1. Would you put as much thought into it if you didn’t like her shirt or her haircut? Honestly, tattoos are just tattoos. Older people have this programming where they associate tattoos with criminals or promiscuity. Tattoos literally mean nothing to the younger generation. All they are is a fashion thing-no more important to put thought into than a haircut or a necklace. You don’t have to like the way they look but it’s also not your body. She can do whatever she wants with her own body or wear whatever she likes. She might also not like some of the fashion you have or the way you keep your hair. You may never know this because she keeps her negative opinions about your fashion sense to herself. If the worst your daughter does is get tattoos, consider yourself lucky. I can promise you there isn’t a creator of the universe who cares about something so trivial and if there isn’t a creator that hung up on it, you shouldn’t be either. Again, you are free to not like the way they look. You can’t help that perhaps and that is more than ok but your daughter can’t help she likes how they look either. Make your peace with the little fashion difference and keep your bad thoughts to yourself. No one appreciates being told they look bad to someone. Even if someone naturally thinks that, there’s no reason to say it. Focus on the way you think your daughter is beautiful instead, as well as ways you think you are beautiful. She is not you OR a representation of you and she can have differences in opinion on appearance.

  2. A daughter says:

    I’m a daughter who wants a tattoo who happened to stumble across this site. I have a couple things I’d like to share.

    If you’re one of the parents on here who hates their child’s tattoos, here’s my advice based on what I would want my own parents to do.
    Sit down and talk with them; make an attempt to know where they’re coming from. Explain to them your point of view and why you don’t like the ink. Don’t get fired up, don’t call them stupid or anything like that, because then they’ll get fired up, too. They probably don’t get what you have against it. Then let them explain their side of it, and really listen to them, don’t just hear them. It’s okay if you still don’t like it; at least you understand each other more.

    Here’s my other thing: I get it (I still don’t love all tattoos, even if I want one myself), but don’t treat your child with any less respect. It’s their choice- that’s why it’s on their body, after all. They didn’t mean to disrespect or ‘betray’ you, but they’re an adult who can make his/her own choices. If they regret it later, at least they loved it in the moment. They see the ink as art, not disfigurement, so why should the rest of us see it any differently? There’s nothing wrong with it, they just think differently than you, and that’s not a crime; that’s part of the loveliness of this world. As a quote from one of my favorite book series put it beautifully, “You cannot pick and choose what parts of her to love (Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas).”

    1. A daughter says:

      I see a bunch of people saying things like ‘Why can’t we love ourselves for the way we are naturally?” and “We should be able to love ourselves without body modifications.” I hate to break it to you, but ear piercings, even the respectable single lobe piercings that are so popular, are technically body modification. I see babies not yet old enough to speak with pierced ears. Then why aren’t people saying “You should be able to love your child for the way they are naturally”? If you have a problem with your child getting a meaningful tattoo that they’ve thought out, then you should definitely have a problem with the parents who get their child’s ears pierced before they can form their own opinions on it. I understand that the holes can close up if they decide they don’t them, but there will still be permanent scars.

  3. I’m sure that this is a dead thread, but I found it so I’m just gonna post here and hope that my input can help someone maybe. I’m a 24-year-old woman and I have 17 tattoos. Most are small, a few are large. All easily hidden by long pants and long sleeves. My dad has only cared about the big ones and the others I don’t even think he notices, my mom on the other hand has been a lot more hurt by them. I understand her perspective. I am her child, this isn’t her vision for me, I could potentially be keeping myself from getting a job. But she has come to the understanding that the times are changing (tattoos are far more socially acceptable and very rarely keep people from getting jobs anymore, just saying) and it’s not her body so she can’t really stop me. AND she loves me unconditionally, because I’m her daughter. And I love her unconditionally because she’s my mother! We have differing perspectives, but is that honestly something to ruin a mother daughter relationship over?
    Now for my perspective on the more aggressive comments on here. So you automatically see someone as “trashy” or a “drug user” when you see tattoos? Seriously? You don’t know these people, you don’t know their story. I can say personally the more tattoos I get (aka the older I get) the less drugs I do, the less I drink, the more together I have my life. I did drugs and drank a BUNCH until I was about 19 and then stopped that and started getting more tattoos. For me it’s honestly been a form of a vice that keeps me from doing those other things which are detrimental to my mental wellbeing. But tattoos are good for my mental wellbeing. As someone who has suffered immensely from body image issues and an eating disorder, tattoos make me feel more like myself and make me feel more comfortable in my own skin. They make me love myself more every day and love my skin and my body. I’ve spoken to many other women that feel the same way. Part of the lesson having tattoos has taught me is that people are extremely judgmental about very petty and superficial things. What I’ve come to learn is that those people’s opinions don’t matter to me and if you don’t want to associate with me simply because I have tattoos, good riddance. And I think when push comes to shove, my mother feels the same way for me. If a man won’t date me because I have tattoos, great! Sounds like a superficial jerk. And if you as a mother would like your daughter to marry someone like that, someone who is marrying her solely because she looks a certain way and with such a trivial thing holding the relationship together, I honestly question your judgement. You don’t know anyone’s story until you speak to them. Would you automatically assume something about someone if they had scars on their body? Stretch marks? Bad acne? Wearing certain clothes? Being a certain weight? Having short, long, or colorful hair? Then you should probably assess your shallow view of the world. Maybe ask someone about their story before you pass such harsh judgments on them. Just a thought.
    Also, final piece: yes we know they won’t look as good when we’re old! You can stop using that as a reason that we shouldn’t get them because I’m pretty sure 80% of people who get tattoos know that. First, you never know when you’re gonna die so why live for how you’re gonna look when you’re 80 years old? Seriously. I’m not gonna be trying to model or go swimming in a bikini when I’m 80! Second, I probably won’t look great in general at that age and I’ll have found a partner who loves me regardless of my looks (see previous paragraph) who doesn’t care if my skin is saggy and has some blobs on it!
    Try to love everyone, even if they don’t live the same life as you! Being hateful doesn’t add anything positive to the world. If you read all of this I hope I could help you understand the perspective we people with tattoos have.

  4. I am 26 years old and I have tattoos. I love my parents and my parents love me. My parents don’t like the fact that I have tattoos. After the initial shock when I told them that I was getting one (yes, I told them /before/ it happened), they told me they weren’t a fan of the idea but they weren’t going to stop me if it’s what I really wanted.

    I was worried about a more extreme reaction from my parents, but thankfully there’s been no further drama. Perhaps because I’m the artsy little sister of the family who’s always been a bit contrarian, it’s not terribly out of character. For those of you who are having a more extreme reaction and are here learning, I thank you for trying. It’s okay to dislike the tattoos. If the tattoos are affecting how you love your child, then it’s time to take a step back and examine.

    I’m seeing parents here in the comments making this about them. “How could they do this to /me/?” Your adult child’s body is not yours. Me getting a tattoo is putting art that is meaningful to me on my skin. (“Tattoos are for the wearer, not the starer”.) For me and for many in my generation, there is no connection in my mind between my parents and what I do to my body. I can promise you that your child did not get a tattoo thinking that they were blighting something that is /yours/. It has nothing to do with you. You don’t have to love their tattoos, they just don’t want you to love /them/ less for it.

    I understand that for the older generation, they grew up in an era when tattoos were widely looked down upon. They weren’t art for the sake of it decades ago, they were the mark of dissidents and outcasts, and usually didn’t look very nice. Times have changed drastically. Tattoos (if properly researched and planned) are done by talented artists who want the end product to be tasteful. Employers are more lenient than ever about tattoos so long as they are tasteful. I have visible tattoos on my arms. I am employed as an education assistant in a university faculty. The only tattoo placement that I would worry about impacting a job prospect would be on the neck, hands, or face; somewhere that can’t be covered with long sleeves and long pants.

  5. My Annamarie keeps getting tattoos also. Never have I ever commented on line about anything. Shes 24 with a five year old sob abd they live with us. Last night her recent big tattoo on arm of a Lion!! send me over the top. I love her so much but her recent breakup with her boy friend of 11 years has damaged her. I want to look past this feeling bad.

  6. Thank you Cheri. My daughter is 33 years old and just started getting many tatoos that I cannot even think about her without seeing all of them. I hate them all. I look at old pictures and miss my beautifully skinned daughter before all tatoos. I am a christian women. I study the word, my Bible, to find help. She knows how I feel. So I should love her unconditionally. Its just that she has an amazing body and I am asking why? She is also very successful. So I ask myself why do I care about her tatoos in such a hateful manner. So thank you so much for your post. I am a work in progress.

  7. In shock, don’t know what to write, I don’t know how old this writing is so I’m not sure anyone will even read this.
    My daughter asked how I would feel if she got a tattoo. I told her straight out. Mad, sad, beyond hurt, disrespected. And that those feelings would not go away or made better by an “I’m sorry”. I told her no. And she said ok.
    And she went and did it anyway. She disobeyed me, disrespected me, when against everything I had told her. She said it was important to her. Clearly more important that me or my respect. How could she have done this,
    It isn’t even the tattoo really, it’s what she gave up, forgot about, where did the respect go. I don’t know what to do or how to feel.

    1. LottiNona says:

      Your daughter is an adult. The bible tells the man to leave his father and mother and be one with his wife. Point being, she is allowed to make decisions about her future given she supports herself and you have to understand that. Jesus would never abandon one of his children over something so silly.
      I’m a successful, well paid, loving mother of three who has (hidden) tattoos myself. I however, would also be sad to see my daughter with a lot of tattoos but if she were to come home with one, I’d never take it as a personal insult. What if she was addicted to drugs? What if she got pregnant by an abusive person? Count your blessings and love your children!!

    2. I could have written this myself. Same story. Except now she’s 23 and has I don’t know how many tattoos, 9 or 10. She just got another upper thigh tattoo and told me she’s getting another one tomorrow, on her back. Her only uninked place. Both arms, both legs. I’m sick. I’m angry, hurt, disgusted, and upset that I feel that way. I love my daughter, but I feel so disrespected. She lives at home. I love her. But, I am so upset about this. Does anyone have any words to help console me?

      1. I wish I had words to console you, then I could say them to myself.

    3. I’m seeing my mother in a couple days for the first time in over a year. I recently got tattoos without my parents’ approval, and they still don’t know about it. The feelings you described is how I imagine she would feel towards me. But I just wanted to say that it’s no disrespect. I understand you’re disheartened by your daughter’s defiance but she is still your daughter. She is still the same on the inside, and no amount of ink or whatever else that appears on the outside will change someone’s heart. Yes there are life limitations as an adult in the working world environment, but one always needs their parent’s support and guidance. No one’s perfect. On the other hand, this generation is a lot different too, people are more accepting and don’t seem to care as much about tattoos ( I mean unless its a really ugly one). What I’m really trying to say is a tattoo isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t change who you raised your daughter as, or the kind of person she was meant to be. You have to trust that you did your job as a mother by helping her make the right decisions in life, regardless of a little piercing here and/or a tattoo there. I’m terrified of how my mother will react and what she’ll say. And my father is 100x worse. If push comes to shove we’ll push each other away for good, and that’s what scares me the most. Thats not the type of relationship you should have with family members. Family is blood. Family is all you’ve got, all you can rely on. Being alone isn’t fun, especially when a healthy relationship is tainted and ruined over a silly difference in opinion.

      1. I wish I had words to console you, then I could say them to myself.

      2. Val, but I feel like maybe I dont know my daughter.
        The daughter I know would not have gotten a skull tattoo.

  8. I am going through the same pain and confusion. I need some help 🆘. Completely raw feelings

  9. I am a 36 year old single mother of three. I have my Bachelor’s degree in nursing and currently have seven tattoos. Today, my mother looked at me with blind-sided rejection. I reacted becauae it felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. I said “momma, you know I am still me, right?” She said “yes…but I hate those things” while continuing to snarl her nose at me. They are tasteful and done by a very talented artist. My heart is hurting SO bad. I will neverbe that mother. I will never make my cjildren question their value or even the love I have for them because of a tattoo.

  10. Please, God help me get past this. I hate my 22 year old daughters tattoos. I did not see this coming. I feel like a failure. I’m so afraid of the limitations and judgement she will encounter. I don’t know how to get past this!

  11. I have 2 sons and 1 would never get a tattoo thankfully, but his brother has very large, colorful tattoos covering both arms. It is so foreign to my own upbringing that the only thing I can say is if there is a word stronger than detest then that’s how I feel. My husband on the other hand, doesn’t have too much of a problem with it. I think when son started getting them when they were visible past short sleeve length it bothered me the most. Son is an adult but I do think what my Dad said may happen in time. He will be embarrassed by them when he is older. Truth is, when he has long sleeves I feel one way about him and in short sleeves another. I love son no matter just not his tattoos. He went overboard. Glad there are others that feel the same.

  12. I am laying awake in tears bc my beautiful 10 year old is getting ready to go get her second tattoo. I feel nauseous and sick about it… an animal skull on the inside of her bicep. The first one cane during Sr week a small airplane on inside of ankle. I couldn’t even look at it for days. O know it is my hang up. O own it. I know in 2019 how everyday common it is to get tattooed. I am 54… old fashioned… pretty sure I understand why I feel the way I do. 1) I was raised by strict parents…. military Dad.. felt strongly and left imprint that TATOOS were worn by low class, motor cycle driving, possibly drug using… rough .. men. They were trashy…. I know this is a cultural biased untruth but it shaped my perception. Full of untruths… my daughter is NONE of those things. 2) As a mom I see my children as a “ perfect” creation. Beautiful… I hated and disallowed them to write on their bodies, clothes , shoes… w ink… I didn’t like ink going into their in …( an. Organ)…. .3) I don’t like thinking about needles …inking into her body.4) I acknowledge it is her body… her choice… she will have to live with the permanency of it when I KNOW ( bc o am 54…) nothing is forever and one day she won’t want it and I cannot convince her of that . 5) and this one is the painful one… she is my best friend… she knows how I feel about it yet doesn’t seem to care that it is making me sick thinking about it. Literally sick. My own parents find them distasteful and I still don’t want to feel their disapproval aimed at my daughter. I know it is not a reflection of me yet I feel this way. Her doing something o detest feels like betrayal and I feel like I love her unconditionally but o am angry my feelings don’t matter. I am really struggling . If it was on her back, and I didn’t have to see … the very reason I think Toni’s going on her bicep…. so it is seen. I am cool and edgy …. i hate how I am feeling!

  13. Hi my name is Charles, My wife’s name is Deanna we have a beautiful 18 year old daughter named Jordyn. Jordyn loves tattoos and me and her mom hate them, we do not think it looks good and afraid that as she gets older and tries to get settled in her career it will limit her to job choices and harsh judgements. We are struggling to deal with her on this and we all are pushing each other away, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  14. Fiona Dangerfield says:

    Hi Cheri, I have 2 daughters, Nicky is 27 and Laura 29. They are both very artistic and as a hobby, Laura trained to be a tattoo artist at 19. Like you, I am not a lover of tattoos on women and certainly never envisaged my daughters having any. So, although I wanted to support her, I wasn’t happy about her choice as I knew that she would most likely end up with tattoos. She has several, and so has Nicky.

    Much to my dismay Nicky has recently had a sleeve tattoo, which is partly the reason I clicked on your blog, searching for the same answers you are, “how do I learn to deal with this and accept the tattoos?” Nicky tells me “its just art Mum, appreciate the art”.

    Well, after reading your blog, I have done a lot of soul searching and I realise the main reason I am so unhappy that Nicky has such visible tattoos is because I am worried what other people will think and the reflection that has on me as her mother. I need to find a way to work through these worries as she doesn’t care what other people think so why should I? She is an adult who makes her own life choices and decisions, the only choices I should worry about are that she is a good person.

    We are in an age when tattoos and body piercings are much more prevalent than they were when we were teenagers, especially on females. I have come to the conclusion that I just need to see it as my daughters do, meaningful art that for them is just like us wearing a nice dress or jewellery. They are expressing the way they feel through art on their body.

    Can I just finish by saying that I am extremely proud of both of my daughters, they are kind, caring, conscientious and hard working. I realise that it is that I just need to focus on rather than the tattoos.

  15. I’m speaking as the daughter who’s mother hates her tattoos.
    I have almost a dozen rather large tattoos, my mother despises them. I did not get my tattoos for her or for anyone else, I got them for myself as a way of healing. I have served this great country through the US Navy for a number of years and, in the process, have lost a number of friends to the heavens. For each friend who has past, I have placed them in an item as a way of healing. Some are in flowers, some in the stars or specific phases of moon, others in the ocean or different types of trees. I see these items daily and it makes it seem like they’re not too far away. Each of these losses, and the objects they’re placed in, are represented by a tattoo. Some tattoos represent more than one person lost.
    I can’t speak as a mother, but my mother learned how to love me again, despite my tattoos, after she finally asked me about them. Having conversations about them and about who each person was to me helped ease her a bit.
    But to be frank, whether or not she was comfortable with them was never a concern of mine. It’s my body and my choice. I served my country and I absolutely have the write to heal through my body as I so choose.

  16. May I ask Ma’am,

    What is it exactly that you have against tattoo’s or why does it bother you that your daughter or any women would get one? I am curious after stumbling into your blog.

    Thank You Kindly,

    Miriam T.

  17. I have mixed feelings. Part of me is still angry and by joining this group I feel like I accepted this and I don’t want to. On another note I feel like I have to let go, and let her live her life. Thank you for giving me a voice I thought I was alone in this……

    1. I feel like I am living a lie when I don’t Express myself with how I absolutely despise tatoos. I keep it inside and tell myself to shut up and my opinions mean nothing to her because it is true. If I said to not smoke she would smoke. Drink dont do drugs…she will do that too. Today traditional beauty and modesty is insulted and attacked. I am ashamed of the hard look it gives her. I feel like I may as well accept the fact that we can’t influence this generation with the strong push from Hollywood and musicians. Beauty is a personal opinion. Mine is I think they are drawing attention to something that is not the person but a symbol of temporary dedication and it is permanent unless plastic surgery gets it off. I love her inside but I hate the influence around her but I don’t matter. My opinion is my own and I am not going to apologize for it. In the end respect yourself even if others can’t.

      1. Thank you for your honesty and sharing. I can definitely relate.

      2. Hi Virginia, I have a 19 year old daughter who use to get the fake tattoos in the mail. Then my hubby and I went out of town. While we were gone, she got a small tattoo around wrist. I was shocked but it had a connection to she and I as she inked my name on wrist. My hubby and I went away again and again she now got another tattoo on forearm. “Life is beautiful”. OK, Not happy here but I have accepted it. Last night we are on way out to dinner as family she comes down with a FAKE little silver nose ring. I BLEW UP. She was very upset with my reaction and starts telling me that I am to opinionated and conservative. This is what makes her feel good and to express herself. I am livid about how she wants to express herself. So different from her dad & I. She has always been very a private and quiet child. Stays in room when home. She does go out with her friends. She is a Very compassionate human being. That I know. Feeling so confused as a mom to one and only child.

  18. Hi Cheri-
    I am a mom dealing exactly like you. I am a mom of 3 awesome kids, 29, 26 and 22. Their dada died 17 years ago this May 15th. It has been a challenge, but thank the lord all kids are all doing well. 2 are graduated from college and have professions. My baby has ADHD and has fought with meds through school till Jr. year when she FINALLY was given a 504, which helped with organization and she finally confessed she was not taking her medicine which was hurting her grades. Once we got her on the 504, she started on the meds, and made honor role Jr./Sr. year. Then college…had no passion, so went to a community college and got involved with kids with issues, and she was their counselor.Depressed her, and also boyfriend cheated on her, so 2 years of Community College down the drain. FINALLY, on track, found another college doing Horticulture, found a nice boyfriend but also found pot.However found that way before. Works allot and gets good grades. I did notice a large vine up her thigh and asked about it…she finally showed me her first tattoo. I was so sad, as her now deceased dad would also not approve BUT she was of age. Good thing not visible with normal clothes. I do pay for her school and board and $50/mo. groceries. She graduates this spring and after working will move out West hopefully to Colorado State University for her BS.
    I then noticed something on her thigh 5 days ago and she totally would not show me. It was another 5″ tattoo on her thigh, and now admitted she has one on her fore arm and 1 inside wrist. I am sick. She is using money may be mine on ink. We have a first family wedding in August on her deceased dads side that may send her grandma into shock. I am so sorry this was so long, but I feel your pain. She told me she said I look at her as if she is trash. I could never see that. She is beautiful. But you an I gave birth to these babies,,,and all my daughter can say is…it is my body. We are from another era, me 59, never had cell phones, computers and now Skype? They just do not get it, yet we can not stop helping them, but I do need to make a break. She is my baby too. Please feel free to vent to me, as I have said way too much, just losing sleep! Thanks for your post!!

    1. So glad I found your blog. My daughter recently got a 2nd tattoo. She is 19 and in college and working. I can list many good attributes she possesses but her tattooing is breaking my heart. I keep praying for wisdom and I keep facilitating between not saying anything more about it but I am simmering under the surface, and spewing how disappointed I am with her! I’m sad and lost!

  19. My 19 year old daughter recently got not one but two tattoos and even devoted one as a tribute to me despite my outspoken desires for her to not get one and certainly not until she was at least 21 and supporting herself. I need to follow this and help me process as I feel many of the emotions and thoughts you described. I love her to the moon and back and I am so proud of all she has accomplished in her life but I can’t look at them.

