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Tension over the Teen Tattoo


Rashi believes her parents are ‘Cool’. They are, after all, a trendy couple. She casually mentions ‘tattoo is trending’. She continues excitedly about how her pals get tattoos in winter to avoid reacting to their parents. She drops her decision to ink herself with a cool tattoo, thinking she would like to be the trendiest in her friend circle. Parents exchange a side glance; this is not hidden from Rashi. The teen rebel erupts. They try to sit her down to discuss the matter, but she stomps out.

What happened?

Rashi was confident that her parents would be excited about her inking herself. They have always encouraged open conversations. 

Their response is taken as a reaction by Rashi. She thought they would understand her to need to ‘belong’ to the millennial generation. Maybe they are not as cool as they pretend to be. 

Parents were beginning to grasp Rashi’s decision to tattoo herself. Before they could process it, she stormed out. They had always been proud that Rashi spoke openly about her day and peers and discussed movies, fashion, and much more with them. They believed themselves to be liberal parents as compared to their other parents’ friends. So many of Rashi’s friends chatted with her mother. Many thoughts race through their minds. They are unsure if they have too many open boundaries or if Rashi is trying hard to impress someone. Doubt creeps in.

Parent woes:

The rising trend of getting inked amongst teens is concerning. Once used to mark identity, tattoos are quite a rage in teens, and they do not stop at one or two. The more rebellious the design, the more thrill it adds. Parents’ minds go into overdrive instantly, thinking of potential health hazards like transmission of diseases through unsanitary needles, scarring, hippy culture, physical pain caused during the tattoo inking, or even questioning themselves.

As hard as it seems, parents must constantly remind themselves that adolescence is the time of ‘individuating’.

Adolescence is a time of transitions in the hormonal system leading to physical changes and mood swings. The body is altering, and emotions are varying. All around them, everything is changing at a rapid speed. The unruly acts of teens seem to have no explanation, and teens refuse to listen to their parents. ‘I am not a child anymore’ becomes their patent answer. Parents begin to feel helpless or even harassed sometimes. 

In this case, the parents try to convince Rashi that they are not entirely anti-tattoo. Their concerns are as follows:

  • Is it legal to get a tattoo at a young age? 
  • Does Rashi have a design in mind?
  • If yes, would she like to discuss options?
  • Do the chosen designs have any religious meaning that could mean some consequences?
  • What will happen as she grows physically and the skin stretches?
  • Will the school allow it?
  • How would a tattoo be perceived in the workplace at a later stage?
  • How will other parents perceive them?

As much as it is difficult to accept some of the so-called fitting-in trends, parents need to see their teen’s point of view, which might help steer the conversation to allow them to make an informed choice or delay the ask.

As parents, one can help your teen gently yet firmly. 

About the author:  N.Radha Arora is a special educator and yoga teacher for young adults with special needs. As an avid reader, she finds solace in books or the classroom vibe with her students.

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