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Would you allow your child to get a tattoo?

By Mums At The Table 2 min read
Monday, December 04, 2017

Is allowing your child to get a tattoo simply a slippery slope to something worse and encouraging them to mutilate their bodies? What if allowing them to have one simply means being able to keep them safe? Two mums share their views.


Elisabeth Stitt
California, USA

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. 

Would not...

Ellie Hirsch
Florida, USA 

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!