  20. Hi! I have never had an adverse reaction to tattoos, partially because I’m younger, partially because I grew up in Seattle, and partially because I come from a very artistic family. If you told me over coffee you were struggling with your daughters tattoos here’s what I would say to you:

    You daughter was gifted a body. It is hers to live inside while she is here. She is not her body, but she does own it, it does belong to her. While she is on Earth, she decided to decorate her body. Maybe to commemorate important events, maybe to leave herself reminders, maybe just because they are pretty. But that’s all it is – decoration of the body she lives inside. She can’t stain her soul with ink that only reaches her skin.

    I’m an actor, so any tattoos I get have to be super hideable. I got one on my foot last year, an & to remind me you never have to finish your sentence if you don’t like where you’re at. A few months ago I got a tribute to Frida Kahlo on my other foot, because I respect and admire her as a woman, as an activist, and as an artist. I wanted to carry these two thoughts with me. I chose this way to keep them close to me.

    I’m not saying you ever need to like how they look aesthetically, or want one yourself. I just think negative associations of tattoos, piercings, and other forms of body decoration are a part of how people are socialized in certain parts of the world or in certain generations – it has nothing to do with the actual art itself.

    1. In your beautiful post, you give fuel to one of our worse fears. You say you have to hide them. We are concern that because they have them they will lose opportunities through put their lives.

  21. My nearly 22 year old formerly high achieving son recently dried out of college after having himself committed for depression. Now he is covered with many (very amateur – he’s gotten a kit and does them himself) tats. Today I have learned of his tongue piercing. I don’t want to give up on my beloved son. But I feel like he has given up on himself. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  22. OMG, I NEED this! I LOVE my daughter soo much! I LOATHE the TATS! I have been married, going on 34 years. I cannot understand why she is doing this to her body…….

    1. My 13 year old son was in trouble today and then blabbed that his 19 year old sister got a tattoo recently and hid it from us. Thank you for beginning this post. We had spoken with our 3 older kids about why they shouldnt have a tattoo or at least wait until marriage [in Christian marriage the man’s body belongs to his wife and visa versa] so at least wait until marriage and make sure he likes whatever it is…this also bides some time to have the frontal lobe more developed. I am just surprised and feel disobeyed and voiceless…and she feels her husband will love her no matter what the tattoo…she had some piercings done which can close up after college…but this was not even agreed upon and why are we helping to pay for college when she obviously has monies to do this…sorry, it does feel good to express myself. Why are the boundaries we put in place so hard to maintain these days?

  23. This has been a good page for me to read! Thank you so much everyone for your insights!! I hate tatoos, don’t have a single one on me and don’t plan to. My Father had one and I thought it was kinda cool looking but I’ve just never been into them. Now my daughter has them and She is an adult. I still don’t like them, don’t like that She is getting them, but I’ve never said anything. I love her with all my heart and She is an adult and can do whatever She wants with herself and I will accept it as a Father who loves his child. Will I ever get past it? I don’t know… but it is what it is.

  24. Susan Kara says:

    Hi Cheri,

    I don’t know if this is still an active page, but when I read it it sounded just like what bi am going through now. My 27 yr old daughter has been adding tattoos for several years and each time she comes home to visit, there are more, large, obvious tattoos. My stomach turns. I find myself not looking at my daughter. I can’t find a way to feel about this. I love my daughter…

    Sad in Portland,

    1. Hi Susan.
      I could’ve written the exact same thing! My daughter just sent a text to my ex and me saying that she got a new viaiable tattoo and wanted to mentally prepare us before she shows up at my son’s/her brother’s birthday dinner tomorrow night. Ugh!

    2. Carrie Braden says:

      Same here. I did not see this coming. My daughter is 22 and just started getting tattoos. Some days I literally want to cry. I worry constantly about her future. She will be judged. What type of man will she now attract? Career? Will she one day hate them? The list goes on. Im your neighbor in Vancouver, Wa. I think it is more prevalent in this area Portland/Seattle. I love her to the moon, but I’m finding this hard to get past. 😢

      1. What is the current dates of these comments please? I think this is the era we are dealing with. July 4, 2019 today. I did notice that all our kids are around the same age. Is this behavior a mental disorder or just trying to fit in? My daughter started at 17 with fake tattoos. At 19 got real ink. Same year, comes down with fake lil silver nose ring. Wanted to see my reaction. My reaction was NOT favorable. She started to cry and telling me I am to conservative and judgmental. Her dad and I are very loving towards her and we LOVE her to moon and back. I worry about her future. Getting a decent job. Attracting the same type of behavior. Will it lead to drugs? Is this a mental problem? HELP please. Should I have her speak with therapist?

    3. I’m in Portland also. Seems like a “thing” here. My 22 year old daughter is covering her arm. I can’t get past it…. didn’t see it coming. I feel like Ive failed. I’m so sad 😞

  25. Hi. I just wanted to leave my words as a daughter whose mother hates her tattoos. I have quite a lot on my body and don’t regret them. They are my art, my mind, my journal, my expression of self and life and love and pain. I’m 26. I got my first tattoo at 18. I have always loved tattoos. I think some of us are more inclined to find beauty in them. My mother grew up in a traditional catholic household. Never thought any of her 5 beautiful daughters would get any. All 5 of us DID! It doesn’t make her a failure of a mother. It doesn’t mean her daughters are thugs, masculine, dirty, premiscuous. It simply means we love art that will lasts a lifetime and we’re loved enough to be who we truly are! It breaks my heart every time she cries about it or every time she says “well you know you have to be careful because jobs won’t hire you”. I know this. As a responsible adult I know what is professional and what is not. I can cover up every single one of my tattoos. I always say if it doesn’t fit in a business suit, well then it just won’t do. Life is too short, too precious to not fully accept the people we call family for something as small and stigmatized as tattoos. Love your daughters for who they are! My mom has started trying to be more open minded about them. She does post pictures of us and is very proud of all of us and our accomplishments.

  26. I don’t hate tattoos. As a 46 year old mom, I have two, myself. At 19, my daughter now has four plus two nose piercings. What is bothering me is the rate at which they are appearing. I feel that she needs to sit with a body modification for a while before a new one. What she gets at 19 won’t be who she is at 25 or 37 or 50. I fear she will regret them. Or pigeonhole herself out of a job. And I feel the more she does, it is not highlighting her beauty but rather starting to cover it.

  27. I found this post as I sit in the living room with my daughter – we were planning to go out Christmas shopping and she appears from upstairs with all black clothes, black combat boots, green hair, and wearing what looks like a dog collar with two facial piercings. I am just getting so over this phase of life – She is 20 – and has done nothing normal for the past three years and I’m starting to lose my mind over here. 🙄🤯 this look is just so outlandish it looks like we adopted her. I know this is a problem with me -but I can’t get past it….. help.

    1. You definitely have serious problems. The way you feel it means you don’t accept your daughters individuality. Parents have the tendency to plan the life of their offspring, this is sad, unfair and cruel. Just because you gave them life it doesn’t mean you got to dictate the way they live, love, dress, have tattoos or whatever.

    2. Why do you need her to be normal?

  28. Anonymous says:

    I am very heavily tattooed and I think my mom feels similarly to the way you do. What I’d like to say to her (and maybe will someday) is that in my eyes, it’s a similar expression to a painting you hang in your home. Our bodies are temples, and some choose to decorate the walls. I hope this gives you some insight into what your daughter may be feeling/thinking. I know that she wouldn’t do it to hurt or upset you.

  29. I don’t think there’s anything “narrow minded” about being upset when you see your children permanently maiming themselves.

    Getting tattoos is no different than cutting. Whenever I see people covered in tattoos, I instantly think that they have some deep underlying psychological issues.

    As a parent, if my child were scarring himself on purpose, my first though would be to address his pain. In the unlikely situation that it’s just bad taste, there’s always laser surgery.

  30. I can’t believe I found you, Cheri! I’ve been living under a dark cloud since the day my daughter got her first tattoo at age 18. She’d wanted to get one before that and I hoped and prayed that somehow before she reached that age of legal consent, there would be some miraculous change of heart. It wasn’t to be.
    One after the other, my daughter’s tattoos have slowly begun to cover her body and with each tattoo, my heart has broken into smaller and smaller pieces.
    I struggle daily with the same battles you describe, ashamed of my shallowness but also broken hearted knowing that while I may eventually see beyond these marks, the rest of the world will probably not. I worry that the rest of the world may never come to know the true beauty of this precious girl behind the tattoos… that these marks will isolate her socially and bring judgement from those I might have considered to be good guides and mentors for her. Once again I understand this is my narrow mindedness. My thoughts challenge my faith in a God who I’ve known and believed to overcome so many of my life obstacles…for some reason this one seems far greater than anything else I’ve known… including death and divorce. You see it’s in my face daily and as you say, challenges my unconditional love for her. This brings me great shame as a mother as I find myself questioning the depth of my love for her. Sharing with those close to me hasn’t helped as I’ve received only pity … most I think quite thankful it’s not them facing this with their own child. I relive the blame game often and wonder what I could have said or done to prevent her from making such a life- changing decision.
    I want to move forward and I work on my thoughts daily but I’ve found it to be such s lonely experience.
    I’d love to continue communicating and growing with you. I’d love to believe I could altogether conquer these thought demons one day for my daughter’s sake. I want to see past those marks just asJesus does .. to become a mother she can be proud of and worthy of her love.

  31. I thought I was the only parent who felt sad when his son got a tattoo. Good to know I’m not alone with these feelings

  32. Lynne Sittle says:

    I finally figured out why I get depressed every time my daughter gets another tattoo, aside from visually it is not what ( would to me. Every time my daughter gets yet another tattoo step it is a step away (in my mind away (visually) from the sweet beautiful little girl who used to look up to me and a reminder that things have changed from our once very close relationship. My daughter is grown beautiful. If she wasn’t my daughter I would say the same thing. It’s a fact. That being said , I am an artist who is particularly visually orientated.Her tattoos have taught me some valuable life lessons. 1. Her tattoos are an expression of her internal story . Each tattoo is meaningful to her and can be , well….an expression of her fun and lighter side. 3. When I see or meet strangers with tattoos ( armed with my new open mindset) my daughter’s tattoos has afforded me with the ability to ask perfect strangers (especially younger ones) what their tattoos mean to them. It ceases to amaze me what their answer is. For example a young lady had the name and birthdate of her beloved Grandmother tattooed, another had the address of her childhood home tattooed as a constant reminder of her treasured memories she had in her childhood hom5u7her to tolerance, question scripture and In addition to that my new is an lesson of example how she has helped me accept others that are different than me. That is a very powerful life lesson. I LOVE HER TATTOOS NOW AND I’M GRATEFUL for her attend.,kkiop It doesn’t matter our differencess lliterally IS THE THICKE 0Hope

  33. I am a tattooed daughter. For the life of me, I sincerely cannot see how this could be such a big deal as to drive a wedge that severe between a mother and her daughter – even if it’s a reaaalllly particularly ugly tattoo.

    The part about the issue that upsets me is how shallow it seems to me. It is – literally – skin deep.

    Would you still love your daughter if she was ugly? Yes? Why are tattoos different?

    Probably it has less to do with the tattoo and the baggage attached to tattoos. And if it’s not about the baggage, and it’s actually just about the tattoos, you must evaluate exactly how much your daughter’s physical appearance influences how much you love her, because that could be a very ugly realization to come to. If you think tattoos and piercings and colored hair are ugly, and your daughter is ugly because of them, that’s unfortunate but fine (opinions are opinions) – but if you feel unable to love her because you don’t like the way she looks, you are objectively in the wrong. Not just as a mother but as a person.

    Now, if it is because of the baggage, the good news is that is an easier change to make in yourself. It’s just a process of accepting that tattoos don’t mean what they used to, and working through it – for the sake of your poor daughter.

    I appreciate that you are putting the time and effort to work through this.

    I just want you to know it’s hard for us tattooed daughters as well, to feel rejected by our own mothers for the way we look, when our mothers are the people who are supposed to be the ones who know our hearts and souls and hold that about all else – the only ones in the world that would never ever care or love us less no matter how ugly we are.

  34. I myself and the tattooed, crazy colored hair, and pierced daughter of a family who looks down on such. I’ve always been different, but I honestly think these things immulate beauty in my eyes.

    My mother’s relationship with me suffered even before I got any. But it was even worse when I got my first tattoo and piercing. For years she would ask me, “When will you just be NORMAL?” or “Idk why you choose to ruin your beauty with things you know everyone hates.”

    Honestly, it drove a huge wedge between us because even though I was my own person, I HAD to be what she wanted me to, and if I didnt I was to blame because I didnt enjoy or like what she did. She would try to throw me in pink clothes, frilly dresses, and heals. It wasnt ME.

    After some time passed she saw that it wasnt a rebellion, or a phase, or me lashing out to spite her. This is truly what I enjoy and think is beautiful. Once we started talking again and she realized who I actually am as a person, not who she thinks I should’ve been it got better.

    My suggestion is to start getting to know her now, find out about her tattoos, learn what she enjoys, and stop trying to act like her tattoos make her a different person than what she is; your daughter. Years down the road you will have nothing but regret knowing you let something so little ruin the relationship between you two. My mother is my best friend and while she might hate my tattoos, hair, or piercings, she still loves me and treats me no different. It just took time for her to as accept it.

  35. Depressed Mom says:

    I feel your pain. My daughter is 21 and just got her 5th tattoo. I have been in despair. I have not told her how I feel because my thought is that it would push her to do even worse. So I have been silent. I am sure that my silence has spoken louder than my words would have. But at least I have controlled my tongue. I have experience a depression so low I can’t describe it. I fear so many things…everything from limitations on her jobs to limitations on finding the right spouse one day. She has made five permanent decisions she can never take back. I was always a pretty open minded mom and could handle different hair colors or piercings (they can always close up if you don’t want them anymore.) But there is no going back with these tattoos. They are forever.

    I used to be afraid that one of my kids would elope some day. Honestly I’m not afraid of that anymore. I fear her getting married now. I fear wedding dress shopping. It’s something I’d rather not ever have to face.

    I feel horribly depressed and as a total failure. My other grown children have not made the same choices. When it comes to my daughter, I beat myself up mentally over and over. What did I do wrong? If I could only repeat her growing up years I would do something different — anything, to prevent this. I don’t know what that would be, but if I could turn back time I would.

    Thank you for sharing. I am going to read your entire series. Just reading a few of the comments that let me know I am not alone or crazy gives me solace. God bless you.

    1. A Daughter says:

      Wow… reading this as someone your daughter’s age. I teared up. If my mother ever thought or said anything like that about me it would destroy me – I can’t even imagine. I love my tattoos. They’re how I decorate my body, tell my story, hold my values on my skin. My boyfriend, who has no tattoos, who doesn’t care about tattoos one way or the other, loves them too, because they’re the things that are important to me. Anyone who loves your daughter will love her for who she is, not who she pretends to be. Tattoos and all.

  36. Hi I too am in emotional turmoil over my daughters tatoo. She has been such a good girl in spite of the fact that she comes from a divorced family. She turned 18 last week and went off with her wayward father and he got her a tatoo for her bday knowing how I would feel and react. She purposely went against my wishes and got a tatoo. My new husband and I are really upset about this but I feel trapped in the middle. He wants harsh discipline whilst I am so shocked I don’t know how to deal with it. Feeling incredibly shell shocked 😲

    1. I dont think her getting a tattoo was to spite you. Some like to express themselves and honestly in this day and age tattoos are the new norm. You’re hurting nobody but yourself and your relationship with your daughter by having this mindset. It might not be what you like or something you yourself would do, but it something she does enjoy and it’s her body. Stop seeing it as something so negative and positive things will come from it.

  37. I am writing in order to offer another viewpoint, which I hope will provide some glimmer of hope and solace to those who are so upset over their childrens’ tattoo choices.

    I am college educated. In fact, I hold a Masters degree in business. I am 41 years old, and I make a very good living. I have financial comfort, travel the world for my employer, and I work for a successful, big name (yet private) company.

    Our employer is completely fine with tattoos. At any given moment, someone may walk by your office or desk with purple hair, exposed tattoos or other things that help to openly communicate their ‘flamboyant’ lifestyle. And guess what? Some of them are VPs. Many of them perform their roles at other Executive levels within the company…and have been tattooed for far longer than I have.

    I got my first tattoo at age 40. It’s on my wrist. Easily visible unless I wear a watch or thick bracelet. It has not hindered my job performance or lowered my rank within the organization. I don’t cover it up if I’m not in the mood to do so. And as Millennials move into positions of power (while Baby Boomers are exiting the workforce and Gen Xers are finding themselves with increasing Millennial leadership), more and more companies and organizations are going to loosen up and open their minds. I am working in one such organization. We are not an artsy company. We are a luxury global retailer.

    My retired parents also dislike (correction, they strongly dislike!) my tattoo. And it hurts to feel judged by them over it. Parents have children who die in car accidents, or who commit suicide, or who are taken from this world by grave illness well before their time. I’m sure those parents would give anything to have their child back…even to argue over a tattoo…for just one hour. One day.

    Please keep life in perspective. Your children are not an extension of you, no matter how badly you wish for them to be. They are not a reflection of you or your parenting, either. My own father came from a horribly abusive, neglectful home and is the best man (and father) you could ever know. Alternately, my cousin came from a lovely, religious family (parents were pastors) and he basically lived in the church. He grew up to cheat on his wife, became a sex addict and made many questionable moral decisions that were completely the opposite of how he was raised to be.

    So always remember, people are going to do what they want to do…when they want to do it. Your attempt to control a person (and their decisions) will backfire and breed secrecy. Something you could open-mindedly discuss, help with and ultimately guide your child through (at any age) will instead drive a wedge of unknowing between you and them.

    I love my parents. I consider them among my best of friends. I am now 41 and planning my second tattoo. But due to their dismay over my first one, they won’t get to be a part of that journey or that discussion with me. They’ve made me feel like now I must be secretive and hide my choice from them. See, as wonderful as they are, and as much as I love them, I am sad that I can’t be the true ME with them in this regard. But this is something I want to do. So why not just love snd support me through it? Heck, I’d even love their input on what I get, where I get it and how I get it…if only they would be positive, open-minded and supportive about it. But instead, I’ll go underground. Do it anyway. And keep it from them as long as possible.

    So take a step back. And remember, be thankful you have your children…in any capacity…to love. Tattoos or not. And know that closing yourself off to their ideas, dreams and desires will do exactly that. Close you off from them.

    And who wants that result? Love each other. Support one another. Always. We are here for a short time. Fill it with love, acceptance and more love. Life is difficult enough. xoxo

  38. Something to help keep things in perspective…

    My younger sister was the baby of the family, close to my parents, and both my brother and I. In many ways I considered her the “glue” of the family. Fun, sweet, expressive, and very much the type that would have had several tattoos by now. However, she doesn’t have any tattoos because she is dead, killed in a car accident. DEAD.

    My parents are also the type that would fret over tattoos. Very modest and conservative, and at some point or another have dissaproved of darn near everything I’ve ever done. (It’s been a bumpy ride) I know they still don’t love the few tattoos that I have, but they’re respectful of it at least. They’ve been able to adapt and see past it. Well past it.

    Maybe losing a child puts things in perspective a little or something. I’m sure if they could choose between a dead daughter or a living daughter with a bunch of tattoos, they would pick the latter.

    Things change. Children grow up. “Perfect” skin gets old and wrinkles. Bodies fall apart. People die, sometimes suddenly. It’s good to remember how precious and fleeting life is. Any of us could die tomorrow. Most reading this probably aren’t refugees or living in a place where it’s likely their kids will die from a disease before reaching adulthood. Death seems less common, something that happens to old people, not our children.

    For the parents struggling with this, it’s good you’re being honest with your feelings. I can understand, you raised this person from a baby through adulthood. Tattoos are a new cultural phenomen. All kinds of things are changing very rapidly in modern society. It’s scary at times. Different things will cause different people hang ups. You don’t have to get over your aversion 100% or anything, but give tolerance and acceptance a try, you might surprise yourself.

    Love can overcome anything. Be grateful and joyous you still have a son or daughter to love.

  39. Kathy Sirl says:

    I had my first tattoo when I was 18 (I had left home at 16) and my second when my daughter was born six years later. My mum noticed them for the first time about a year after that when I was dropping my daughter off with her so she could spend time with her granddaughter. I never actively told her I had them because I had them for me, not anyone else. It wasn’t an attention seeking act more a matter of fact decision and I just didn’t think any one in my family or friendship group would mind or judge me for doing something for myself.
    On my return to collect my daughter, there was a welcoming committee of my mum and sister (ten years my senior) who both proceeded to lecture me on how awful tattoos are, how I’ve mutilated my body, how they can’t be reversed (that was an insult to my intelligence) and how wrong they were.
    I asked what right they had to impose their prejudices on me and why they could not bring themselves to look at it from my point of view (my choice, my body, my life, my money, it’s not affecting them or their lives in any way etc…) But all I got was the attitude of ” Their way was right mine was wrong”. They didn’t get that the art had been there for a number of years without them knowing and I hadn’t changed as a person but the minute mum had seen one and made her unbending judgement of me, our relationship changed and has never recovered (I’m now 45).
    At the end if the day, I was still her daughter and if I was old enough to be in a relationship, be a responsible parent and hold down a job then I was mature enough to make a choice about how I adorn my body.
    I now have six tattoos, (none of which I’ve gone out of my way to tell her about. Her first reaction has made sure i don’t make her a party to many things I do now) still don’t regret the first one and am already saving up for another. Every single one has meaning from representing the joy my daughter brings to my life to a copy of my late husband’s handwriting telling me he loves me accompanied by some bars of music we had at our wedding. They’re not just random pictures chosen on a whim and I can honestly say I don’t know anyone who hadn’t thought long and hard about what, where and by whom each tattoo will be done. We do actually know they are permanent!!
    Would you judge your daughter for having her ears pierced? For having a particular hair cut or colour? For any other life choices? If you would, I’d ask you to examine your prejudices and explain out loud to her or a friend exactly why you think you have the right to make judgement on another person. In my book, family and friends are to be loved not assessed. Regardless of what she has chosen to do, she’s still your daughter and her tattoos are a part of her because she chose them in the same way she will choose her future life partner or career. Love her for being her, don’t hate her for not being what you want her to be because actually she is the confident, independent and loving daughter you raised!

