Primal Teen: Tattoos and Body Piercing
What's a Parent to Do?
If you notice that your teen's friends are sporting tattooed biceps or bejeweled belly buttons, or if you think your teen is interested in piercing or in getting a tattoo, you might want to step in.
Begin by opening a conversation. You might comment: “How do you think John will feel about a scar by his eyebrow when he decides to quit wearing the ring?”
You may immediately learn that your teen thinks body piercing is “gross” or “dumb,” in which case you can breathe a sigh of relief.
If you sense that your teen thinks it's an interesting idea, you might say that though you're not crazy about it, if he's going to do it you would like him to go to a trained professional. (Offer to cover the cost difference—it's that important.) Point out that a “scratcher” (inexperienced tattoo artist) can leave him with a blotchy mess as well as an infection; and a bad piercing can lead to infection or scarring.
Because tattoos and body piercing are often ways of rebelling, you may find that your offer dampens your teen's enthusiasm. If you offer to help pick out a tattoo, it makes getting one a lot less interesting. If you're lucky, you can relax knowing that the next “autoclaved instruments” your teen will see will be at the dentist's!
Because ideally you want to discourage tattoos and body-piercing totally, continue to express your negative feelings about the process under consideration. You should only offer to help if it seems inevitable that your teen is going to take action with or without you. Then you'd like to see that it's done safely.
Professionals also note that multiple tattoos or body piercings are often a sign of some type of emotional problem or immaturity. If your teen has already become tattooed or pierced several times, you might want to take a deeper look at what's going on.
More on: Teen Behavior and Discipline
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Teenager © 1996 by Kate Kelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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