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Tattooed Parents With Tattooed Kids?


I am a casual writer from Scotland that lives in New Zealand. My articles often focus on tattoos and the arts.

Initial Thoughts

So you have tattoos—you may be still continuing to get them—and your now teenage kids want to get one as well. There are two initial reactions you could have:

  • Initial shock and an attempt to talk them out of it
  • No surprise and a willingness to go with them to get their first tattoo

Your thought process as a tattooed parent will be conflicting. Thinking like a true parent, you will not want your kids to go through the judgment and negativity that you went through when you first started getting tattoos, nor will you want your precious babies to scar their skin. However, the fact that you have tattoos means you will know the other side of the coin—you will encourage them to be individual and not to care about what others think of them, and of course, you wouldn't want to be a hypocritical parent!

What to do, what to do...

Passing on Your Personal Experience

If you are the type of parent that would be happy with your child's decision to get tattoos, you can still try to guide them in the right direction by passing down as much information and advice you've gathered about tattoos over the years.

You might have made silly design choices in your younger years and want your child to avoid the same mistakes. Instead of abruptly telling them not to be stupid about which tattoo they go for, show them the mistake they could be making, whether it be a horrible design, a badly positioned tat, or even the most common mistake: a bad artist.

Before even going down the road of discussing designs, etc., first talk to them about why they want to get a tattoo. Make sure that they are doing it for the right reasons. Ask them (indirectly) if the tattoo is for themselves or for show and learn what that actual motivation is. Only once you are certain they understand that tattoos should only be for the person getting them at the end of the day (they are the ones that are going to have to live with it on their bodies), should you start passing along the advice about design, placement, and the like.

We all know that when you, as a parent, tell kids not to do something, even if you have done it yourself, they won't take the advice. But if you show them exactly what could happen, I'll bet they will think twice. After all, no matter your reason for getting a tattoo, you want it to look good, even if you're a silly teenager!

So, explain the pitfalls to them, do some research on artists with them, give them constructive opinions on designs they're looking at, or even make suggestions on what you think will look good on them. God forbid you have one of those rebel kids that will do anything just because you don't agree with it, but if you do—then the best thing to do is not to make them feel like this is a bad decision. Instead, work with them on it.

The Bonding Effect

If you are a parent that is still getting tattooed, one of the best bonding things between a child and parent is to get a tattoo together. Not only is it a way to show your support for their decision, but it's also good for them to experience something you enjoy. There is moral support, and emotional support, in both of you guiding each other through the pain.

Even more, if you decide to get matching tattoos, there is a permanent mark of your relationship. For your child to decide to get the same tattoo as you is a big step. It's a sign of maturity, it's a sign of affection and adoration, and a sign of how important family is to them.

First Tattoo Checklist

So you've talked things through and you've respected their decision to get their first tattoo. So what next?

Obviously, you've been there and done that so either write down a checklist for them to go through or mentally go through the process with them.

  1. Choose a design, or find various images if you want them combined together.
  2. Find an artist that is both competent and suits the style of tattoo that is to be carried out.
  3. Go to the tattoo shop and arrange a consultation with the artist.
  4. Book an appointment. Don't arrange the appointment for as soon as possible. Leave enough time for your kid to sit with the idea for a while in case they suddenly have a change of heart. Also, if funds need to be raised for the tattoo, leave them enough time to do so.
  5. Teach them about aftercare and go and buy the creams/lotions needed ahead of time.
  6. Tattoo time! Go with them for support because even if they're acting tough, let's face it, your first tattoo is nerve-wracking!

Tips for an Easier Session

We all want the tattoo to be less painful, but in all honesty, aside from taking pain killers: no pain, no gain!

Everyone knows that getting tattoos hurt. Some hurt a lot more, some hurt a lot less. But if they were intolerable, we wouldn't get them at all.

So to make your whole experience more comfortable, let your kid in on these tips!

  1. Have a good sleep the night before.
  2. Eat a good meal before their session.
  3. Wear comfortable and suitable clothing for the location of their tattoo.
  4. Bring something sugary along to eat or drink during the tattoo in case they feel a bit faint.
  5. Bring a hoody or a cardigan or something to cover themselves in case the tattoo shop is a bit on the cold side, which they can be.
  6. If the tattoo is in a location where they need to lie down, bring their own pillow as sometimes all you get to lie on is a roll of kitchen towel!
  7. Last but not least, relaxation. Bring their iPod, Phone, or MP3 player along to listen to in order to distract from the pain if they aren't a good sitter!

Pros and Cons of Having a Tattoo


Beautiful artwork

A permanent possible mistake

A memory

Possible infection

A bonding activity

Possible allergic reaction

Emotional therapy

Social stigma

A celebration



Risking tattoo quality

A Personal Decision

So, as you can see with the table above, there are as many pros as there are cons to getting a tattoo. When explaining these to your kid, it ultimately is their personal decision whether or not having a tattoo fits into their lifestyle or future plans.

As long as you have given them all the information, guidance, advice, and support you can, then you can feel confident they have made an informed decision.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Stacey