  40. Some of these comments are hard to read…I am a 25 year old woman with 2 (soon to be 3) tattoos. I have older siblings with tattoos that my parents didn’t like and being the baby my parents were not happy when I first got mine. They’re mostly okay with them now but have also asked me in sad tone if I’ll continue to get more and YES I WILL. They fully believe it’s my choice and they’ll always love me…but what they don’t understand is that my tattoos are one of the only things that have ever made me feel like me, maybe even beautiful. I grew up an awkward chubby kid and from middle school onto the present day I’ve had HORRIBLE cystic acne. Sometimes I can barely look people in the face because all they see is my acne. My tattoos help give me strength and help me remember I’m more than my terrible skin. Try to remember that their tattoos may also give them strength or make them feel beautiful and I’m sure it would mean a lot to them if you helped encourage them to be who they are.

  41. I’m right here with you. My daughter 18, is on her second tattoo. I have been heartbroken and then I ask myself what he he’ll is wrong with me this is my child who I’m supposed to love without conditions but yet I have a hard time accepting this side of her.

    After reading this maybe I don’t know about love either but I try to look past these things and I just cry. I see it as a big middle finger to me.

    1. Oh my, Connie that is exactly how I see it . But I do understand it is only harmful to my relationship with my daughter who has been the perfect child till then , and to my health if our continue this way . As well as causing her sadness . So I am going to try to be the mother I always wanted and aspired to be for the last 20 years and give myself time to get over it . Change my mindset. It will help me and more importantly our relationship .

  42. I am 20, a girl, and most importantly I’m a Christian. I have tattoos on my clavicle, down my spine, inner fore-arms, top of my hand, and inside of four of my fingers. I also have navel, septum, and nostril piercings. My hair has been every color of the rainbow, but a rich bold version. My mother purchased my first tattoo on my arm. She was always supportive and she likes them, she says they are an artistic reflection of myself. And they are. Now for everyone that doesn’t like them, fair enough. I mean, you don’t have to like everything, that’s what makes us all different. But you also don’t have to voice you opinion where it isn’t wanted or to be mean and tear someone down, especially someone you claim to love. Jesus loves everyone, so how dare you call someone trashy, a disgrace, and an embarrassment? You should repent. If you no longer want to speak to, look at, speak about, or claim to know your children or family because they are tattooed, then you never really loved them. Look in your Bible about what love means, if Jesus did that, you’d be in hell. Their tattoos are not mistakes, they are an adult decision that they made. If you have done this you need to apologise to them before it’s too late. They are not your property, they are people and they have the right to think for themselves. If you want to feel this way and don’t want to change, fine, so be it. Just don’t be surprised if you only see your grandchildren once or not at all, or if you never get invited to a wedding, or get visited in the hospital. All because you called your child trash and a disappointing embarrassment to YOU. You should be embarrassed to proudly exhalt your thoughts above the Lord’s, who says that everyone is to be treated with love. My dad is this way and was abusive and controlling of my sister and mother my entire life. He always wanted hair to be a certain length, certain colors to be worn, only natural hair colors, no piercings, no heels, he said I looked like a freak, ugly, fat, stupid, will never get a job, no man wants that on a woman… And you know what happened? My mother, sister, and I live states away and I only speak to him when government documents and money are involved. He will never see my future children, meet my fiancé, attend my wedding. My mom is the one that will walk me down the aisle because she loves me for who I am and is proud of me and has been there for me at my worst. She accepts me for the person on the inside and out. I can only hope that you poor excuses for parents that are ashamed of your children for THEIR outside appearance that THEY love get it together before it is too late. Or maybe not, grandchildren don’t need to be poisoned by your hatred and fair-weather love that is solely based in complete obedience and physical appearance. May God fix your heart

  43. Lynn Vandaele says:

    Thank you! For sharing how you feel about your daughter ‘s tattoo s. I am a christian mom who has a daughter who is on her 3 rd tattoo. And I am having a hard time with it. I hate the stigmas I as a christian woman I have to live with due to christian judgment and societal views. But I am shocked that people inflict it on themselves, the stigma of getting a tatoo, and not caring about scaring or making others uncomfortable with having it. I feel it shows their lack of caring for others feelings and peace. I guess as a society it is acceptable to have pierced earrings in the workplace but lose the 20 piercings as it bothers others. Same with tattoos, hide them, if you feel the need to have one. I feel I have to feel love and empathy for disfigured and deformed human beings, even though it is uncomfortable at times cause it is shocking and sad . But thats life and and they have no choice. But I have a problem when people deliberately choose to get tattoos knowing it will make others uncomfortable and their parents heartsick. Why don’t they care about how others feel? I know this way of thinking of mine is a judgement and my problem. I come from a amish background , and piercings, makeup, and dresscode are forbidden, a person has to conform to be a part of that community, they believe the same and no one is to make another uncomfortable. I feel my daughter does not care about how uncomfortable others are, and that is what upsets me, the tattoo screams that everytime i see it. But then I think wearing makeup pants, and earrings and being overweight ,things that I choose to do probably makes someone uncomfortable! How am I different than my daughter getting a tattoo? Am I just afraid of what others think , as I feel it is a reflection on me? I have so much to work out, I am very 😕 confused, and question my feelings , and I wonder about my doublestandards and how I love and judge others.

    1. ” I feel I have to feel love and empathy for disfigured and deformed human beings, even though it is uncomfortable at times cause it is shocking and sad ”

      Hey, ma’am? Get over yourself. Other people don’t their lives so as to make you comfortable. People deserve to live their lives on their terms. They don’t have to live by YOUR obtrusive standards. If something as minimal as a tattoo causes you to be “uncomfortable”, YOU are the problem.

      I’m 19, and I’m sure you can guess how much I (and other people my age) care about how comfortable you are around us. I choose what I want and what I do with my body, and if that makes you uncomfortable, again, you are the problem. Why should we have to live our lives in such a way that we’re unhappy, but others feel comfortable? So I should sacrifice my own happiness and desires, at the expense of a complete strangers comfort?

      That mindset is severely skewed and I hope to God you learn to get over yourself and appreciate the beauty that lies in individuality.

  44. Violet Grey says:


    I am one of those daughter’s who just got a tattoo. I am 24. Recently, I got a beautiful tattoo on my rib cage that I felt expressed my true passion. It’s a bit bigger than I had anticipated, but I still love it.
    My parents knew about this for a month as my boyfriend kindly bought it for me for my birthday. When he broke he news, they repeatedly said they will never approve, but it’s my body, so I can do with it as I like. I knew they wouldn’t approve, so I went ahead with it, as I am an adult and this is my decision.
    I came home with it yesterday, and I’m not surprised with how they reacted, but I am disappointed with what they said. They told me I was an F-ing idiot, that they view me with less respect than before, and are incredibly disappointed to me. They also threatened to kick me out. When I tried explaining that it doesn’t affect them at all. They will not have to see this tattoo unless I am naked or in a bathing suit (It’s on my ribs). They kept repeating it does effect them, and when I asked them to give me reasons, they couldn’t. My mother point blank told me couldn’t fathom why I would scar my perfect skin with a tattoo… That it’s not pretty now. When I tried defending myself, by saying their issues were the exact same issues they had when I told them I didn’t want children, or changing my careers, and chose something I wanted. That this was linked to control, I was told I would need to check myself and not pin this onto them… This is their issue. Not mine. This has nothing to do with them.

    As one of “the daughter’s who have been tattooed” please reflect before you say things to your daughter. I can guarantee you that your opinion matters the most to them, but that alone will not change their mind on whether or nor they will get their tattoo. They will most likely still do it as they are an adult. That’s right. They are no longer a child, and can make their own decisions. What will happen if you decide to state some heart breaking things to them, or constantly nag them about their tattoos, or barely look at them DUE to their tattoos, will be how you reacted. I’m deeply hurt right now. At this moment, I feel disgusted and ashamed of my body BECAUSE of a tattoo. Something I designed and was proud of, plus excited about when I got it. Before you state something about a piece of artwork, reflect. I can guarantee you what you say to them will be more lasting than a permanent mark on their body. I can guarantee you this has changed my relationship with my parents. If they can’t love me, respect me, or see me as less in their eyes DUE TO A TATTOO, I’m not sure I want them in my life.

    So for all of you complaining about your adult daughters getting a tattoo. Pause. Reflect- “Will this hurt her? Will I gain anything by saying this?” It probably will, and it probably won’t.

  45. I have no one to talk to about this exact issue. My 25 year old college graduate beautiful daughter is covered with tattoos. She started getting them when she was 18 and she still gets 3 or more every year. One arm is covered and now she has started on the other arm. Ugly And trashy is all I see. I love her but I hate her tattoos. I have told her how I felt and that people will judge her and it will limit her choices in life.
    She is meeting her new boyfriends parents tomorrow and I asked if she would be covering them up. Of course she said no and her Tattoo-less professional boy friend said he didn’t care what his mother thought. I don’t believe that for a minute. It’s life altering and never would I have believed this was something I would have to accept. The truth is I can’t. I don’t want wedding pictures if she ever gets married. People can judge me all they want for feeling this way and being shallow. It’s not anything I can change. It is a reflection of my FEELINGS not my brain and not rational thought. I’m embarrassed to have anyone see her.

  46. Mr advice says:

    You have serious issues. Your daughter is 23. She can do what the hell she likes with her body. Get over yourself. Like seriously get over yourself! Tattoos are an expression. And if you don’t like it, tough! It’s not your call anymore, she is an Adult!

    How dare you give her grief over trying to be herself. Sorry if she doesn’t fit into your own little personal idea of how you wanted her to be. But suck it up. You brought a girl into this world who is now an adult and finding her own way. She is her own person. She needs to be free to do as she pleases and be herself. And yeah if taht means making mistakes on the way, then so be it. That’s life.

    In fact, instead of mourning over tattoos, why not be grateful for the fact that (I can only assume) she isnt a bad person. Isn’t doing drugs, hurting other people, on the wrong side of the law.

    You might try and hide behind your religious beliefs to justify your hatred and your sinical dinosaur views, but this is 2018, not the middle ages. People are free to express themselves how they like.

  47. I’ve come to this page from a google search. What I feel is grief. My handsome son has been covering himself in ugly giant home job tatts. I can’t look at him. We come from a lower demographic and his prospects are dismal as it is. The ink just screams ‘I’m from the projects.’ I see this as the first lot of choices that will rob him of future opportunities in life. He now looks like a thug and Im sure he won’t get a job.

    1. S gilmart says:

      I am so glad i found this site, my son is almost covered with them, he recently got one in his face, i pray and pray for him.to quit this addiction, i feel that he is being disrespectful that he does not care about my feelings.


    Wow, after reading these posts from other mothers I don’t feel so alone with this struggle. I am is such turmoil thinking, what kind of mother am I to have such strong hate for her tattoos. I can’t seem to just let it go. I thought I was pretty open minded until it was MY daughter getting them. She has the most beautiful snow white skin. I think of a friend with severe burns and she would love to have my daughters beautiful flawless skin. I love her so deeply and yet feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach with every new one she gets. She did not even start to get them until she turned 30. I fear for how I think others may judge her and want to protect her. She went back to college to earn a particular degree. She found out that 2 opportunities were missed because of their tattoo policy. I’m beginning to wonder how if she has thrown away her career choice totally because of the tattoos. She is well on her way to getting sleeves on both arms. Where does it stop? I would never have believed this would be my reality with her at this point in our lives. She knows how I feel and I don’t want to hurt her with my disapproval. She knows I love her no matter what but I don’t think she understands the real battle I face with this. I don’t know why I can’t just fake being happy for her. I tell myself I’m not going to be negative but can’t just let it go and end up saying something stupid. I’m praying that God will teach me and help me deal with this in the best manner for both of us.

    1. My daughter turned 19 last week. She too has beautiful flawless Snow White skin. She started getting tattoos when she turned 18. They are driving me crazy. I hate seeing them. I thought myself open minded but each new tattoo actually hurts my heart. I wanted so much for her and I believe they will some day impact her life in a negative way.; When she came home with the lovely birthday sentiment that I wrote to her now a tattoo under her collar bone all I could think of was how she would look in her wedding gown some day. I’m still crushed. I know I need to let it go and know that she has to love her life but right now I’m still hurt and miss my baby daughter. How do I get over it? I’m glad I found this site to see that I’m not alone as a parent

      1. Cynthia Barton says:

        I wanted to reply because I’m one of those daughter’s whose mom doesn’t approve of my tattoos. My mom about chewed my head off when she saw my first tattoo, but is fine with it now. She has not seen my second but I fear the outcome will be the same. She does not understand that I have issues with not feeling beautiful and the tattoos make me feel better about myself. Also both of my tattoos represent that I’m a mother. I have no criminal background, I don’t do drugs so I don’t fit the tattoo stereotype that parents attach to people with tattoos. Parents out there need to realize that tattoos do not make a person’s behavior or peraonality, it’s just an expression.

      2. I can relate my daughter had that BEAUTIFUL Carmel skin. Never a mark of zits on that BEAUTIFUL skin. Just creamy as peanut butter. Flawless as well. Well both arms are covered w tattoes, her chest a cppl on the back, below the ear & chest of an ex lips. I understand expressing ones self, but there are other ways. It bothered me soo much, but now Im like -Whatever! Shes an adult. Her life & her consequences. Im FAR too busy more serious issues (like family illnesses).

  49. I just found out my beautiful daughter started a sleeve from her shoulder to elbow. I can’t even look at a picture of it yet. She said she’s a warrior and warriors get tatoos. My heart is so sad. I am grieving. I don’t want her to be judged. I don’t want to judge her. I guess it’s one more realization that she is an adult and not a child anymore. Say a prayer for me, if you wouldn’t mind, to find peace with it. Thank you.

  50. Heidi Christine says:

    I was thinking about sending my mom your way. I’m 41 and she’s super anti-tattoo. I’ve won money and other prizes for my ink. (Most of them aren’t even finished yet). Whenever I go to see her I have to wear long sleeves and long pants. I’m 41, and fail to understand what the point of raising me to be independent and make my own choices was for if you hate something I love so intensely. I had no tattoos until I was 34. I didn’t want to hurt her. Seriously… had to wait until a third of my life was over to become the stained glass window to my soul I’ve always wanted to be.

  51. I’m relieved to know I am not the only mother to feel this way about her daughter’s body art and piercings.
    I also have a son who came out as being transgender two years ago, so my emotions have been really thrown into chaos.
    I’m not particularly religious, but I do believe in God. I would like to think he’s open minded enough to ‘get’ people’s differences. If I can love my kids unconditionally, surely he does too?
    I think for me, it’s the fear of being judged that I find unnerving –
    mostly from other people about my kids’ life choices and what they think of me as a mother. After all, we see their accomplishments as something we did right as parents, don’t we? The same with their failures.
    I considered myself an informed and involved parent. There were lots of opportunities to grow with the various lessons they were involved in, school was important and we spent a lot of time teaching and lovingly disciplining our children.
    So how could this have happened? One covered in tattoos and dropping out of University, the other one coming out as the opposite sex? If you had have told me at my baby shower that this was in our future, I would have run screaming!
    I am trying to work through these negative feelings and I’m trying to look past their appearance.
    I know I did a good job as a mother because they are kind and good human beings. They have their moments, but they have good hearts. I keep telling myself that’s all that matters and I try to ignore disapproving looks from people who don’t know them as I do.

  52. My beautiful 20yr old daughter recently got a decent sized tattoo on her inner forearm. Her decision to get this tattoo caused me to take a hard look at my own prejudices and realized with some sadness how judgemental my reactions can be. This is called ‘conviction.’ We have to be careful we don’t condemn others based on our own priorities and beliefs.
    We all find our way in this imperfect flawed world.
    Actually, my regret is that she asked if I would design it for her and I sidestepped her request. Now I look at the image on her arm and think ‘I could’ve done a better job’!!
    They are alive, they are growing and learning … awesome 😊

  53. Anonymous says:

    I’m a researcher who studies issues related to body image and related stuff, and the questions you’ve asked here have actually popped up in my interviews with women! I’ve had multiple church-going women talking about how their daughters had all sorts of tattoos (including tattoos of naked women, which was a “sticking point”), or how other women in their life had crazy blue hair or whatnot. At first, they were a little uncomfortable with these things, but over time they came to see it as an expression of their loved ones’ personality and creativity. They didn’t come to SHARE the loved ones’ aesthetic or necessarily LIKE the tattoo, but what did happen was that over time, the association between tattoos/hair color /etc and negative things diminished in their mind.

    To answer your question in a more personal way: this was an interesting read for me, because in my family it’s in some way reversed. My mother is religious and has a tattoo, and my HIGHLY conservative and religious female family members have nose and belly button peircings. I, the liberal atheist woman of the family, have no interest in peircings or tattoos. What’s more: my mother’s tattoo is actually in honor of me (it’s of my favorite animal).

    For me, I don’t want a tattoo because I like the idea that when I die, I’ll be put in the ground in some sort of “natural” state, with my “natural” skin and all. At the same time, I recognize that nothing is ever truly “natural” or “unnatural,” and we all make choices that affect how our bodies look throughout our lives.

    I also have a friend who is an observant Jewish woman who has many tattoos. Traditionally, tattoos are forbidden in Jewish culture. In her case, however, her tattoos are in honor of her Holocaust-surviving grandmother and her favorite animals and pets who have passed away. Her tattoos are an act not just of self-expression, but of love for these people and animals. I also have a friend who was raised by a very strong single woman in the face of a lot of adversity, and so she has a tattoo of elephants (with the adult elephant signifying her mother and the baby elephants being herself and her siblings. Elephants are matriarchal.) What I’m saying with all this is, tattoos can be a way not only for people to express their invidivuality, but to connect with something important in a physical and committed, permanent way. Of course, sometimes tattoos are just silly and playful with no deeper meaning, and that’s okay too. 😀

  54. Teresa butler says:

    I have been struggling with this as well. My daughter has always been very conservative with her body, as I always was and taught to be. She has a good job, put herself through 4 years of college, and has a beautiful daughter. She got herself out of a bad relationship and has done very well. She started about a year ago putting tattoos o her arms and legs. I hate it and we fight about it! She just turned 25, so I know it’s her right to do what she wants, but I need to understand why and she doesn’t want to talk about it. She just tell me she likes them. I feel like there has to be another reason.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I came across this in an email search. Much like others here, my beautiful 19 year old daughter has been getting tattoos since she was 16. The first ones were home based and look horrid. Once she turned 18 she started getting them done professionally. I have said my peace to her about how I feel and have kept the lines of communication open about how strongly I feel about them. She has them up and down her arms and today, she took it a step further and got two tattoos on her face. I feel so overwhelmingly devastated. I cannot look at her.

      I am angry and sad, and grieving for the limitations I feel she is placing on herself. I love her, but I can’t get my head around what she’s done to her body, and now face.

  55. It’s Tuesday evening and my 20 yr old son just came home from where he has been in school with a horrible full sleeve tattoo on his R forearm. Now he has gone out with high school friends and I’m here in my room crying, nauseated- and googling for how to pray about your sons tattoo”- and your page came up- thank you- the responses do help give me perspective on love but still so SAD, and praying hard!!

  56. Cheri,
    My 20 year old daughters arms are covered in tattoos. I’m not even against a couple of meaningful tattoos, if you choose to do it… but she had about 12 of them… mostly on her arms. This time I almost cried. I try to explain why it’s not wise, but I sound very shallow and judgemental when I tell her that people will judge her before they know her… it’s just the way life is .
    I wish I had the right words to explain to her what I mean.

  57. Anita Kay Keefer says:

    My daughter, Kathy Petersen Johnson, has forwarded this link to me. I am struggling with my only granddaugter’s 5th tattoo. She is almost 35; a college graduate .. a married gal with two daughters age 3 and 7. I think her tattoos are ugly and having worked in health care until last year, I fear for her health. I am 77.

