about it, it isn’t a tattoo i’d get now but it could have been worse. Make them wait then if they end up regretting it they can’t make you feel bad about it because it was entirely up to them.

  8. I’m only nineteen. When I was fourteen, I decided on a few tats I wanted to get eventually. The most important was a tat like my dad has– a bear in the Pacific Northwest Native style. My mom wanted to get me the tat for my 16th, but I chickened out (needles! ack!). She knew I was responsible and sensible enough to either be happy with what I got, or deal with the consequences.

  9. I got my first tattoo at 16, and I decided on what I was getting maybe an hour before I actually got to the shop. I was more spontaneous than I am now (I’m 21), however I knew that I didn’t want a tribal butterfly on my lower back or barbed wire around my arm (anyone who has those, you rock too :)), I knew I wanted something meaningful to me AT THE TIME. Because it was meaningful to me at the time, it still is now. I got ‘loyalty’ in a simple script across my foot. I dislike discrediting tattoo designs that come out of a book because the reason they are in a book is because they are generally amazing pieces that weave common threads through people. We are after all only human and we experience all the same emotions and express them in very similar ways, ex. a flower to represent a death of a loved one, birth of a child, a new beginning of your own life, anything and everything. So simply saying no because someone else has that tattoo is silly. If my kid picked up a book of Sailor Jerry designs and picked out the classic ‘homeward bound’ ship I would be proud. Also the whole talk of regretting tattoos makes me sad. You shouldn’t regret the tattoo you got that expressed something meaningful to you, you should celebrate it a a part of your life that you’re currently not living anymore.

  10. i would be more ok with something not so permanent like piercings or dyed hair or something like that as long as my child could have those things at their school. I would hope that my child will be open with me about it things like this though, i would much rather be able to take them to a reliable artist than some random person and run the risk of getting an infection. i would pay for them to get a tattoo or piercing if the trusted me enough to let me take them!

  11. Honestly, I would allow my daughter too, depending on what the tattoo was and what she wanted it for. If it was something that I know is not important in life (song lyric/ boyfriend name/ i love someone) definitely not. But if it was something honoring someone who’s passed in the family, something like that, meaningful and beautiful, something I could see myself getting, I’d let her.

  12. I got my first tattoo when I was 16, actually, and seven years later, I still love it just as much. I’m very close to my mother so when I brought up the idea of getting matching tattoos she was all for it. I got a celtic star and moon, she got a celtic sun. It has a lot of meaning for me. As far as my future child(ren), it would really depend. Maturity level is the biggest issue, some 16 year olds are fully capable of making that type of decision/commitment with real thought and meaning, while others are fully capable of making stupid decisions to try to look cool. It really depends on the kid, their maturity level, and of course what the tattoo they are wanting is. But the truth of the matter is, it’s their body and I’d like my future kid or kids to have as much freedom as possible when it comes to expressing themselves, same as I was raised. And it wouldn’t be on my body for the rest of my life.

  13. As a daughter (on the flipside of this) and a fan of sharpies, I had the tattoo i ended up getting drawn on for over a year. It got to the point that when i finally did get it inked, no one even noticed!! I think being dedicated to the idea and completely sure of it helps a lot. The “why” behind a tattoo can be just as if not more important that the actual tattoo. (it helped calm my parents that, when planning tattoos i realized i was going to go on to teach third graders. my tattoos are a bit like wheres waldo…and i have to go out of my way to show them off)

  14. I am 17, when I was 14 I was in a severe car accident as a passenger, my foot got entirely de-gloved I would like to get a tattoo on my skin graft to make it more unique. But I have taken my time to figure out what possible tattoos I would want permanently and I know the tattoo artist and his shop very well he does some of the best tattoo work I have ever seen (and I have seen a lot, I have looked online and at pretty much every tattoo shop in my town (which there are a lot) and his shop is sanitary (they open brand new needles right in front of you) I know when I officially decide on my tattoo (which I am very close to doing so) then it will be one that I will not regret.

  15. I think it’s all about what they want and why they want it. I know when I was a teen of coarse who had them, not many people. But I wasn’t one of the normally seen teens. I didn’t want it to be cool or to show off. I wanted it bcuase my dad is in the US ARMY and serving in afganistan and what I wanted was right before he deployed I wanted and picture of him and take it to a tattoo parlor and get it on my bicept. Somewhere sometimes noticeable. You know it’s there and if needed you can hide it

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