  58. Jane King says:

    Thank you for being here.. I just discovered my middle daughters tatoo yesterday.. I hd told all three I never wanted them to get tatoos…and she told me they all got the same one.. I am through the roof.. ugh I could write you all the details but bottom line I know O love my daughters and have to accept that I will not be MAd forever and that I will have to move on so . finding you will help me process.. thank you for you blog. Janie King

  59. I figure this if kids are over 18 and they think they are adult enough to consider a tattoo, Then they are adult enough to make an informed decision like an adult would right? That means researching and becoming informed that tattoos come with a risk. It is slight risk, but it is one that should be aware of before getting a tattoo. Some inks have heavy metals in them . Then research on heavy metals and understand what that means. The other issue is the tattoo ink migrates to the lymph nodes and if in the future the doctor ever suspects cancer of the lymph nodes . Instead of simple biopsy of the lymph nodes they will remove the lymph nodes and it will be sent to pathology. If it is negative then you will be without lymph nodes . Research and understand what function the lymph nodes serve in the body . If this risk is one that is fully understands and accepted then be absolutely sure that this is something that is acceptable. If the desire to be ornamental outweighs the possible risks. then a decision has been reached. When the doctor gives us antibiotics we accept that long list of possible risks. because usually statistically the chances of listed reactions are low.

    Of course we will love our children no matter what , and always want what is best for them . We try to save them from making bad decisions, that will hurt them in the future, but for some reason they just have moments where they know everything and do impulsive things sometimes. That they might later regret . I think for kids it is part of growing up is learning how to make decision and learning from your mistakes and learning how to make a better decision next time, and moving in a forward positive trajectory.
    I think there is better ways to be ornamental than a tattoos, but that is me. I think Henna wash off tattoos is better it is not permanent fixture.

  60. Faith macleod says:

    My daughter is 22 and i just found out she got two small tattoos. She herself recently hated them, cried when her boyfriend got one. I have 2 children, i had asked them to please wait until i was gone before getting any. My one request. Neither had any intetest so it really wasnt an issue. Until now. Im beyond shocked, stunned actually, its so out of character. Im hurt, incredibly sad, angry, i feel betrayed, i feel like she isnt the same person, i dont kbow how i will look at her. I cant shake it….

  61. Rebecca PM says:

    My daughter says she wants to become a tattoo artist and has gotten large tattoos all over her arms some on her fingers, pierced her nose x 2, eyebrow, and who knows what else she has done while away at school. I do not have a single tattoo on my body. She is ruining her beautiful skin and doesn’t realize that when she gets old it will look like a bunch of ink blobs. and as her mom I will say,”Remember when Mom said this was not a good idea?” I pray for my little Cristine that she will find her way in this dark world.

  62. icantbelievethis says:

    I’m very interested in your journey on this subject. My 35 year old daughter just informed me that she wants to get a half sleeve tattoo and I all but flipped out.
    God knows I love her, but I don’t get it. She’s beautiful and needs no adornment besides what God have her. And her grandmother… oh my! She’s 87 and will likely go into cardiac arrest. Honestly, I truly am worried that this will result in a physically detrimental issue with my Mom.

  63. Chris Marino says:

    My son got a tattoo on his arm first. Then one on his hand; a big, black circle with a girl sitting in moonlight. Frankly, it is awful. This year, he got ‘LA” behind his ear because he lived in LA (he has since moved back to Florida). Just recently while going through a very traumatic time in his life, he go the words “FAST LIFE” across his fingers. It is an understatement to say that I am sick to my stomach every day. Getting these tattoos removed is the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about as I try to go to sleep at night. Who will hire this 25 year old? How will he have a life here? It may have been acceptable in LA working in the television field but it is not as acceptable here. He said once, “I like it because people look at me.” Well most people are looking in a negative way… does he realize this? I think the part that hurts most for me is that he and I did not speak for months after the hand tattoo but he went and got more visible tattoos. I see it as a huge slap in the face. He is now living back with me because he had a break-up and had to move out of his apartment. He is in therapy 3 times a week and makes a foolish, life altering decision like tattooing his fingers. My question is… what is wrong with this generation of young adults who don’t think about the long road ahead of them. He says… don’t worry… soon I’ll be ashes. What kind of attitude is that. It’s very sad to me, such disregard for life.

  64. Pearl Paul says:

    How can you really not love her because of her tattoos – Do you not love her for her person? Or do you love her for her skin and her looks – what if her skin was deformed or scarred – would you love her less? Do you love your children only because they do what you want them to, be how you want them to be – because if that is the case, then I would say that you may need to re-learn or re-explore the essence of what love truly is. Even if she has changed (and please note this – I am not a Christian or religious) isn’t it in your doctrine and your faith to love each other – especially one who is of your bloodline – have you re-read Corinthians about what love is and any other scripture about loving each other.

    Are you stuck in judgement of what is good and bad and that it has nothing to do with love but of perception and stigma – and that you buy into that?

    Do you wear make-up? Make up can be viewed in the same way – colouring one’s skin for embellishment or to look and feel pretty – tattoos are basically skin colour and pattern and pictures – just permanent – basically the same thing – adding colour to skin for viewing pleasure.

    You mentioned your child – your daughter was a gift to you – thoughts on that: what is a gift? is it something to keep? a possession? something precious to own? I believe if we have a child we are given a charge to do our best to love, raise, support and guide a baby into adulthood – the gift we get is the relationship we have with our children – they themselves are not ours to own… and most of the challenges we have in relationship comes from the ‘feeling’ or sense of ownership “my’ child, ‘my’ husband

    Hope these questions and thoughts help you in your journey …. I just noticed your tag line less drama – more delight – tattoos are really very superficial – drama versus delight in your daughter as a person. a beautiful woman that you helped enter the world to bring more light.

    all the best in your journey of figuring this out – with love

    1. Chris Marino says:

      It’s not that you don’t “love” your child anymore, it’s that you worry about their future and how other people look at them. For me, I work in education and it is sometime embarrassing if I run into someone from work and he is with me. I know that sound selfish but your children are a reflection of you.

      1. On my soapbox says:

        Your children aren’t a reflection of you. They are human beings who make separate decisions from you. You hope you raise them well enough to make their own decisions well, but in the end they are their own person and it sounds like all the mothers here wondering why it’s so hard to love their tattooed child need to realize that.

        You don’t get to control them, that’s not how mothering works when your children get older. You guide them, and you love them. You can disagree with their decisions, but if you really find it hard to love them because they aren’t living how you want you should really pray long and hard about what unconditional love is. God forbid they have a real life crisis where they make a serious life mistake like drug addiction, or get a divorce and don’t have you to love and guide them.

        First world problems when you have to worry about your child’s tattoos.

  65. Peter Stevens says:

    This is what I believe, (I do not expect anyone else to wholely accept my beliefs.)

    What an individual adult adopts as his/her standards of behavior, so long as that behavior does not infringe on the legal rights of another and does not cause injury to another person, is personal. I may agree or disagree with a behavior becasue of moral, ethical, or aesthic reasons, but all of these are personal and subjective.

    I have been raised to believe that a person, what some may call a soul, is distinct from individual things that a person does. Actions have causes and circumstances which are not always apparent, and if we needed to know everything about everyone to love them as persons, then no one would be loved.

    I believe that the only true form of love is love of other people. Any other “love” is a form of possessiveness, and inherently selfish, regardless of ones overt actions.

    I believe that love of children should be without reservation, but of the children, not the children’s behavior. A child should be protected from obviously self-destructive behavior. When a child does something that conflicts with the values of a parent or society, the parent bears the primary responsibility for the consequences, and for guiding the child to mitigate the possibility of future behaviors of that type.

    BUT, I differentiate children from adults. Adults, or persons who wish to be regarded as adults, are entirely responsible for their own behavior.

    Adults are guardians and custodians of their minor offspring, not their owners. As a parent, I may have contributed DNA, time and expense to helping a child to become an adult (not rasie a child). There is no inherent obligation of that adult to accept my morals, ethics or behaviors.

    Instead, differences between an adult and its parent should be taken by parents as a reason and oportuinity to question those differences IN THEMSELF. The offspring may have a legitimate and rational reason for the different behavior, or the behavior may be inconsequential.

    But even if the behavior is illegitimate, irrational and consequential, I stll need to separate loving the person, from the behavior that I do not understand or accept, and possibly may not tolerate.

    Regarding tatoos, I believe that they are irrational, but if done by trained personnel in a hygenic manner, inconsequential other than possibly conflicting with some other person’s sense of aesthetics. So I have no objections to other people decorating themselves with images that are not intended to be offensive or hateful.

    Even if my offsping gets them, I’ll continue to love her.

  66. Becky Graves says:

    I have 2 tattoos I regret and have told my daughter while I’m not against them you really need to think it through. At 17 her cousin did a Home tattoo and we were upset. A few days after she turned 18 she wanted one and I talked her out of it telling her to look at pictures or draw them on herself. I thought she would have forgotten about it. Today, 10 days after she turned 18 she got a tattoo, I am dissapointed beyond belief, I don’t know where to put my anger, she’s an adult and there’s nothing I can say. I’m lost.

    1. Hi Becky Graves: Saw your post and I don’t really understand. You said you are a tattooed woman and you’re not against tattoos. Your daughter has become a woman and she too is now a tattooed woman. I don’t really understand why you seem surprised…

  67. Just learned my 19 year old granddaughter has recently gotten 3 tattoos … my heart sank when I found out … my smart, clean cut level headed girl is now living a more edgy lifestyle … everything she has always hated … she is now doing … my heart aches …

    You ask why we respond the way we do … for me I think tattoos make a person look trashy … it’s an overall attitude … edgy … are they doing drugs, too? It’s permanent …

    I am praying God will make her miserable in the lifestyle she is living … do what he needs to do to draw her back … wondering how someone I thought I knew could go against everything she has hated in others … feel like I’ve lost her …

    1. Just wanted to jump in and say:

      Just because someone has tattoos, it doesn’t automatically correlate them with drug use. Anyone can use drugs, tattood or not. And though I don’t know you or your daughter personally, I’m sure that just because she got 3, it doesn’t mean you’ve ‘lost’ her.

      Tattoos aren’t the SOLE part of ones identity. They’re merely symbols of ones expression. Some may get them for the look of it, or some may have a deeper meaning in them. It depends on the person.

      Agree to disagree I guess.

      1. I guess I should explain this part more because I feel it didn’t make sense at first. What I mean by tattoos not being the sole thing of ones identity is that there’s more to a person than their tattoos.

        Though I don’t gave any yet, each tattoo idea I’ve come up with each personally have a deeper meaning to them and symbolize very important things to me.

        1. Chris Marino says:

          Well I don’t know how old you are but if you are under 30 you should wait. My niece got several tattoos when she was in her early 20’s and is she is so regretful. It will cost a lot of money to have them removed so you are better to wait until you are mature. Just my two cents.

          1. Nikki Everitt says:

            I agree completely. I wanted a tattoo or tattoos when I was in my teens and early 20s back in the 1970s. I didn’t get any because it wasn’t really the done thing for girls to get tattoos back then….certainly here in England.
            When I was in my late 40s I still wanted a tattoo. I tried out temporary tattoos and felt comfortable with them. My partner was happy with them, in fact he loved them. 11 years ago for my 50th birthday present to myself I got a lower back tattoo…yes, a tramp stamp! I love it, my partner loves it but I am so, so glad I waited until I was mature and comfortable in, and with, my body.
            I have since got a couple more. All are usually hidden by my normal clothes but I like them and am not at all ashamed that I am now “inked”.
            I do worry when I see beautiful young girls who are heavily tattooed. How will they feel when they are older? I’m sure you should not hate a child for getting tattooed (or pierced or for smoking) but I can fully understand bitter disappointment.

    2. People have different ways of expressing themselves. Some people may find tattoos beautiful pieces of art, some such as yourself may find them “trashy”. It’s a personal opinion. There’s not one single thing that everybody agrees on. Tattoos are a prime example of this and often lead to debate. I for one feel that it is the decision of the person getting tattoos, nobody else unless of course the person in question is a minor or is giving off bad messages. Then you have the right to try prevent such. I hope this helps ease your mind. Tattoos are becoming more accepted and is an art form. Different people, different ways of expressing themselves.

      1. ” beautiful pieces of art” is how i see them. My issue is, I like to change the pictures (art) in the living room every once in a while and a tattoo is permanent. 10 or 20 years from now you may fancy something different. Yes, sometimes you want to always have a reminder of that part of your life, a permanent piece of art on your body may be right for you, but not for me, I guess. My 19yo daughter is thinking about getting her first, and I’m afraid it’s mostly based on current emotional situations that will be different in the years to come. I don’t like a person any less because of
        tat but want her to be aware that she will have other feelings in the future. I recommend a large canvas print.

    3. I’d quickly like to mention, tattoos don’t directly correlate to being edgy. I’m a college student doing extremely well in science and hoping to go to medical school. The tattoos won’t hurt her prospects either; most nurses or medical students tend to have tattoos. Its about the person, and I’m sure the granddaughter you love is still herself

  68. Ash Hanson says:

    …As a catholic I know the words of the Bible and God. He teaches love and acceptance and a tattoo is NOT actually a sin. Tattoos are a form of expression, art , and have very deep meaning for a lot of people. They tell a story the way nothing else does. I got my first tattoo when I was 14. I know that sounds very crazy and it was, I was quite a rebellious child. Anyways I have many now at 24 and I love all of them. And quite frankly I would choose never to speak to my parents if they were [as dogmatic and hateful]. I’m not saying you need to like your children’s tattoos but to never speak to them again because of a tattoo is the type of thinking that is destroying this world. Your love for your children should not have guideline and rules. It should be unconditional.

    1. Oh wow, thanks for this Ash! I can’t imagine my parents just all of a sudden ostracizong me because of getting a tattoo. I’d be so heartbroken and I would feel so alone, especially at the stage I am now in my life.

      My dad just thinks they look ugly (which is totally fine, that’s his opinion) and my mom is…well, she’s very conservative and finds them horrific, it seems. But they’d love me nonetheless and considering my age, I am technically old enough to make that decision for myself. (I’m 19. May not be getting any soon though since I don’t have much funds to begin with, haha. )

      For me, the tattoos I do end up getting in the future will be very personal in that they symbolize things that are very important to me. For example, one of them will be a multitude of flowers each in various stages of blooming. The flowers blooming resemble my overcoming of the really horrible body image issues I used to deal with. It weighed heavily on me for years since I can remember and now I have finally ‘bloomed’. Though of course I still have bad days, I can finally love myself again and I learn and accept myself instead of pushing it away. Its the best feeling ever.

      For me, getting tattoos like that is a way of overcoming my struggle that I’ve had of trying to live to please others. I know all too well that when you do that and never do things for yourself, you’ll never truly be happy. So getting such tattoos will be one of the many things I do to finally just be ‘me’. Its so liberating.

      1. thanks for your perspective. my 26 year old daughter just got a huge tattoo on her upper arm of flowers and I am struggling. I hope she has put as much thought into it as you described. I am wrestling eith my feelings and will see her for the first time this weekend. Praying I don’t say something that sounds judgemental. Love her with all my heart.

  69. Hello! I couldn’t find a date anywhere so I don’t know how old this article is. I found your blog because I googled, “My beautiful daughter got a tattoo”. I’m struggling too. My 18 year daughter is beautiful, with porcelain skin and fine bone structure. She got a tattoo to represent the passing of a best friend from cancer. Everyone in that friend group is planning on getting one. I was fine with the original, small, dainty sample she showed me but she came home with a very large one instead. My heart just broke to see her permanently marked with something so large. All I could think of was how people would see the tattoo before they saw her and that it would limit her choices in life. But it’s not like clothing or a hair cut; what’s done is done. All I could say was the flower was beautiful, and it was, if it was framed on a wall. Her friend was an amazing soul, a gift of light and love. So now I pray that every time my daughter sees the tattoo, it brings her peace and comfort while she’s grieving and that it will help her to want to live in such a way as to honor her friend as right now she is making choices in all sorts of areas that are much more harmful than a tattoo. I personally think they should raise the age of consent for tattoos to 21, as 18 is too young to make such a permanent life choice.

    Blessings to you from one mom to another who is also working to make peace with the fact that I have no control over the path my daughter chooses to walk and learning how to let go without giving up on the fact that God is faithful and he hears our prayers.

    1. Reading through this brings validation, consolation and sense of solidarity with mothers everywhere who just love their daughters and want the best for them and want to protect them from the difficulties of the world, even if it means protecting them from themselves sometimes. My daughter just turned 18 and just showed me her fresh tatoo. It has some significance of acknowledging a very difficult phase of surviving cancer, multiple surgeries, isolation and ostracization from her supposed friends including her best friend who recently completely broke off ties over a ridiculous disagreement. While I read through all this and resonate with the various view points, I think back to times where young people went out and DID SOMETHING in the world, rather than hyperfocus on themselves or their need for more attention in the world of selfie narcissism. I also think, like several of the moms here, of the agreement made and broken, that she would NOT do this without mutual discussion of design, location, facility/technique etc. You see, this thing about the heavy metals, and hepatitis and HIV and other concerns around shared needles is REAL and I do NOT see it discussed thus far in my reading of this forum. Frankly, as an employer and parent, I do know people do see them as trashy and while I can appreciate the artful intent of some of them, it is the choice of displaying such things that has a negative public perception/association which can negatively impact business. You can say all you want about what you think, or how unfair and judgemental people are to think that, but the bottom line is if it might negatively impact the bottom line, it is devalued, regardless of the great resume, credentials, etc someone might have. They may not get a chance to get in the door to demonstrate their talents. This is similar to the type of discrimination people of ‘natural color” already go through. Thus, it is doubly negative and an even stronger self consideration to be made for a child of color to get a tattoo when she already is going to be judged more harshly just for not being white. So privliged white girls with blue eyes and blond pony tails and “porcelain skin” can be seen as rebellious, artsy, or that coveted “unique” they apparently desperately thinking. But their networks are generally stronger and more permissive of such things for them. But a person of color, who by implicit bias of most of society which permits them to be beaten or shot while driving or sitting or just breathing while being black, are at much greater risk of being associated with negative aspects such as being in a gang, drugs, prostitution etc. Thus the pain for parents of color who manage to raise their kids to adulthood is even greater because we know what they cannot yet fully fathom, how unfair the world is, especially for them, and how much harder they just made it for themselves by an often impulsive, not well thought out/peer influenced decision, the impact of which will stay with them the rest of their lives.. And they violated a pact of trust. So of course, having nearly lost and still might lose my daughter to cancer, I understand her need to experience as much of life as she can while she can. I hate the thought that maybe this is a sign of surrender on her part while at the same time it is her way of making a statement somehow, of trying to take a stand in a world that wants to invisibilize her and her many talents. It is all so sad. She has physical and emotional scars far worse than the silly tat, but she earned those as badges of courage and survival, that to me already carried far more meaning than toxic ink of some amateurish design for a transient fancy. But it is what it is, as long as she continues to figure out how to take care of her business so be it, just don’t come running back to me to help when there’s a problem, then be the independent adult you claim you are being. Deal with it.
      People need to really think and be conscious of what they do, how it affects those who care about them and that they supposedly care about. Sometimes maturity is not about doing things, its about timing and choosing what you do with consideration of the importance and impact those choices have on others you are connected to. You have to weigh things out. Her 85 year old grandmother is fighting her own cancer fight. I can relate to the other mom’s concern, it might give the granma a heart attack, is it really worth it that much to have your individual expression RIGHT NOW?? Or wait and do something in memory of granma when she passes, something of significance? Maybe it is better to get support and counselling for your perception of your “toxic family” issues or whatever else is causing you emotional pain that you feel you need to make your body a public billboard advertisement for the rest of your life. It’s far healthier to deal with things and move on and reach for the good that yet awaits you ahead.
      Of course we are to love one another above all else. None of us is perfect, nor should we judge the actions of others. We are also supposed to Honor thy mother and thy father. Especially when they busted their asses to raise, house, feed, clothe and often educate you. We are all connected. I love my daughter, even with this thing, but it is a hard next thing to endure, grateful we can talk about it, and find way towards mutual respect and growth and keep on living strong together. Her still being here and doing well is the most important thing that matters, she is the light of my life. Hopefully we can find and keep a new level of trust so we can keep moving forward together.

  70. I too am writing this through tears. I found out about my daughters tattoo on social media. In a way I am kinda glad because it is giving me time to grieve before I have to face her, as she is away at university. Her tattoo is really upsetting to me on so many levels. So many people are trying to help her get through university financially, her grandfather, father, stepfather and myself all have given her money. She seems to have no appreciation of other peoples sacrifices and seems to have twisted priorities. It seems like nothing I have ever talked to her about has one scrap of value. I am seriously thinking about cutting ties with her if I am no use or value to her. She has payed a very VERY heavy price for the tattoo, upsetting me, limiting jobs. Hope it was worth it to her! Yes, her body, her life!

    1. Popeye's Mom says:

      I read your post and feel your pain. My daughter is also away at college and like your family my husband and I are killing ourselves to pay for her tuition. She just got a tattoo on her forearm (like Popeye the Sailor was the first thing I thought of when she told me where it was) that has meaning to her but it couldn’t be in a worse place. What maddens me the most is she is living on our dime, not working during school and yet can spend money on something like this.
      I am not opposed to tattoo’s but I did tell my girls that if they ever decided to get one it better not be visible in a wedding dress…..well guess what this one is. I told my daughter that what hurt me the most here was that she didn’t have to get this now. If and when she was earning her own money and decided to get one then that would be her decision. She is 21 so she is of age.
      I did call my daughter back ( I had hung up on her I was so distraught) and I told her that I love her beyond measure. I also told her I wished she had taken the time to talk with either her sister or myself before she made this decision.
      I hope you do not shut out your daughter, you can be angry and disappointed but just remember she is YOUR MOST PRECIOUS GIFT. I had to remind myself of that too, hence the redialing of the phone.
      Best regards
      Popeyes Mom

    2. Broken Hearted says:

      I am a single mom. Seconds ago I found out my beautiful daughter, who I support 200% financially while she goes to college, wasted my money on a tattoo. It is horrible looking and breaks my heart. She knew it would. The ever changing peacock hair I have dealt with because it isn’t permanent. Brains are not fully developed until age 21. She will regret this one day when she is the mother and her beautiful daughter makes a life altering mistake.

  71. Hi Cheri: My daughter is 47 and decided two years ago to get her first–a humongous shoulder down the arm–tattoo. She calls it art too. To me as the saying goes, “art is perceived in the eye of the beholder.” Her current husband also has many ” art” tattoos of what he says are the most meaningful events of his life. Both of them have good jobs right now but things have a way of changing.

    I hate all tattoos even the little tiny ones but especially the ones on my daughter’s body but I refrained from saying what I think of them although she knows i dont like them. I am so saddened to see this beautiful woman whom I love unconditionally deliberately do this to herself. Yesterday I saw a recent photo and saw that she has gotten another one, this time on her foot and leg. I do not understand why anyone would do this to themselves. I think it’s ugly and I can’t understand why.

    A long time ago I asked God to watch over her and her children and the various challenges she has had along with my other children, friends, and myself. You know, everyday things, we as parents can do nothing about. So now I pray for acceptance and the gift of letting go! Good luck, best wishes and sending prayers, Cheri on your life’s journey that you may learn the value of letting go of all things you cannot control–the tattoo is just one of them!
    By the way God is still not finished with me either! I’m still learning…at 72+!

    1. I feel all your pain! Trying to understand why my beautiful daughter needs to do this to herself….is it for attention? She considers herself and artist and her body is the canvas. I struggle with the thought that I did something wrong as a parent.. why she does not share my same values. Letting go is hard and I want to say something to her but know it will not end well as tatoos are permanent and so it this pain in my heart.

      1. “Tattoos are permanent and so it this pain in my heart.” This is exactly how I feel after I received a letter from my daughter yesterday notifying me that she made an appointment to get her 5th tattoo! She already made a deposit. In her letter she said – she loves me very much, she was afraid to tell me face-to-face, but she is doing to do it anyway because she loves the drawing and wants it to be inked on her arm – “sleeve tattoo”.. She said it will make her happy and if I want her to be happy, I should let it go. Well, I CAN NOT let it go, I am so heartbroken over it. When I found out she got her 4th tattoos (she was hiding it from me for 5 months), I was soo upset, we had a huge argument and I was not talking to her for whole week…. and now – even worse, much bigger tattoo… After I read her letter, I cried for hours – thinking it is all my fault, I missed something raising her… She is beautiful smart intelligent 34 years old woman. She is single. I think she is confused what happiness is all about. It can not be in Tattoos… I am so upset at her. I KNOW I won’t be able to look at her the same way because I HATE seeing it on her body… I am so devastated, I do not know what to do………….

        1. I feel the same way about my grandaughter who isn’t 18 yet and has been getting tattoos without asking her parents! She is hanging out with a loser who I think is paying for them! She is beautiful and has gorgeous skin! My husband and I are sick about it and makes us embarrassed for our friends and family to see her! I know my daughter is upset too but just try’s to laugh it off! How can I learn to accept this! I’m devasted about it!!

        2. Mary Hagstrom says:

          This blog is so timely. My daughter got a small tattoo a few years ago on the back of her neck which upset me terribly but since I didn’t have to see it I forgot about it. Last year she got an arm tattoo with a flower and she only told my husband because she said I said such hurtful things to her on her first tattoo. Its been very difficult to look at and very embarrassing for my friends & family to find out because I felt it was it reflected bad parenting. I have cried many tears over it wondering so many of the same things that have been shared and of course wondering how I missed this. The guilt and heartache can be overwhelming. Just tonight (now 25 years old) she text me to let me know when I see her at her soccer game that she has extended her tattoo down her arm to her wrist and she didn’t want it to be a shock to me. I cried and cried before her game tonight and even considered not attended or showing up but leaving before seeing her at the end because of the pain I was feeling. However I knew that wasn’t an option because it was a reality I had to face and as a parent I cannot let this drive a wedge between us, as it was just not an option for me and our future. She is a dear, sweet girl but has always liked tattoos and warned me that she would be getting them but I preferred to stay in my bubble. I had an hour before the game and I googled the exact title of this blog and found so much comfort in these comments. After reading through the comments of both parents and daughters I came to the same conclusion that the only choice for me is to love her just as Jesus loves me each day. There was a time in my life that I was overweight or was unkind and my family still loved me because they could see past it and see me for me. I know I must extend the same grace as Jesus cares about what is going on in our hearts. I have 6 siblings in my family and all have chosen different paths but we have the same parents. A few became dependent upon alcohol, some have been divorced, some even have tattoos. I am also reminded that God was the perfect parent to Adam & Eve and they still sinned (although tattoos are not a sin). Only by the grace of God will I ever actually like tattoos but I am confident that if I choose love then God will soften my heart towards what I currently think is so horrible. I know this is a journey for my daughter and for all of us in her life and I am committing to praying each day for God to soften my heart and increase my love for her. I don’t want to focus on a tattoo and miss all the amazing stuff going on in her life. I don’t know how God will do this but I am trusting that in a few months, or a year that I will be ok if I allow God to do a heart transplant on me. I hope in a year from now I say “wow, I can’t believe it doesn’t bother me anymore. My experience with God gives me this confidence and I am grateful for a forum like this to share life together.

      2. Hi Deb!

        Have you ever asked her why she got them?

        It can depend when it comes to the reasoning one gets them, but for me personally it isn’t for attention. Its my own way of ‘breaking free’ of what I’ve struggled with for so long. I used to suffer from horrible body image issues and used to live my life pleasing other people and pushing myself away. I’ve struggled for years and years and now finally I see myself for who I really am and love me for once. And now I want a tattoo representing that story so I can look at it and smile since it shows me what I’ve overcome.

        You didn’t do anything wrong as a parent and to be honest, you can’t expect your child to have the exact same views or values as you. My mom is Christian and my dad is Atheist. Both love each other immensely and love my sister and I unconditionally. I don’t know where my sister where fall religiously as she’s still too young to think for herself on that. Personally I’m not against the idea of there being something out there that’s more than we can imagine, if there indeed is. I guess I’m agnostic? But I do respect my parents dearly and don’t put anyone else down because of their beliefs or lack thereof.

        Anyways, I’m getting off topic. You’re not a failure of a parent. I don’t even know you and I highly doubt that’s true. Just try and get the other persons side of the story. (E.g. the person with tattoos) Try to ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ as I’ve heard people say. Because you really never know who a person is or what they’re going through just by looking at them. A person is more than their tattoos. We’re deeper than skindeep.

  72. Well I’m 23 and now have 2 tattoos. I haven’t told my parents yet, I know the reaction will not be positive regardless of how much research and care and time I waited before getting inked (5+ years) and the fact that none of the placements prevent gainful employment (I do already have a job in the legal field so I was careful about that).
    If I ever had kids I do think I’d be upset if they got say their forearm tattooed at 18 because it could be a problem for employment in certain fields (especially if they’re women) but in the end, I would still respect that it is their body and their decision. I’d take a full back piece any day before a behind the ear tattoo, no matter how small. But again, it would be their choice, they just wouldn’t have my financial backing once they left college if they struggled to find a job.

    But then again, they have also sworn at me for being bisexual, having safe casual sex and claimed my self-harm was just “another way to hurt them”, so clearly my expectations at this point are very low.

    Although I understand the whole “it seems like self-mutilation” point raised by a few commenters here (or at least I can see where it’s coming from), it does seem a bit ludicrous to me to compare self-mutilation to well thought-out and well executed tattoo projects. My tattoos are a permanent reminder of how far I’ve come in life and how my past issues do not define my future, whereas my self-harm was an unhealthy coping mechanism I developed from growing up in a toxic family. Two very different things.
    And as someone who struggled with self-harm and unhealthy coping mechanisms, it is a bit insulting that people would compare that to tattoos. Self-harming comes from an inability to cope with life’s challenges healthily and carries a deep sense of shame and guilt for the people who struggle with this particular addiction (because yes it is an illness and an addiction). Tattoos don’t carry that sense of shame and guilt or the connotation of addiction in any way (if they have been well thought-out and researched at least).

    And I’m sorry to have to break this to the people who said that you know there are worst things than your kid getting a tattoo but it doesn’t make you feel any better… yes there are much worse things than your child getting ink under their skin (even if they’ve done so for the wrong reasons – which again usually includes a minority of people, so I wouldn’t assume anything). If I were a parent, I’d definitely be more concerned if my child was in physical, psychological or emotional distress (things I could get them help for or support them through) rather than any body modifications they may have.

    I’m not saying you have to like or support your child’s tattoos or whatever else they do that you might not agree with, but there is a difference between saying “I don’t support what you do and you will never get my approval for that” (which is an opinion I can respect) and straight up emotional bullying (ie “why did you get that when you knew it would hurt me”). Yes they’re your child and you care for them and you worry about them, but they are not your property or an extension of yourself – if they are the latter, then I am sorry to say but it’s toxic parenting.

    1. I hope God can bless and heal your relationship with your parents
      Best wishes

    2. Anna… wow. Thank you so much for this response. I also have struggled from self-harm and I relate so much to what you said on that bit. Tattoos and self arm are far from the same and I also find that pretty insulting when people claim them as the same thing.

      The ones I plan to get aren’t that out in the open, I guess you could say. They can easily be covered with clothes and hair. What I mean by the hair one is that I’m thinking of getting one on the nape of my neck. A sunflower dedicated to my mom because that’s her favorite flower. 🙂 I can easily cover it just by wearing my hair down if my future workplace has an issue with that sort of thing.

      I’m so sorry about your having to go through such a toxic upbringing. No one deserves that and I’m glad you’ve been able to get through it.

  73. Levi Jules says:

    For me, as a multiply pierced, multiply tattooed adult of 40 years, it WAS a bit of rebellion against the squeaky clean, nerdy mouse reputation I’d been living with all my life. My inner world is much wilder than one might imagine, and having these many (although sometimes I sigh over having to clean my ears every day (oh man 20 in one ear, 10 in the other, and one in the nostril and one in the tongue) and wish I’d never cottoned on the THIS bright idea. But, for some reason, every time I thought I was over it and removed them, I’ve put them all back in.) bits of metal in my ears and ink on my skin has allowed me to express that inner wildness in a safe way, without risking my life or limbs. It was about me claiming that portion of myself that could not be molded or shaped by others, a signpost that said, “Back off, I get to decide what to do with my body, and you cannot force me to become like your idol Perfect Christian girl!”

    The other thing I discovered about these piercings is that they keep me much, MUCH calmer than I would otherwise be. They’re a thing to care for, they force me to be much more attentive to myself and my body — after all, there is a danger of infection if you do not attend to them through the healing stage (for cartilage (the upper half of your ears and the nostrils and point of your nose), that’s up to one year of attentive care, as they are very finicky and the least thing can set the healing process back.), and you could lose part of your ear in the most unfortunate way. However, the fact that I HAVE TO get up and check and clean my ears to ensure they heal properly has turned down the volume of anxiety and depression (thankfully, I am still quite functional, if a little high strung) that I’ve lived with my whole life. I will never be entirely rid of either the depression or the anxiety, but these things have allowed me to become more controlled, and more likely to actually work through my fears of — oh, just about everything.

    It’s an interesting journey of self-discovery, for me. I’ve learned to be okay with being an anxious, nervous, shy woman who can be pretty wild under the right circumstances, and I’ve also learned to trust myself to get myself out of situations, and to trust my own judgments about what’s good for me above everyone else and their ‘shoulds’. I’m much more content with myself, because this is MY choice, no one else’s, and worrying about what others will think is futile. Because you know what? What everyone else thinks doesn’t really matter: it’s guaranteed someone will negatively judge everything I do, so I might as well enjoy choosing for myself.

    That, I think, is the biggest takeaway: You’re going to get negatively judged no matter what, so isn’t it much better to choose for your own sake to do something you enjoy?

    1. So did you get them nearly all at once?

  74. Nicole, above, says:
    “I have 4 and each have strong meaning to me .. I am a Pastor’s assistant at a large church and otherwise look pretty conservative in dress. .. All the military men in my family had tattoos and it was something I associated with all the men I loved as just normal.”
    Stephanie Hein, above, says:
    “I myself have 1 in honor of all of my beloved soldiers in my life. I had mine done in a special trip along with my mother in law.”

    Yes, it’s extremely widespread among military personnel to get tattooed. It’s also extremely widespread among military wives and women from military families to have a strongly sustained urge to have it done, often in faith, family or patriotic themes. And frankly many such individuals and families would be described as being rather conservative in their outlook and overall deportment. And for so many 18 year olds with personal convictions and backgrounds along faith based, family and patriotic lines – whether from military families or not – a strongly sustained urge to receive ink in such designs is often an expression of those convictions.

  75. My mum doesn’t hate tattoos, but she doesn’t like them. She’s of the opinion that people just shouldn’t get them, but I’ve wanted tattoos since I was 14, and I want to get a tattooing apprenticeship after I finish Uni (which I haven’t told her yet).
    I waited till I was nineteen before I got my first one, and when I told her about it and said that I loved it, she said “That’s because you’re only 19.”. But she wasn’t surprised I got one. The thing I think you’ve got to understand is yes, people sometimes make mistakes with tattoos or regret them etc, but they mean different things to different people, and its something they have to live with more than you.
    For example, my first tattoo represents books/reading which I was raised on. My whole family love books, we made weekly library trips as kids, my love of stories started when I was old enough to read and i’m not going to grow out of it, and even if I do, it will commemorate what was the largest part of my life for decades. I wanted it for years: It was a part of me before I inked it on, but to my mum i still only like it cause i’m young. She hates my best friends tattoo that covers her inner forearm, but it’s beautiful, and meaningful, and It covers up scars that reminded her of a difficult period of her life. its a symbol of moving on from something that hurt her and growing as a person, but mum still hates it.

    On the other hand, my Dad comes from a culture where tattooing can mean alot, and he has had a tattoo around his arm since he was 20, and he’s never regretted it. So I know that they age, and I’ve seen it first hand, but I’m not getting tattooed for other people, or because I want them to look good for the next 10 years or so; I know they age.

    I’ve read a lot on here, particularly in comments, about ‘you should love yourself without markings’ and that tattoos are a desecration, but the tattoos I have or want, are about loving myself and claiming my skin as something I am proud of and am comfortable in: this is my body, this is who i am, I am writing my soul on my skin, because I am proud of the things that make me, me.
    That said, I’m not a fan of impulsive tattoos. I’ve a rule of 1 year for a completed design I know I want, and I do genuinely think you should consider carefully, and should always get something original.

    You can hate the way something looks, sure, go for it, you have an opinion; it’s yours, but as ever, with any opinions, respect is key.

    1. Hi; even though you mom doesn’t like your ink, the fact that she wasn’t surprised when you had them done maybe shows that she must known in her heart of hearts that you were going to do it, right?

  76. I am so glad that i came upon this blog. My 24-year-old son just got his second tattoo yesterday. I am devastated. I feel totally alone in my feelings. I can’t help feeling that he is making decisions that will reflect on him badly for the rest of his life. He is my beautiful son with so much going for him yet he is permanently branding his body. I tried speaking with him, begging him to think it through. You can not tell a young person that they will feel differently in ten years. They know everything. I know that there are mothers suffering the grief of having lost a child or they are experiencing the pain of drug addicted children and my heart is filled with sorrow for them but I can’t wrap my head around how someone else’s misery is suppose to wipe out my heartbreak over my own child. I know and appreciate how lucky I am to have healthy, drug free children. I still can’t help feeling distraught over my son’s tattoo. I am a mother before all things. I want my children to have every opportunity possible and yes, I want people to think highly of my children. The reality is that people do judge people by appearance. It doesn’t matter that it’s wrong, it’s the way it is. I know people in hiring positions that admit they will not hire people with tattoos. It is not the image they want for their companies. As a mother I want to protect my children. Yes, my son is 24 and he is an adult. As hard as I try I can not share my life experiences or wisdom with him. I literally had a mental melt down after his first tattoo. I cried for three days straight. It was only a few months ago and he got another one. My feelings mean nothing to him. I have been his biggest supporter of every thing he has ever done. I stood by him through sports, music, jobs, 51/2 years of college(three majors) and so much more but I can’t support tattoos. I read other blogs that say horrible things about mother’s who reacted like me. They have all kinds of names, over controlling, narcissist, selfish etc.. I should respect the “art” and his individualism. I’m a “horrible person” for feeling like I do. When I look at him it dawns on me that the mess on his arm is the first thing you see. You can’t stop the monster from pulling your attention to it. It over powers your senses. I know the response of people is to say to themselves “why would he do that to himself?”. It presents him as impulsive, irresponsible, not thinking about his future and apathetic to first impressions. I realize I am the one who has to change. The ink is permanent. I have to accept that under all the graffiti he is still my son who I will love unconditionally. He is the one that will have to live with his decisions and suffer the consequences. I will have to respect his decision and I will pray that it won’t bring him negative experiences. I will NEVER like his tattoos and I will continue to cry and worry in private but I have told him that it is impossible to find a mother who loves her children more than I do.

    1. Your post really hit home with me because my 19 year old son is getting his second tattoo in a few days, and I haven’t even gotten used to the first one yet that he got only a few months ago. My son makes me proud. He is a wonderful person. He is a freshman in college (where he does ROTC) and a member of the Army National Guard (which he joined split-option as a junior in high school). One would think he has his head on straight. But he is impulsive. He hangs around with people who have a lot of tattoos (other Guardsmen, mostly). His first tattoo threw me for a loop. But it’s on the inside of his bicep and not very noticeable although it is pretty large. It’s the Army Infantry cross rifles and the wording says, “we fight together” on top of the rifles, and “we die together” underneath. I was more floored about the wording, I think. Now, he wants to get a snake coiling around his forearm with the words, “Don’t tread on me” in between the coils. He is nothing if not patriotic. However, beyond the fact that he is marking up his beautiful skin, and that he might regret them later on, and they might limit his job opportunities in the future, I hate that I feel he is following along with the people he hangs around and not really thinking for himself. I hate that he can stand up for his beliefs politically, socially, and every other way, even when he stands alone, but others are having such influence over him that he is doing things that cannot be undone. I will always love him and be his biggest supporter, and I am always proud of him, but I am disappointed in the choices he has been making, and I am a mess. To top it all off, his sister turns 18 in January, and as they have always been very close, I can see her starting down this road. But that’s a whole other story….

      1. Well, okay, Candi, you’re entitled to your thoughts and preferences, but you’re not really surprised, are you? that your daughter as well as your son, expects to do it? Anyway, it’s what young people seem to do now at 18; it’s a rite of passage.

  77. My daughter got her 3rd tattoo today. Every one I do not like and pouted, I have told her I do not like them and she cannot understand why I am not supportive.
    I read an article about another mom who was there to hold her daughters hand. I feel bad that I am not supportive. I have been in every other way.
    My daughter has beautiful skin and to me she is ruining it. I do not like the permanence of it.
    It has put a distance between us but I cannot pretend I am for something I am not. I can tolerate them on others but on my daughter I cannot. I know I need to change my thoughts so we can move forward but it is hard.

    1. I totally am feeling your pain. My son just got his second tattoo yesterday. I feel that I am being judged for not being a supportive mother. It breaks your heart to see your child (any age) do this to themselves and know it is permanent. I won’t allow this to affect my relationship with my son but I can’t erase my absolute distain for tattoos. I literally feel physically sick and I am fighting tears every waking second of the day.

  78. I am struggling with the same issue with my son who got his first one as soon as he turned 18 and less than a year later (he is still 18) has a total of 4 tattoos now and he thought that by getting my name on him that I would approve, but I cannot approve, I do not approve, I don’t even want to look at them. I don’t understand why it disappoints me so much! He’s so young and I worry about the job situation just like others have mentioned. I just feel in my heart that he will regret these one day and I can’t do nothing about it but let him live and learn.
    Thanks for this post because I have been struggling to the point of being tears over this and it is comforting knowing I’m not alone.

  79. If the worst choice my daughter makes in life is to put ink on her arm, I will die a happy mom

  80. Cheri,
    This topic about tattoos on your daughter has really helped me today. I’ve been tossing all these contrasting, polar opposite thoughts around in my head the last two days since finding out about my daughter’s new tattoo. It’s making me crazy! My daughter always talked about getting one as a teen and I made it clear that she had to be an adult before that would ever, if ever, happen. Meanwhile I tried to convince her that there were a lot of things to think about and how it would be a forever decision, etc. I told her about all the people who regretted it and had to have them removed later in life. As soon as she was 18 she got a one word tattoo, ” freedom”, on the inside of her wrist. It that represents her favorite scripture. It is in a feminine looking script, all black and relatively small. So, as much as I wasn’t a fan, I thought…I can deal with this. It could have been so much worse. She loves the Lord and wants an every day reminder of what He means to her. Plus it is a great conversation starter and a chance to share her faith! Everything is honky dory at this point right? Well then at 19 she decided she was getting married and we could either support her or not come. Long story, short…we made it through that one and now she is happily married to a wonderful guy, who also loves the Lord, and treats her like a treasure. They are learning a lot of hard lessons about money and being independent but they are doing fine. So next I see a facebook photobooth shot of my beautiful daughter with a HUGE forearm tattoo. She is 20 now. And although she is a very smart, loving, responsible, beautiful young lady, she is still so00 young! How can she know that this will always make her happy? At first I thought it can’t be real, They must have had some kind of henna thing going on at the party right? Wrong….it’s real. And did I mention…real HUGE? and that I hate tattoos? This time the tattoo is of a bunch of leaves and wildflowers where each type represents a different scripture verse that she loves. A friend designed it for her and she saved up for 6 months before getting it. Oh and her younger sister, who is 15 thinks it is great! So now I may have another child copying this pattern in a few years. So why am I letting this bother me? Everything turned out fine before, right?

    Here are some of the negative thoughts going through my head. What if she is on her way to being addicted to this and starts covering every inch of her body? What if she wants colored ones or sleeves? What if she wants to put them all over her neck? I really hate those! I try really hard not to judge people who have those but I can’t help thinking….Why? Why would you do that to your beautiful body? When we used to watch “Say yes to the dress” together before my daughter left for college I would always comment on how much I hated the tattoos all over the shoulders, back and neck. I would say why does she want a strapless gown with all of the tats everywhere? My daughter would sometimes say…I don’t think they are that bad. And of course the attendant at the store would always say “and this one shows off all of your beautiful tattoos”. Ugh, I would think. Yuck….why? Next I would wonder, what if she gets turned down for various jobs because they make certain assumptions about her based on the wildflower forearm tattoo? They may think she is some rebellious flower child who has no respect for rules or proceedures. She could miss out on awesome opportunities. What about her health, isn’t there lead in the ink? What about infections and side effects? So then I had the really bright idea of checking google to read up on all the health concerns with tattoos. Let me just warn you. Don’t do it. The “what if’s” you will read about on-line are really scary. It won’t make you feel better. Then I think about how the tattoo will look if she gains a lot of weight when she is pregnant one day, or when her skin is old and wrinkled. I think of all the judgements people will make about her before they know her. People like…… me! Ouch that hurts. Am I that judgemental? Do I do that to people? I try not to, but do I? Some people don’t even try not to. Then I read on here about the mom who has kids who are embarrassed by her tattoos or the dad whose son didn’t want him to come to the after baseball game ice cream party because he had tattoo sleeves. At first I kind of laughed thinking they would deserve that. Wait a minute, would I really want my child to feel that kind of hurt? Would I want my grandchild to feel that kind of embarrassment? Wasn’t my own child freaking out when I picked her up in the school car rider line one day in our very old, ugly, old fashioned van? Wasn’t I myself completely mortified when my father tried to do “the bump” with my girlfriends at my sweet 16 birthday party? (for those of you that don’t know, “the bump” was a dance that had been popular about 5 years before this party and was “out of style” when my dad did it.) We all survived those silly teen embarrassments so would this be any worse? Surely my daughter would shrug it off if my future grandkids don’t care for the tattoo. And at this rate most of my grandkids friends will have parents with the same thing, right? I guess I have a long way to go in coming to terms with this latest letting go issue. I’m going to go put on my “big girl panties” now and take one step towards getting over it. Still it is nice to know I am not alone out there!


  81. Laura Whitelock says:

    As a 22 year old with three tattoos I’d like to give some advice to parents or general people who feel anger or hatred towards tattoos.
    My mum hates tattoos and always has. She never approved of me getting them but I got my first at 21 so I was well above the age and definitely able to make my own mind up. My latest tattoo she actually told me was “ugly” “too big” “horrible” etc. I’d like you all to take a moment and imagine saying those words to your child in any other situation correlating to their appearance. You wouldn’t do it would you? So why do some parents, like mine, feel that those are OK words to say to their child when it’s about tattoos? The answer is, they aren’t.
    Every time I’ve tried to speak to my mother about why she dislikes my tattoos so much she changes the subject and tells me I won’t understand because I don’t have children. She told me it’s typical for my friends to like my tattoos because they didn’t give birth to me. I’m struggling to understand why all of a sudden she talks to me like I’m a naughty teenager instead of like the responsible bill paying adult that I am.

    All I will say in terms of advice is: just love us. Don’t comment on our tattoos if it is in any way other than love. Don’t tell us that tattoos are a disgrace. Don’t tell us we won’t get jobs. Please don’t quote bible scriptures at us. Just love us.
    The fact is the world is changing, becoming more tolerant. Many people where I live have tattoos and good jobs. Many people don’t care what’s on your skin as long as you can perform the job to the highest standard. The world is evolving and so should we.

  82. No matter how great or how bad a person is, people always will judge you by your looks. Your daughter has a pretty face….. But I am so sorry and this is just my personal opinion & I don’t mean to offend you since this is your blog, nor offend your daughter or anyone else with tattoos… But the tattoos I don’t find them pretty. Art should be on the walls. I am a sucker for beautiful art & I love art museums, music, and anything artistic. But I am not a Kim kardashian fan but she said once when asked if she had any tattoos “would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari”. And that got me thinking about marking my body with words, pictures or whatever. I am married with one daughter and I know one day she will make her own choices so I hope they are not of getting tattoos. The body is beautiful without any “art”

    1. I’d argue that. Anyone who gets a Ferrari ‘customizes’ it somehow-Kim K included.

      My tattoos are just a customization that alters my skin a bit, but certainly not my morals or what is in my heart. They’re a dedication of who I am, and people notice that, just as Ferrari lovers appreciate customization on their cars 😉

  83. Michelle Nettles says:

    So thankful I found this tonight since I became a member of your club yesterday (my dear daughter got a tattoo)!! I can’t say anything else because I am still in that fragile almost ugly cry mode. But thank you for the post and I am looking forward to reading more of your posts on this topic!!

    1. I don’t understand why now tattoos are so popular! Tattoos are ugly and employers ask to hide them because employees represent the company.

  84. Let me first state I do not have issues with tattoos.
    I’m asking one question here. What happened to accepting people for who they are?
    I had tattoos before I met my husband and he told me he doesn’t like them. My responce was I’m not getting rid of them or will I stop getting them. After 20 years he has decided her can’t look at me anymore. There are things he does that I do not like but I accept these things because I love him. What I do not understand is how anyone can believe they have any say in restricting what someone else does. Even as a parent I do not have the right to tell my children what to do. Respect must be given if it is ever to be expected. So I ask again, what happened to accepting others? Why do some people feel they can dictate what someone else does with their life? Ok 2 questions.

    1. Ok. I am now an official member of this club. Tonight I was looking for a nail clipper and knew that my son always kept one on his dresser…found the “how to care for your new tattoo card” instead. He’s away at college (sophomore), so I texted him and asked what it is and where it’s located. If he would have described that it was something inspirational, or in honor of someone, I would have been ok with it… But no… He got one of the name of a band. And not an inspirational band or spiritual group… A band whose lyrics are filthy and full of F bombs… I can’t believe that’s what he chose to have permanent inked into his skin!! I’ve gone back and forth with him all night and still haven’t been able to make him understand his poor choice and my concern about his judgment. He claims he wasn’t drinking and I believe him. I guess I should chalk it up to lack of maturity… He is interpreting my concern as a negative judgement of him as a person. Any advice ?

      1. I honestly think your reaction is pretty mild all things considered. If your son knew you were against tattoos when he got it or that you’d have a problem with the design, it is something he should have considered beforehand I believe and been prepared to deal with.

        If you are worried that your reaction might have led him to believe you don’t think highly of him as a person just because of his tattoo choice, I suppose the only thing you can do is explain your reaction and what exactly you meant by it (ie you have a problem with the design and while you do acknowledge it is his choice to have that on his body, you simply don’t approve of the design – but emphasizing that the tattoo/design choice/whatever it is that you dislike is what you don’t approve, rather than not approving him as a person).

        But that is really all you can do, it is his skin after all, so while you don’t support it (nor do you have to by the way), I’d really advise trying to keep the lines of communication open with your son: you don’t want your reaction to some ink to create a rift between you and your son because it will only get worse over time.

    2. What happened to loving your body the way it is? Why do you have to modify it and add tattoos that once were known for people who were not the best in society? Your body is your temple why add markings to it? Accept and love yourself without markings.

      1. Funny story, I used to loathe myself for years. Put myself through hell with trying to please other people and struggling immensely with body image issues. Now after all that, I see myself for who I really am and finally love myself. I then represent what I see of myself in the form of ink. Its not an act of ‘not accepting myself’ for me. Far from it. Its a celebration of myself and how far I’ve come in my journey. Of what I’ve finally come to conquer.

        All due respect, people get these for different reasons. What I just told you is mine. And just because tattoos were attained at first by people back then who weren’t the best, doesn’t mean the reasoning is still the same now.

        To me, it is not an act of destruction. It is a way of finally doing something for myself and accepting my true self and telling my story.

  85. Hi, I have negative reactions to tattoos now but I didn’t use to… what’s changed my view is that they are mainstream and common now- just pop culture really- with regard to their aesthetic value-well frankly I haven’t seen a tattoo that I would want to frame and hang on my wall…
    Recently my 18 year old daughter got a large tattoo on her upper arm. She got the picture from the web so its an original! Google peonies tattoo and you’ll find the type of thing.. Anyway I’m struggling with this and at this point in time I think she might as well have tattooed “I wasn’t thinking for myself” on her arm.. She has in my opinion just expressed ‘herd’ like behaviour which is extremely disappointing when for all those years of parenting I hoped she would be able to truly think for herself and not be subject to the whims of popular culture…it’s good to know that there are other parents out there that struggle with the ‘ugly tattoo’ thanks Cheri

  86. I just got my first tattoo and my dad hates me over it. I wrote him a five page letter explaining myself and telling him how his refusal to look past his disagreement and respect my decision hurts me. My grandfather (his dad) actually changed his own attitude towards tattoos after seeing mine and reading why I got it. If only my grandfather could convince my dad to be more open minded!

    1. This is the message that changed my grandfather’s mind: on the two year anniversary of my mom’s sudden death, I finally got my first tattoo! It’s her last heartbeat trailing into her handwriting ” love always ” and I’m so in love. I got it on my left side, close to my heart so that my mom’s heartbeat will forever be with mine and she’ll always be by my side no matter what! Now when I walk across that graduation stage in may, say “yes” to a man on one knee, ” I do ” to him in a chapel, and ” I love you ” to my future children she’ll be there ? She will live on through me and be with me forever with ‘ love always’.

      1. That’s so touching. I’m sorry about your mom and also sorry about your father’s reaction to it (have you tried talking to him about it? is it because it reminds him of your mother or something?). It’s great your grandfather was positive about it though. Maybe with time your father will come around, you’ve done all you could at this point.

  87. Krystal Mires says:

    I am so pleased to find this site!
    My daughter who has lived most of her life with my mother whom is her grandmother called me last night to tell me that she picked my daughter up from college over the weekend and she was wearing a sweatshirt all weekend which was odd as it was hot, but she didn’t say anything. She drove her back to the college stopping first at a department store to buy her undergarments and when my daughter took off her sweatshirt she had a tattoo covering her forearm with the words “life is short, don’t worry” with artistry-at least 6 inches by 6 inches on her forearm! Our entire family does not embrace the tattoo culture so she was hysterical in the department store and the clerk said, “don’t you love her unconditionally”. My mother replied, I am not sure. My mom dropped her off and drove away and called my crying hysterically. I am devastated as well. My main concern is that I think of tattooed people as dirty, druggy, unclean, non-professional. I usually do not hang around with people that have them or associate with them. How can I hold my child again? How can I be proud of her? My career involves hiring people and making hiring decisions and doing a body check for tattoos and piercings is usually our first screening process at many of the employers that I have worked for, granted I am hiring for Executive Roles, but now my daughter—who just recently turned 18….has eliminated many of her possible career options. She has decreased her earning capacity by making this foolish decision. I am hurt, angry and mad…so many emotions that now I can barely work…..well that is not the end of this story. My mom felt bad thinking that she would kill herself, etc and turned around to talk to her. When my daughter returned, my mom discovered that she had yet another tattoo just as large on the other arm…this time a large bleeding diamond with the word hope above it. It does not match the other arm in symmetry or design. I don’t think that I can speak to my daughter again. I think this is trash…I am devastated. She was a prom queen and her class vice president, but she has always drawn all over herself with pens from a very small age. My mother demanded to know what these meant and she said that she didn’t want to explain because we wouldn’t understand why her art is beautiful…..we don’t…she can’t even come into our homes from now on…we can’t invite her to family outings, our church, etc. My mother is upset that she will not have the options to date nice people and become a good mother. What mother holds a baby tattooed from head to toe? What will the school think of a parent like that? I thought about taking my own life last night feeling devastated that I had failed as a parent….I am crying while I am at work writing this right now. She has stolen my joy…what do I do? She knew our values…her body is her temple…why did she make this permanent decision….what is next? Her neck, face, hands, legs, back? My biggest nightmare….
    I heard from my younger daughter that she had many online boyfriends who were tattoo artists and I think they are using her to practice. She has never had a real boyfriend as of date. She has never brought anyone other than a friend home. Now she has all of these guys that she meets online that are tattoo artists talking to her at all hours of the night…How can I stop this? What do these tattoos mean? Does she not love or care about herself? She is telling my mother that she will kill herself if my mom does not buy her a car for college…is she seeking to hurt us? I don’t know what to do…feeling hopeless….what can I do? Now I feel really bad because most of the parents on here have embraced their children…I must be the worst mother on earth. God is surely punishing me…

    1. My daughter got a tattoo yesterday – large one on her upper arm… thinking so many of the things you have mentioned- like you I can’t believe my daughter would make a decision that would limit her choices in the future- it’s like she has chosen some other path that doesn’t make sense to me- I’m so sad cause until yesterday she was so full of possibility and so beautiful. now she has a huge ugly black outlined pair of peonies on her upper arm- I suppose phase two will be filling in the awful things with some coloured ink…. I wasn’t expecting it. I think its really hard because unlike other difficult moments in parenting which pass with time, tattoos are permanent… I have no idea how I will feel tomorrow, next week or next year but for now I, like you, am devastated.

    2. I just found this webpage today, and I feel very much like you do. I tried to be strong when I first saw this horrid tattoo on my child’s arm, but by the time I got home tears were streaming down my face as I realize she will NEVER be the beautiful bride by her stupid choice! I am devastated. I think it is trashy and unprofessional, and she has squandered money on something that takes away her future opportunities to work in a respectable industry. She works in a restaurant, and chose not to go to college though I would have paid for it.

      I am so sad and tomorrow is mothers day but I don’t think I want to be around her. My mothers day is ruined.

  88. I am exactly where your at, I only have one child a beautiful 20 year old daughter, first I must say I have 5 tattoo’s, but they are all small in size and our easy to cover, my daughter got her first one, done by a friend at 16 without my permission and was horribly done, I agreed she could cover it up by a professional after she turned 18, but ever since they just keep on coming, she lives with goes to beauty school and works at a local restaurant, after each new one she looks me in the eye and swears it’s her last one, I’m completely upset by these tattoo and the fact that she looks me in the eyes and lies to me, with this last one I saw yesterday I have decided to cut her off financial, I told her I expect rent, she will now have to pay her own car insurance, I did pre-warn her this would happen after the last one I found, I just don’t understand why she continues to get them, she tells me she just trying to express herself but I wonder how she’s going to fill about them in 10 years, I’m at a complete loss, I myself could use some advice.

    1. Joann:

      Just try to stand back a bit and think: You yourself have 5 tattoos, you said. Currently you’re upset that your daughter also has been wanting to get tattooed, albeit in various different designs. Maybe a multiple tattooed mom would in the end find some way to live with the fact that her daughter also expects to be multiple tattooed?

  89. I have read the comments and like some I am in the same dilemma. I have a beautiful daughter along with 2 handsome sons. My eldest son got his tattoo his first year in college, he hates it now at 32 and regrets it. My other son waited a while but eventually by 20 had gotten several tattoos which out of respect for my husband and I he hid them from us for at least a year. They are ugly and I don’t really understand the meaning behind them. Which from what I have been reading it seems some people really put a lot of thought into them and they have deep meanings. My sons tattoos are cats with hats the grim reaper and some sort of postcard with a skeleton driving a car, I am sure he had to have been drunk or on drugs when he got those. He went on to join a carnival and got a tattoo about carny life on his leg. My daughter has promised her dad she would wait until we were no longer financially supporting her to get a tattoo. So far she has kept her promise. I believe there are several issues I have with tattoos. My boys paid for their tattoos while we were financially supporting them, knowing we did not approve of them, the same way my son paid for drugs while we were financially supporting them, so for me I am resentful that while my husband and I were working hard to put them through school and feed them they were essentially spending our hard earned money for their follies. That is what angers me about there tattoos and every time I see them I am reminded of how their act of rebellion caused us to have resentment against them. On a side note every time I see a young person with several tattoos come into the hospital I work at to get a procedure done I see money spent on foolishness while my tax dollars pay for their hospital bill because they can not afford health insurance, but yet they have thousands of dollars on their body. I wonder where people’s priorities are at that seems to upset me. If it is a fad it is an expensive one. Growing long hair in the 60s was not an expense. It did not take food out your children’s mouth to do it. I love art and would love to have priceless pieces hanging in my house, but would I get it at the cost of not taking care of my family, like paying rent or the electric, there is where I have such an objection. Perhaps the issue with me truly isn’t so much about what some one is doing to their beautiful body because I think I could get pass that, for me it is more about what responsibility did that person neglect by getting this. If they are still being supported by their parents, or by their government perhaps waiting to get one would be better. So when I see tattoos that is what stirs inside of me first. The other thing is why can I not have opinion that I just don’t like them. Why do I have to feel bad about that opinion. I can still love my children and disagree with their choices. I need to make sure that my opinion does not drive a wedge between us. I will always love my children but I know I don’t always like their choices, and a tattoo is a constant reminder of a poor choice they have made, at least the ones my boys have gotten. My daughter totally disagrees with me and my opinion and I am ok with that, but when she does get her tattoo I will be disappointmented but I will still love her.

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  91. My daughter is 24, still lives at home and suffers from mental health issues like depression and anxiety. She has been in plenty of relationships but they always break down because of her personality. She is extremely difficult to love because she can be so horrible. She hit the “terrible twos” and has never grown out of it. Despite seeking medical advice since she was little I was never given any support (or diagnosis) and so my husband and I carried on parenting as best as we could.

    As soon as she started college the “wild child” emerged even more. She had multiple piercings, stayed out all night, got drunk, and slept around. Something would always happen and she would fall out with the current BFF and we would be there to console and cajole her. She would become a sweet, kind loving child for a short while and then the cycle would start all over again.

    She got her first tattoo at 18. It was only small and was somewhere it could not be seen. I cwas disappointed but I could live with it. About a year later she got some song lyrics on her ribs along with an infinity symbol and a small love heart on the nape of her neck. I accepted these better than the first one although I still did not like them. Niw she has got a massive one on her thigh and is planning anothe one on the other leg in a few weeks.

    I am so upset by it. I am angry with myself for not being able to understand it all and why am actually finding myself disliking her. What is wrong with me? I’m her Mum for goodness sake and should not feel like I do. I try so hard but to no avail. I have felt so alone on the issue but reading your blog and others comments has helped. I actually cried over some of them. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  92. I am new to your blog and am anxious to get through all of the comments. I am so very thankful I happened to be in the car to hear part of your broadcast on AFA. (or at least I think that was the affiliate) I, too, have an artsy lovely daughter who has tatoos and piercings that I have a problem with. She also has dreadlocks. It has been a major struggle for me and really more so for her dad. We see these ‘improvements’ as distracting from the person she is. She faces all sorts of prejudices because of her ‘look’. And I must admit that we were fighting those same notions in the beginning. She is now 21 and living with her boyfriend who has longer dreads than she does. They are spending the winter months in Peru working on farms. They are not following the Lord and that is where my concern lies now, instead of her external appearance. My husband is still stuck on the look, but I am straining to be the best Jesus representative that they see. I love them and pray for them continually.

  93. Hi Cheri!
    A Christian friend of mine shared a post in this series and I’ve been reading all of them now! I should start by telling you I was born and raised in a Christian household, lived in the church practically, until I was about 15 and eventually headed down another path. As a heavily tattooed woman coming from a Christian family, I know my mother struggled with the same issues you did. I remember her telling me that my tattoos would look beautiful on a wall, just not on my body. My parents were both convinced it was a phase, that I was ruining my body and I’d regret it and it was the worst decision I’d ever made. Ten years later, they realize it’s not a phase, this is me and they’re a lot more open and accepting. My mom more than my dad. I appreciate you sharing because I can understand more of her feelings when we went through this. <3

  94. Sandra D. says:

    I have a 19 yr. old beautiful daughter who just moved in with her boyfriend. (He happens to be covered with tattoos) My daughter has always wanted a tattoo but like many other parents I would not allow it while she lived at home. I had always advised her against tattoos for the obvious reasons: It’s permanent, You’ll regret it later, no one respects people who are covered in tattoos or even takes them seriously. My lecturing was to no avail. The minute she was out of the house she ran to the tattoo parlor. I was upset, cried even, when she told she had gotten one, but when she finally showed it to her father and I, well all I can say is my husband cried. And we were devastated. A tattoo is one thing, I think I could have eventually accepted it, but the tattoo she got was goth and hideous and is large enough to cover the whole front of her thigh. I am beside myself. I too am desperate to find a way to get past this and she her for her inner self but am feeling like I don’t really know, and maybe never really did know, the real her. I will be very interested in seeing how this all turns out for you and maybe I will find what I need from it also. Thank you so much for blogging about this.

  95. I come from a family where both my brothers are covered in tattoos. I also have one. My husband’s family is very against tattoos. When my younger brother in law got a tattoo, my mother in law cried. She sobbed. My father in law was angry, as was my sister in law. And I stood there thinking, “What’s the big deal?” I think so much of our perspective in life comes from what we are used to. Having family covered in tattoos made it normal to me, thus it was never a taboo thing for me. Whereas, my husband’s family is very much the opposite of my family. They think ink poisoning, unprofessional, etc. Eventually, you get used to the tattoos and don’t notice them anymore. They become normal to you. But, I can only imagine what my reaction will be when/if one of my babies comes home with their first tattoo. Inking up a perfectly good body! I get why your bothered. In fact, I admire your courage not only to admit your struggle with it, but to try to work through it. This makes you such an amazing and loving mom. I pray that you find the peace with your daughter’s tattoos that you are looking for.

  96. Cheri, I personally have 2 tattoos. I love them. They are very personal and special to me. I wanted one from the time I was only 17, yet I waited until I was 30 to get it. I could have done it years before but I wanted to be absolutely sure beyond a shadow of a doubt as to what I wanted and where I wanted it. My first one symbolizes my family. It is important to me. Earlier this year I got a second one, a Scripture that is very personal to me. My husband also has two, one representing our family and a cross. Both personal and special to him. We both spent a number of years thinking, talking and even PRAYING before getting them.

    Two of my four kids would like to get tattoos later on, We have told them that we are okay with it, But we encourage them to follow our lead, Don’t do it at 18. What you want at 18 may not be what you want for the rest of your life. Wait until you are in your mid twenties at least. Think long and hard about it. Put it in a place that can be covered. Some employers do not allow them. Make it something meaningful to you. And always pray about it.

    If your daughter’s tattoos mean something to her, embrace it as being her.

    1. “Don’t do it at 18. What you want at 18 may not be what you want for the rest of your life. Wait until you are in your mid twenties at least. Think long and hard about it. Put it in a place that can be covered. Some employers do not allow them. Make it something meaningful to you. ”
      I think that is excellent parenting advice. Just excellent. Your children are very lucky to have you as a parent.

  97. Cheri,
    I’m a 43yr old divorced father of a BEAUTIFUL 11-yr-old young lady. Her mother and I never had tattoos, but my daughter always LOVED the temporary ones you buy at the store and always asked when they were being airbrushed at a carnival, etc. I made it through college, and a fraternity, without being inked. When I left for the Army, my mother asked me to promise her that I wouldn’t get a tattoo. I did. When I came home a few years later, I discovered both my younger sisters with tattoos. One even had her tongue pierced. (I believe my quote upon seeing it for the first time was, “WTF IS THAT?!?”) But my sisters were adults at that point, and made their own choices.

    The idea of MY getting one reared its head once in a while. I’d find a photo, hang it somewhere conspicuous where I could see it daily for a while. Could never find one I liked well enough to want permanently. So, last year, following a messy divorce / custody battle / 2 moves in 5 months / 2 re-alignments at work / dog died / etc. I had an idea for a piece I wanted. I sketched, re-sketched, and re-re-sketched until I came up with something VERY PERSONAL. I then researched artists to find one I thought could handle my work properly. Just so happened that my father and I flew to Nevada (from New York) last summer for a family funeral. I contacted an artist there. Three hours on a Sunday afternoon and it was done.

    It was a memorable trip for my father and I for MANY reasons. I showed him the tattoo on the way home and explained the various meanings I included. I texted a photo to my daughter back home. She loved it. Although as my “little mother hen”, I’m supposed to consult with HER regarding any future ink. ;-). I used it as a lesson for her. I explained the process, and the pain involved. I explained the commitment – f.o.r. l.i.f.e. I wanted her to understand that the art I now bore on my shoulder held GREAT meaning for me and future pieces would also. We have friends who also have ink. I’ve explained that each of their pieces hold great meaning. That each tattoo is a celebration or commemoration of something important and it should NOT be taken lightly. It’s also important to ME that tattoos are personal enough to be covered by standard business attire. As long as it fits beneath pants and a short sleeved shirt, it’s fine with me. No inked sleeves here.

    She announced to me the other day that her first tattoo will be the Disney character STITCH, with the quote “Ohana means Family. Family means no one gets left behind.” :-). To her, family is everything. She GETS it. But not for a while yet. Lol

    Your daughter is gorgeous! Her tattoos, what I can see of them, are beautiful and well done. If each holds great meaning to her personally, I see no reason why she shouldn’t express herself. My next one will likely be in honor of my daughter. (Tattoos are like potato chips. You can’t have “just one”.)


  98. I fall into the category of one who used to have a bad reaction from tattoos but no longer do. I think the change happened for me when the Lord showed me that he still loves her and values her exactly the same way he did before, and that all he cares about is her heart. Do I care about my daughter’s heart, or about the rainbow heart she has tattooed behind her ear? (There are much larger, more difficult implications surrounding this, but I won’t go into those here.) Her heart is what I want to keep. Her ink, to her, is art. She has more tattoos now, and always shows them to me. I think they’re pretty. I don’t want any. I would never recommend someone GET ONE, but they are part of her, and I love her. It has been a long learning curve for me but I have come to accept my daughter as she is, rather than how I wanted her to turn out. I think that is the biggest challenge, really.

  99. Thank you for your openness and honesty! I think people get tattoos for a lot of reasons and also have distaste for them for various reasons. I have 4 and each have strong meaning to me – All of them I share with a member of my family or my best friend and they are of meaningful things (like the 4 leaf clover my mother drew that she, my mom and sister all have for my grandmother in heaven who had an uncanny ability to find clovers everywhere she looked). Let me say that a lot of people would probably not initially think I am the kind of person to have a tattoo. I am a Pastor’s assistant at a large church and otherwise look pretty conservative in dress. But I grew up in a home where it was normal. My dad was (laughing at previous comments) a hippie with (and still has at age 64) long hair. All the military men in my family had tattoos and it was something I associated with all the men I loved as just normal. My parents have become heavily involved in the biker’s ministry at our church and almost all of these people have tattoos. And I have even seen it open conversations with other bikers so they can talk about the Lord. A tattoo witnessing tool, never would have thought of that! So for me it was always a cultural/familial identity. I do appreciate that others didn’t grow up with that kind of thinking. Now that being said, there will be rules as my children grow about them and they will have to be self-supporting before they get tattoos. As you said, they cost money and it is not something I am willing to pay for and also not something I think that is wise to get at a young age before we can really judge what is best. If you get a tattoo on your arm that you will need to cover up for a job later on, you are going to have regret.

  100. My children are all still at home. My oldest is about to turn 16. I explained to them all that while they are at home they must abide by our standard of dress when they move out they are free to make their own decisions on such things.

    So far none of my kids want tattoos nor any piercings. I do have a 6 year old son that wants a Mohawk. I told him that when he is grown and living on his own, if he still wants a mohawk he can get one and I won’t say a thing against it.

    In my mind the same goes with tattoos. Once they are grown that is their decision. I just won’t let them while they are under my supervision.

    Now that said if let’s just say my 16 year old one day showed up with a tattoo, we’re not going to kick him out of the house. I will express my disappointment that he couldn’t wait until he was out of the house but after that I won’t have a problem with it. Maybe a sadness at first every time I see it because he didn’t obey our wishes.

    Thankfully this is hypothetical in my case. I hope I won’t be tested in real life on this one. 🙂

    1. Heya Anastacia — Thanks for sharing your perspective. Out of curiosity, what do you mean by “once they are grown” — of legal age or self-supporting? We never had any rules about tattoos; Annemarie had said she’d never get one, so it was a non-issue. I do have friends who told their children that piercings (other than ears) and/or tattoos would be received as announcements: “Hi Mom and Dad, I’m moving into my own place today!” I used to feel like such a flexible parent because I never made such rigid rules, but I’m learning that flexibility can be a tricky — and selective! — thing.

      1. When I say that I mean old enough to move out and live on their own. Of course we wouldn’t throw our children out of the house but as long as they live with us they have responsibilities to our family. It is a hard line to place some boundaries but we explain it to our children. While they live with us every choice they make reflects on our whole family. My husband is a preacher and whether it is right or wrong we are held by the outside world to a very high standard. So my response to my 6 year old wanting a mohawk is that when he grows up if he still wants one then it will be up to him but as long as he is under my roof the answer is “no.”

        Now my children have heard of the process of how tattoos are permanently burned to their skin so none of them want one. They also all cringe at the thought of having holes poked in their ears or anywhere else on their body. Perhaps it helps that I don’t wear earings. I don’t think any of their friends have tattoos either so right now I don’t think I will have to deal with this. However it could happen. So I guess I would just roll with the punch if they did something like that while still living at home. Technically it wouldn’t change who they are on the inside and they may regret the decision which may reflect poorly on the rest of the family but I would still love them and forgive them just like God forgives me when I mess up.

        1. My daughter has always over stepped boundaries. It was easy when she was younger as I could ground her etc. She is nearly 24, still at home but she earns her own money and pays us rent so there is nothing I can do now. Her room is still a mess and I am forever asking her to clean it but she shrugs it off and has said that I would never throw her out but there are times when I am sorely tempted to ask her to leave. To be honest part of my wishes she would move out and then maybe she might become much more responsible. A private landlord woukd not let her off the rent just because she is a bit short of cash. Or it could go horribly wrong and she could get into even worse trouble. Id rather the money spent on tattoo’s was put towards a home of her own 🙁

  101. donna sweeney says:

    My distaste surrounding tatoos, piercings and all other forms of bodily mutilation including breast implants comes from a feeling that God creates each and every one of us perfectly, just as we should be and we should not mess with that perfection.

    1. Donna — Thank you for sharing your perspective. This is very much how I was raised. When I was pregnant with Annemarie, I read about a young mother who went in for breast augmentation surgery and died from complications with the anesthesia, leaving her husband a widow with three small children. I remember thinking what an unnecessary tragedy it was.

  102. Carla Peck says:

    I have always taught my children NOT to judge others by what they see on the outside. All of my children have numerous tattoos; I have two sons and one daughter. God made us in His image —-INSIDE! not outside!
    I could not love all of my children any more or any less because of how they choose to present themselves to the world. BTW, My oldest is a deputy sheriff, my middle son is a chef, and my daughter has a degree in psychology, is working on her MBA, and works for a mortage company. The days when only convicts and bums had tattoos are over, get over yourself!

    1. Carla — Thanks for sharing your perspective. Have you always been able to see past externals like this? I’m clear that I need to “get over” myself; what I’m less clear on is how. Hearing from so many women with so many different experiences is definitely a step in the right direction.

      1. I’m not sure you have to get over yourself Cheri. I am worried as to what others perpective of my daughter will be. She has so many other issues that she is difficult to be with and when I found out about the latest tattoo my initial thoughts were she will never find anyone to love her now (she is so desperate to be loved and have children) and I told her this too. She said I was being ridiculous which I probably am, but that thought is niggling away at me. I am not a religous person and so my only faith is in human nature and sadly it is not always very kind 🙁

  103. Oh Cheri,
    You have opened a can of worms as that is what this topic is to me. Firsts you have to understand where I am coming from. As an African, it is all about image; if my children were brought up right, they will do the right thing. It is only those who are from bad upbringing that do such thing; because they were raised in Christian homes, they were purified to do rightly. The second thing is what will people say; how dare my children disgrace me by putting marks all over their bodies, or doing drugs, or acting as teenagers; all of these are “What will people say” mentality and I have enslaved myself to them. The more I focused on these, the more gaps were created between my growing teenagers and I. As long we focus on the image issues, what not to do to their bodies, we had no relationship whatsoever. As the Lord began to draw me closer to His will and walk with Him, there were certain things that no longer matter; some being the images and what people thing. I realized that I had only today to do things right not my way, but God’s way. He started using words let; ” Let go, you have only now for tomorrow is not promised to you.” Suddenly, it hit me, I have been blessed, because non of my parents lived to see my children. Here I am with this great gifts of watching them turning into successful people in society and instead of being grateful I was all engulfed in bitterness and missing out. I realized I might have given them birth, but I was not in charge of them. When I make prayer my aim to the One who changes hearts, on their own, the tongue piecing went away, the long dragged hair were cut, strange way of dressing disappeared and that because I let go and let God do His work in them. For now, I want to build relationship for the time given me by the Lord for He says: Today is yours, and tomorrow is not promised.” Sarah Young puts it right when she said: “The Creator of the universe is with me and needs a deeper level of walk ant not engaging efforts of control or refusing to stop worry;” not even what my children do to themselves.

    1. Heya Lucy — Thank you so much for sharing about your heart shifting experiences. I thought I’d avoided the trap of seeing the results of my children’s choices as the report card on my parenting skills…not so much! Jeremiah 31:3 has been on my heart for many months, now, and that’s an anti-control, anti-worry verse if there ever was one!

  104. Leslie Schmidt says:

    Annemarie is such a beautiful young woman, inside and out. When I saw her picture, I admit I was surprised she had so many tattoes but I think they are all very tasteful and artistic. You express yourself in words, you encouraged your children to be artistic and creative as they grew up, so this is her way of expressing those words and art combined. Different than the way we were raised? YES! Our son has a tattoo with our names in it as a way of thanking us for all we’ve done for him (sun, moon and stars with our names). It is a very tasteful tattoo, even though quite large on one top arm/shoulder area. He thought on it for a number of years (about ten). I had told him to not rush into it, and not have something he would regret later, but I knew it was inevitable that he get one or more (not yet). I laugh when I think of the tattooes getting saggy as people get older and what they will look like. I would never get one, but I express my art in different ways. I remember when my dad couldn’t even wear colored shirts to work at the bank, then they were allowed to wear pastel colors. I remember when you couldn’t wear a pierced earring to work, not it’s no big deal. Some places of work state that tattooes must be covered up, but most allow it now.

    Now, when I see someone with a tattoo, I often will comment on their nice art work, ask to see it, and ask them to explain it to me. They are often surprised to see an “older” person talk to them about their tats. They are proud enough of their designs to show them off, and it is interesting to hear their stories behind what motivated the art work.

    Is this just a fad? Most likely, as were a lot of things that people have done to rebel in the past. Is it something that is not Biblically sound? Probably, but so are a lot of choices we make in life. Does that make the person less lovable? Not at all. I think we need to continue to look at where their heart is and pray for them and our inability to accept them. You have raised a self-confident daughter with a heart of gold and an artistic nature. You have an amazing connection with her, she is blessed to have you talk to her and share her life with others. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

    1. Leslie — You’re reminding me of the first time I found Annemarie coloring “outside the lines” … she was just a toddler and had gotten bored of her coloring book. The white walls of the living room were so much bigger and less confining! 🙂 You nailed it for me with “we need to continue to…pray for …our inability to accept them.” I do have an amazing connection with my daughter one that I want to … protect? Or maybe nurture? Or maybe those are words that fit better with childhood and I need to find new ones to fit where we’re at now? Thanks for sharing your perspective and making me think! 🙂

  105. Stephanie Hein says:

    I am sorry that you are having which a difficult time with your daughter’s tattoos. I myself have 1 in honor of all of my beloved soldiers in my life. I had mine done in a special trip along with my mother in law. For a lot of people, tattoos are a way of telling a story or showing a passion for something. My daughter had one done a couple of years ago by her nest friend in elementary school. It is a small tasteful tattoo that will be easily covered when in the work place. She has done things that I wouldn’t do & I pray that God will forgive her for but they are her things to deal with God about. I definitely don’t want to lose the relationship I have with her over a decision when she could make so many worse ones that will affect her tender heart & personality that she was created in my womb with. We are all sinners compared to the perfect lamb. I hope this helps.

    1. Heya Stephanie — Thanks for sharing your experience…what a special trip, indeed! The idea of getting a tattoo with an older woman in my life is completely foreign, so this was a great new perspective for me to imagine. And I am SO with you on this: “I definitely don’t want to lose the relationship I have with her…”

  106. sonyamacdesigns says:

    For many years I held a great disgust in the pit of my soul for the ink on the skin. But, after the death of both of my parents my nieces held memorials to their beloved Grandparents RIGHT there on their skin. I stopped focusing on the ink and began to focus on the Love and or the inspiration behind the ink.

    1. Sonya — You bring up a heavy word: “disgust.” Thank you for sharing your experience of seeing tattoos from a different perspective because of the choices that people you loved made regarding people they and you loved!

  107. Cheri I love your heart in this. Thank you for being transparent.

  108. Hi Cherie,
    Thanks for speaking at my church on Saturday, you are awesome! The problem I have with tattoos is that they are permanent, or at least very hard to remove if someone changes their mind later. I agree with a previous comment-a tattoo that someone gets at age 20 will not have the same meaning when they are 40. Then what? Or how about the guy who has his girlfriend’s name tattooed on his arm, only to break up with her. I don’t think his future wife would be very happy with that. Tattoos are not just about the person getting them.
    When someone has a lot of visible tattoos that is naturally what our eyes are drawn to, not the person themselves. My daughter has a tattoo on her wrist, which I am not thrilled about but it is hardly visible. One of her dearest friends, whom I love dearly, has almost her entire back covered (and it is actually a quite beautiful tattoo), but when you first meet her that’s not the first thing you notice! It is her beautiful smile and wonderfully quirky personality that draws people to her.

    1. Ce Ce — The irreversibility was what hit me the hardest, initially…I’ll be writing about that this upcoming Tattuesday. And your point about where our eyes are drawn is an interesting one for me to ponder further as an entirely non-visual person. Thanks for your perspective … and I had a BLAST with your group! 🙂

  109. Cheri, your daughter is beautiful. I appreciate that you are writing about something that you struggle with still. So far no one in my family has a tattoo, that I’m aware of, so I haven’t walked in your shoes. Any “advice” or “wisdom” I might try to offer you would be like a childless woman giving parenting advice. Probably not very useful. But as I was reading your post, I kept thinking about a beautiful friend I had coffee with the other day. Her (untattooed) daughter was killed when her bicycle was hit by a car last fall. That kind of loss puts so many things into perspective. Her only comfort at this point is her daughter was a Christian and she knows she will see her again. I don’t want to make light of your struggle at all…but I think Jesus looks at our hearts not our appearance. When we focus on appearance, what are we ignoring? Who are we not serving? Who are we judging? Who are we not loving? Don’t be ashamed of your daughter or apologize for her. Trust that God will work in her life and bring her to the life he has for her.

    1. Charlotte — Wise words, thank you. You’ve hit on one of the reasons I chose to go public: accountability, and on a larger scale than “just” a counselor or support group. Time is passing…time I can’t ever get back. More than 30 women have invested almost 10,000 words worth of stories, understanding, questions, and challenges. I appreciate your perspective!

  110. Hi Cherie,
    This blog really caught my attention. I am a Pastor’s kid and have young adult-age daughters. One whose ears are pierced and another who isn’t really into piercing. I have strong, deep convictions about what God has intended for His girls to look like. I think there are strong and valuable principles behind these standards. I’ve been disappointed with some of the decisions my daughter has made but I realize that God is big enough to save her and grow her! It hasn’t changed my deep love for her and that’s what I think is the strongest message our children need from us. That we love them, that God loves them and that He will take care of the important stuff! A different topic but one where I had SUCH similar struggles is the topic of teen pregnancy. I thought I was compassionate and non-judgmental until it happened to my daughter’s best friend. I struggled for months, and still do against the need to form a judgement! The term you came up with “Love Idol” really resonated with me! I believe that when there is another, innocent life involved, God’s instructions are there because they are BEST. That being said, I have to continually fall back on the fact that God’s love is bigger than mine and he is able to save “to the uttermost”. We are the only conduits of that love there are here on earth; the arms that hold, the hands that sooth. Even when we don’t have words, we can love.

    1. Heya Denise — Annemarie is a PK and a TK … pastor’s kid and teacher’s kid. So she’s been in the fishbowl since birth. And you’re so right — teen pregnancy fits right in to this conversation. I see the occasional article about “If you parent like this, then your kids won’t do that” but I’ve seen scant discussion of how we respond when that actually happens, both immediately and long-term. Love is always the answer, but figuring out what love looks like in the midst of life’s messiness is my struggle. Thanks for contributing your perspective!

  111. Cheri,
    I think this is the statement where you you sell reality short:. “Many (perhaps even most) Christian women have not and never will struggle with this. They are spiritually mature enough to see past any issue. But some of us discover, the hard way, that we know far less about love and grace than we thought.”

    Most Moms, particularly Christian Moms, come across a ‘tattoo’ moment or two. Perhaps it is a tattoo, or a LGBT child or an abortion or pregnancy, interracial girlfriends, drugs or alcohol. Those moments when our kids show us our prejudices, our fears, while they are smiling back at us and seeking approval. Or totally crushed and needing not to hear or feel “I told you so.” Of course our hopes and dreams did not include (insert event here). The reason it is so hard to overcome is that not only will the old biddies in church gossip about our precious child, we are forced to admit that not too many months ago we would have joined them in condescension.

    And once again we have nowhere to go but to Jesus. To help us learn about something new in life, to help us love unconditionally and most of all to forgive our smugness again. And again, and again. And maybe to pray for the old biddies who have no idea how destructive they are and the other Mom’s, because eventually they will meet their ‘tattoo’.

    And the beauty is that each time we see how grace and love is endless, perpetual and free, each time we grow closer to God’s heart. It’s not that we didn’t know anything about grace and love before, just that now we have experienced another facet of that ever brilliant diamond. And if there really is anyone in church who hasn’t eventually experienced one of their children getting a ‘tattoo’ we will pity them a little for not having seen the depth of God’s love.

    1. GirlMom — So, I almost said, “I need to tattoo this to my forehead” which would have been really ironic, now, wouldn’t it? “Of course our hopes and dreams did not include (insert event here).” So much YES to so much of this!

  112. joni24walter says:

    I get your feelings but feel this next generation seems to express with their bodies. Often wondering why they want to. I feel it takes away from their natural beauty and why are they covering it up. My child to leave family memorial on body in tattoos. I dont get it either. So i with you loving those with tays cuz not all who have them live gothic presumed lifestyle.

    1. Joni — Hmmm…I need to think about the whole “express with their bodies” idea…due to my own experiences, I tend to see that as only negative and need to consider other perspectives. Thanks for your input!

  113. I admit. I struggle with the whole tattoo thing. My son was the first to get them & then his older sister got one. They give me their reasons but honestly, all I can see are markings on their body that will be there for the rest of their life. I know the purpose of their tattoo’s are important to them now, but will they still carry the same significance when they are 40,50,70 yrs old? I have many friends who are not trying to get their tattoo’s removed because they regret getting them.
    I am not so concerned with what others will think of me as a mom of kids with tattoo’s. My friends know me & they know my kids. I think I am just more concerned about them regretting them later. I’ve prayed about it and the Lord is working on me. But I still cringe inside everytime I see their markings.

    1. Heya Dana — Thanks for sharing your perspective! Many moms who were fine with tattoos on other people have told me that they had a hard time seeing the markings on their child. I’ll be sharing some empathy research in a future blog post that helped me understand my “cringe reflex” a bit better!

  114. Cheri, I almost didn’t comment here because there were so many who already did. I am like Cathy. I have these weird conflicting emotions and opinions. I think I was raised in an era where they were considered things “bad” people did to their bodies. Even in the church, I have heard people say things like “Don’t make markings for the dead” and relate that to tatoos. Even though I don’t agree with that thought, I have probably internalized some of that attitude along the way. Somehow, I think I have an unconscious theology which contradicts my stated theology. When I picture Jesus (to modernize the image), I think of Him sitting around with people who ride Harleys and have tats and piercings. Those are His people. He doesn’t love the tats, He just sees beyond them with ease. And, yet, (here’s the conflict) when I think of the Father in the Old Testament and the need for holiness and not desecrating anything, especially the “temple,” I get an entirely other feeling. So, I guess I don’t have the answer. I have a friend who has tatooed scripture on her body. Does that redeem the act? Is it an act which needs redemption? In this era, it is so common for all sorts of people to get tatoos. If I weren’t afraid of pain, I might even have ventured that way at one time. I’m not a hypocrite – just torn. I will say that when I see someone with tats all over and piercings I wonder what trauma they endured or what acts they are willing to engage in and I also assume they don’t know the Lord. Totally rotten, I know. I don’t stay in that place, but those can be my initial thoughts. That said, my sweet Zumba teacher has a sleeve and a tat across her whole back and I just love her and think she’s trendy in ways I never could be. Ay yi yi.

    1. Heya Patty — So glad you did comment. “Somehow, I think I have an unconscious theology which contradicts my stated theology. ” I SO get this! And this: “Ay yi yi.” 😉

  115. This is what I would say: how wonderful you’ve raised a daughter who is confident enough to be her own girl. I know one of your themes is how difficult life can be as a strict rule-follower; isn’t it wonderful your daughter won’t struggle with quite the same issue? And…she is beautiful!( I have 2 boys, and I tell them, “BYOB,” which for us means,” Be your own boy.”)

    1. Heya Carol — Well, now, why didn’t I think of it this way from the very start?!? 🙂 LOVE your acronym “BYOB”!!!

  116. The truth is, it is all in your head!

    We immigrated to Australia, where tattoos are very common. It took me five yeats to get used to it. I was brought up to associate tattoos with a certain “class” but as good Christians we never said it. We just lived it. I was prejudiced and narrowminded, I just never realised it. I had to accept that, and change.

    I dont condemn you and fully understand your reaction, mine was the same initially. Just relax. Tattoos does not make you anything other than an individual, it is ok, just realise it is ok.


    1. JK — You’re right — it is all in my head. I know that logically … just trying to move that “knowledge” down to my heart. Over the last couple of months, the Holy Spirit has been revealing some long-held beliefs and attitudes that I was “brought up” with, as you said. It’s not been pretty, but it’s been necessary. I appreciate both your understanding and challenging me!

    2. You might have gone to Australia with the notion somehow that tattoos are somehow ‘unladylike’, but now that you have settled in you’ve realized already that they can in fact be very womanly. And manly, of course.

  117. Cheri, I have conflicting thoughts about tattoos. Personally, I would like one. I small, cute one. Perhaps, on my ankle. Most tattoos on others don’t bother me, and I try to compliment people on them. It is a great way to start a discussion, because most tattoos come with special meaning. However, the older I get, I also look at many tattoos and think, “you’re probably going to regret that later.” Usually, I think that because of the location or what it means or says. And, one final thought, my seventy something year old dad has a tattoo from his navy days that he regrets. He’s worked tirelessly to get it removed in his later years. So I guess you could say, I have a well-rounded opinion. lol
    By the way, your daughter is beautiful!

    1. Heya Cathy — Love your multiple perspectives! I don’t talk to anyone about their tattoos, ever. In fact, if I’m honest, I don’t really talk to people who have tattoos. Gotta ponder that, too.

  118. Phyllis Drew says:

    Cheri ~ To me, tattoos use to equal people who were part of the biker gang, Hell’s Angels. It meant that if I saw anyone with tattoos, that they would probably kill, rape, harm me and those I loved in some way. It meant that the person or person’s had no morals, thought they could do anything they wanted and that they did not have to obey any laws. People with tattoos invoked a great fear in me. Did I know anyone with a tattoo? Of course not! I was a good “Christian” woman, the secretary of my church, who did not associate with “those” kind of people. Were they going to hell? Absolutely! Where else would they go?! And all of this was totally based on what I had seen on TV and in the movies.

    Then one day a guy came into the office with his mom. She was the church counselor and she had foster kids. Her son would watch the kids in the office waiting room while his mom was with clients. I was attracted to him and wanted to get to know him better. I noticed he had a couple of tattoos on his forearms. Since this was the first person I had ever met with tattoos, and I knew he was a Christian, I wondered about the tattoos and just started asking questions about them and him. I realized that everything I thought I knew about “those” people was wrong and that I had judged them horribly.

    Fast forward a couple of months and that tattooed man became my husband! He would actually tattoo people in our home and I grew to love many of them. This “bad, tattooed” man opened my eyes and my heart to many people that I would have run from at one time. He made me see that just because people put these pieces of art on their bodies it doesn’t mean anything at all. My husband was also able to reach out to people that “normal” people couldn’t or wouldn’t get close to. He was able to minister to teenagers, young people, and those that weren’t considered normal. They trusted him just because he kind of looked like them.

    My husband passed away about three years ago. When he died his body was covered with tattoos. He had a picture of Jesus on the back of his head. He had scriptures verses in several places. And I have three tattoos that he did for me. I never in my wildest dreams thought that would ever happen.

    1. Phyllis — Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story…brings tears to my eyes. Reading your first paragraph, I realize I don’t just associate tattoos with fear but with an actual sense of being threatened; will be praying about that for sure. I’ve also added concepts like “those” people, passing judgment, and the whole idea of “normal” to my list of issues to write my way through. I so appreciate your sharing your perspective!

  119. Leslie Daniel says:

    I cried when my daughter got her first tattoo, Now she is a tattoo artist!
    We were so proud of our daughter who graduated with a degree in biology and was a zoo keeper at a zoo close to us. We enjoyed taking friends and family and doing behind the scenes tours with our well educated daughter who was doing a job that everyone thought was amazing! I will never forget the day she called and said. “I think I want to do a tattoo apprenticeship” I couldn’t breath….
    She is now a very successful tattoo artist and yes… I have a tattoo! She told me later that she couldn’t believe how well I handled that conversation. I have a very different view of that culture now, I’m so proud of her work, she is an amazing artist! I am still growing in this area♥

    1. Leslie — Wow, what a story! From crying to her tattoo to getting one yourself! You touched on something that rings true for me: “our well-educated daughter who was doing a job that everyone thought was amazing!” Somewhere in this struggle is the desire for “everyone” to think…well…some things rather than others. Thank you for sharing your perspective, and now I REALLY can’t wait to meet you f-2-f in October! 🙂

  120. Hi there! I’m a 35 yr old mother of two with tattoos and pink hair. I also absolutely love Jesus as my savior and am very concerned with holiness. Sound like dichotomy to you? Haha! I think it’s just a matter of personal taste. As an artist, I enjoy beauty. My personal taste includes the things afore mentioned. My mom cried when she saw my tattoos, and I felt bad, as I did not want to offend her. However, I felt at the time that I was a grown woman (all of 23 at the time- ha!) and I felt the tattoos I chose were pretty. My mom’s version of pretty is different than mine. I don’t always like all of her choices in fashion, but I do praise the ones I do like because even though we have different taste, I love her and I want her to feel beautiful. All in all, I think tattoos don’t mean the same thing they do today like they may have in the past. They are more common and maybe like long hair on guys in the 60’s, it’ seems shocking for a different generation to grasp. The good Lord only knows what my daughter will come home with 15 years from now! Maybe I should start praying about it now!

    1. Michelle — So funny that you brought up “long hair on guys in the 60’s” because I’ve always had a thing for guys with long hair, especially my own husband when he was younger. Like you said, personal taste! My daughter is an artist, too, while I am entirely non-visual. I last 10 minutes in museums and feel like it was 9 minutes too long. So my version of “pretty” is definitely different than Annemarie’s! LOLing about your comment “The good Lord only knows what my daughter will come home with 15 years from now!” — Annemarie actually said something very similar when we were talking about tattoos a month ago. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your perspective!

  121. Our son got a few tattoos, after a season of stepping away from God’s best. I haven’t ever hated tattoos, but I don’t have any either (mostly because I don’t like needles!). I was incredibly lost before coming to Jesus, so I’d seen a lot growing up in southern CA, however that didn’t create much influence over what I thought our son should, or shouldn’t, do with his skin.

    His tattoos; first a single color back piece with his Massai name and a tree, and then a full chest piece that I don’t really get, but to him it’s significant to a song that helped turn his life around, when he decided to serve Jesus for real. My objections are not so much about him having tattoos, but the timing. He chose to make a significant purchase at a time in life he could barely put food on his fork. It was a selfish decision.

    Today, he will tell you the same thing. 🙂

    My Love Idol issue came because he was so highly viewed in the small town he was raised in, no one believed me when I’d ask for prayer for him. They thought he had hung the moon, I was just a crazy momma for not letting him sow wild oats… But we knew it was more serious than “just” that. It was scary. At times all I could do was speak the name of Jesus over my son’s life. It was spiritual warfare at its finest.

    I’m thankful now that we are on the other side of it all. God’s so good!
    You can find bits and pieces of those years on my blog, and a series on prodigal kids…

    1. Heya Marina — You bring up one of my biggest concerns: timing. That will actually be part of next Tuesday’s post. Appreciate you sharing your experience and perspective!

  122. Judy Park says:

    Hi Cheri,

    I appreciate your honesty in your blogs. I have a tattoo. First inked in 2007 but it took 2-3 years of contemplating before I got one. I got it before I met my husband (which is good b/c he, like you does not have the most positive view on tattoos and won’t let me get anymore =D)

    I used to have a negative view on it b/c my dad instilled it in me. I took a long 2-3 years of thinking and wondering, “Will this be sin?” “Will my dad disown me?” “What if I don’t like it?” I eventually came to terms with getting one because of the story behind my tattoo. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to decisions in life and I wanted to leave a reminder mark for myself of who I am and who I am not. I was listening to Beth Moore and she was speaking about idols in our lives. Who do we look to for our security and she based her passage on Isaiah 44:9-18 but verses 4-5 really spoke to me..more like who I wanted to be and who I really am. I was always chained to my ex boyfriends, educational failures, my father’s disappointments..but that day I realized I wanted to remind myself so I got “The LORD’S” with Isaiah 44:4-5 inked. It was originally suppose to be mirrored so that when I look in the mirror it would read “correctly” to me and me alone. I struggled even afterwards when I would hear people talk about tattoos and piercings but eventually I had to come to terms of why I got it and close the book on it. It wasn’t for show, or to bring attention to myself but it was a permanent(?) reminder for my heart and mind. I know not everybody has tattoos of scripture or of images that point to God so my comments may not be helpful but…

    I do have a link of a short podcast that might be helpful.


    I know some of the most inked folks who are passionate lovers of Christ. They’re still perceived at times as the rebellious ones and some have suggested perhaps getting them surgically removed but their testimonies of how their “past image” has opened doors for them to share their hope as a “new creation” in Christ…is amazing. It’s such a cool redeeming story that has no end for them..

    1. Heya Judy — Thanks so much for sharing your story of your tattoo, and the podcast, too! I value your perspective and have added your reason to my growing list of why people decide to get tattoos.

  123. Cheri, I love you for your bravery to speak out about your struggle over this! I love Annemarie’s bravery to allow you to do so and work through this at your own pace. She is a beautiful girl, probably even more so on the inside than she clearly is on the outside. I don’t have any negative issues with ink – I’ve considered it myself (but if we’re being honest, I was mostly considering it as a college student when I knew it would upset my parents). But I’ve even lately thought of getting “She laughs at the days to come” tattooed on my wrist, in Hebrew. Just one of those things of which I need a daily reminder. I’m settling in to enjoy this journey with you. I’ll be walking the same path one day, over who knows what the boys will do! xo

    1. Heya Adelle — Not sure it’s brave so much as desperate, but thank you for your support and company along the way! 🙂

  124. Cheri, that is a stunning picture of your daughter! None of my kids have gotten tattoos so I cannot give you any motherly advice 🙂 I am looking forward to reading your journey though. I have a student who is planning on getting a tattoo when she can, in memory of the three loved ones she has lost. She has had two different boys give her grief over her decision. One boy, a former boyfriend, wrote her a lengthy note with biblical scriptures to try to hinder her decision. That just made her angry.
    One of the things I’m interested in, is hearing about your conversations with Annemarie. You are both very brave to share this journey with us. Thank you!!!!!

    1. Heya Beth — Thanks for sharing the story about your student…I’m using it to start a list of reasons why people choose TO get tattoos. I’m so used them being unthinkable (to me), I’ve not thought about why people do get them, let alone asked. Interesting — and oh-so-typical — response to the “lengthy note with biblical scriptures.” I’ve not gone that route, nor will I. For me, this is a matter of personal preference/opinion. Thanks for coming along on this journey, wherever it takes us! 🙂

  125. As someone who’s never had problems with tattoos, and telling you FIRST that I have FOUR….I would just suggest nicely to ask yourself what that tattoos MEAN to you! Which negative aspects of them do you find so distasteful? and why? Tattoos, and the emotions and reasons attached to them are, in general, very personal. I applaud your willingness to delve deeper in yourself! My daughter seems to be heading in the opposite direction, by the way: doesn’t even want her ears pierced (I have four in each ear), and she cringes at tattoos because “they hurt!” 🙂 Maybe ask YOUR daughter what she likes about hers, and what they mean to her. Maybe THAT will change your attachment to them.

    1. Heya Mindy — Great questions and suggestions … they’re all on my list, now! I appreciate your support (and I’m LOLing at your daughter’s reactions to YOUR tattoos and piercings!)

    2. Our granddaughter felt that same way up until recently … think the new friends she has had a negative influence on her … she now has 3 tattoos … she’s 19 … will turn 20 in a few weeks … my heart sank when I found out … the future I had hoped for her I don’t think will happen … I don’t know who she is anymore … going against everything she used to hate and now embracing … Praying god will bring her back into a more wholesome life …

      1. Not sure how old this post is and appears you have received a momentous amount of advice and different opinions. Thought I would throw my 2 cents in. When I was 18 I came about as close to getting a tattoo as one possibly could. I was in the tattoo parlour with my best friend at the time and we had decided we were both going to get our first tattoo. We both had them picked out. I cant remember the one she had picked out but I had picked out a small “HD” with a set of Harley Davidson wings. I didn’t know any “bikers” had only ever been on a motorcycle once in my life yet to me that seemed like the “coolest” thing to get at the time. Fortunately the tat’s never happened. We didn’t realize that the wait would be 2 hours to get started and luckily I had to be at work in 2 1/2 hours. I think the Lord was looking out for me that day. Anyways I quickly lost the desire for tat’s after I grew up a bit and quit hanging out with my raunchy group of friends I had at the time. Trust me I have gone through more then my share of life tragedies and pain and besides that one weak moment I never had another desire to get inked whether it be for the sake of sheer rebeliousness, permanently memorializing one of lifes “great tragedies” or celebration of one of lifes “great accomplishments”. It eventually just occurred to me that it was just a very dumb and trashy/cheap looking and ugly thing to do to my beautiful skin. I wouldn’t dream of tattooing my heart, lungs, kidneys, liver or brain so why would I tattoo my largest organ-my skin?

        Anyways-thats my personal story. I myself had a beautiful baby girl who I made pinkie swear me at the ripe old age of 6 years old that she would NEVER, NEVER, EVER get a tattoo. The deal was she could get her ears pierced if she promised Mommy she would never get a tat. She agreed. We have re-visited this promise about 3 times over the years with me
        re-iterating that she swore to me at 6 that she would never do it and if she ever went back on those repeated promises I would be absolutely devastated. Which I absolutely would be if she ever decided to break that promise. Would I love her any less if she did? No absolutely not. Would I be EXTREMELY dissapointed in her and lose some respect for her? Absolutely I would. My daughter is now 18 1/2, has beautiful 18 year old skin and there has been no recent mention of tattoos and hopefully there never will be again.
        I guess the best advice I can give parent’s who hate tat’s is to start talking about it with your daughter’s or son’s for that matter at a very young age. I would say the younger the better. Get some promises made that they will never do it and talk about it with them again and renew those promises throughout the years. If we as parents are talking to our youngsters about smoking and drinking which harm ones inner organs then why arent we talking about tattoos which in my personal opinion-permanently harm our outer organ- the skin.

        As far as dealing with them after the deed is already done-the only leverage Ive ever seen that worked to prevent more from popping up is parent’s witholding financial help. I would guess that would likely only hold up until the daughter is fully financially sufficient.

        I feel for you and your situation.

        1. anonymous says:

          I have an opposite perspective to most here. My mother and I are getting tattoos together… and it was her idea! She wanted to honor a promise she made with her sister, who died almost twenty years ago. They always wanted to get a tattoo together but she passed away before they could, and so I have agreed to be a stand in.

          While I was at first ambivalent, I have found that I am delighted and honored to do this with my mother (who, I should say, has no other tattoos and is over 60). This is a very meaningful tribute to her sister for her, and for me it is an opportunity to decorate my body with beautiful artwork that honors a few of my childhood aspirations.

          Something else that I think is important to remember is that your daughters probably know that some people are prejudiced against tattoos. While I can’t speak for young teenagers getting inked (I’m in my late 20s), most adult women know that they may need to cover their tattoos in the workplace, that some short sighted individuals might assume that they are promiscuous or morally degenerate. They recognize these things for what they are: meaningless, cruel stereotypes, and are willing to carry on as the strong, morally upright, decent women that they are without letting the opinions of strangers affect their decisions.

          Women have been subject to the opinions of cruel, bigoted, petty strangers for centuries, if not millennia. It’s nothing new. Some of us simply choose to defy those stereotypes instead of bowing to them and keeping ourselves covered and “pure”. I will soon finish my doctorate, working in the medical profession (a “respectable” job). And I will also have a tattoo.

          1. I think it’s quite cruel to hold a woman to a promise she made when she was six.

      2. Kathy:
        “Our granddaughter felt that same way up until recently … think the new friends she has had a negative influence on her … she now has 3 tattoos … she’s 19 … will turn 20 in a few weeks … my heart sank when I found out … the future I had hoped for her I don’t think will happen … I don’t know who she is anymore … going against everything she used to hate and now embracing … Praying god will bring her back into a more wholesome life …”

        Well, it’s what women do now. It used to be very much a man thing (which is maybe what you are accustomed to). Now 55%-70% or more of parlor clients in North America are women. A lot of Christians have faith based tattoos proven effective in causing friends and acquaintances to talk about matters of faith. Whatever your personal preferences in this area, it ought really not to be a cause of surprise that your granddaughter who is has become an adult has had it done, because despite the past strong association of tattoos with men it’s what women do now.

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