1. Thank you for this. I REALLY NEED these posts! Can’t write too much more because I have so much to process.

  2. afraidofjudgment says:

    Hi Cheri, this is a very interesting blog. I came across it, I guess from the opposite end of things; I am not a parent coping with my daughter’s body art, but rather a daughter still trying to figure out how to tell her mother and family. I live hundreds of miles away from my mom and have since I have been getting tattoo’ed. I’m 26, with a full sleeve and a couple of smaller ones, and to my knowledge my family has no idea. I only visit in cooler months when I can wear long sleeves, and I’m careful to block photos baring these tattoos from family on Facebook. I would like to get another sleeve, but my husband says I have to tell my family first, and so I was googling ideas on how to tell them and how they will take it. Reading your block was refreshing because I imagine my mother will feel similar ways. The reason I have not told her yet is because when I tell her things she often doesn’t respond. She will say nothing, or not have a reaction, and it comes off as very judgmental. Just as you said, it is clear that by not saying something she is avoiding saying the wrong thing. However, nothing is worse. I have a hard time with judgement from loved ones, and I know my conservative mother will be hurt when I tell her. However, I know keeping this from her even longer, and longer will hurt her more, and will also hurt our relationship. I’m still not sure what my course of action will be, and any advice from you or Annmarie is much appreciated.

  3. Cheri, you wrote this comment;
    •Is it because they represent, in black and white and red and green and orange and purple, all my parenting failures, permanently etched for the world to see?

    Yes, yes, yes, ding, ding, ding! That is why my daughter’s tattoo makes me so very sad. She got it during a period of time she was drinking, taking narcotics and stealing from her family and employer. She hid the tattoo from me for two years and I discovered this “art” that encompasses her entire back two days ago only by chance.
    She only recently graduated from drug court and I had hopes that the past would be the past. It represents a horrible time for her and our family. It does not and will never represent anything beautiful. If I am judgmental then OK. At this point I cant be any other way.

  4. Pingback: What My Daughter's Tattoos are Teaching Me About Braver Living - Cheri Gregory
  5. Cheri, Ce Ce, Ingrid, Angela… you are my teachers! I don’t know what’s coming, but certainly something is. We’ve coasted through the teen years so far with little conflict. But it’s not over ’til it’s over! Angela… it sounds like your son had a serious concussion? I’m sorry for that. It’s something I worry about every time my son is in the batter’s box facing a fast-ball pitcher.

  6. i always thought i was just awkward in certain situations. i still am just plain awkward, but in a different way. i had that stupid ‘good girl’ syndrome, do the right thing. doing the right thing has brought me a lot of misery. as far as tattoos, i totally get the double standard. i meet strangers or know people with tattoos and i admire the artistry. this makes me able to say something positive without lying. now, if one of my kids gets tattooed i have a feeling i won’t be reacting the same way. i’ll have to shift to ‘your hair looks great today’. unless it’s purple, then maybe ‘i like that shirt’. ugh. keep writing cheri, i’m learning.

  7. I love what Nancy said as well. And sometimes there is nothing that needs to be said. I can say that my daughter understands my position on 99% of all issues quite clearly (“Mom, do you have an opinion about everything?”), Would it really benefit anyone if I say it again? Maybe just say “I love you”. Now that’s worth repeating!

  8. I love Nancy’s comments – not knowing how to talk about a hard issue doesn’t necessarily mean one is in the wrong. And, tattoos did mean something different back in our day…

    All that said… nothing like having your own child make you face your prejudices square in the face. I’ve been following this topic with much interest. My son will be 18 soon. Now, you must understand – I homeschooled until he was in the 8th grade, we read millions of books together, did tons of things together, even taught a kindergarten church class together. He truly is sweet, kind and helpful – he doesn’t do drugs, is very respectful to me, makes me laugh, and gets good grades in school now that we are treating his narcolepsy. He will give money to people, stay up to help them, etc. He used to be in the Civil Air Patrol, and was the epitome of the little military cadet. And now – my sweet son LOVES LOVES LOVES heavy metal, death metal music with lyrics that make me cringe, music full of screaming, pig squeals, etc. I used to automatically think/judge that anyone listening to that kind of music was a selfish druggie, drunk, etc and obviously had parents that weren’t involved, whatever. Everything I looked down on as far as music – he loves. I have learned that his music is actually more complicated, etc. than I ever realized, and there are bands that donate money, and even metal bands that refuse to do drugs, etc.

    This process has been so very hard for me…. I see my son wear some horrid T-shirts, and yet smile and be the best kid ever. He has wanted a tattoo for a long time, and will get one on his back as soon as he turns 18 (a verse to a song), and even wants to get snake bites (those things in the lower lip). The very idea makes me cringe…. he will look like someone that would rob you or worse, and yet I know that he has a heart of gold inside. I have maintained a close relationship with him, but I have been forced to face my prejudices head-on to do so. He knows I will never love his music, but I have learned about it and respect the talent and knowledge that some of those bands possess – and he appreciates that I am willing to learn. Admittedly – ONLY because it is my son have I been able to do this. I still struggle with anger about the concussion from 4 years ago – because he changed after it. People tell me he might have chosen this music anyhow, and maybe… but I don’t know. A concussion that gives one narcolepsy was not a small deal.

    Your daughter keeping the tattoo hidden…. my son plans to keep his hidden (once he gets it) from his father for awhile. He knows how my husband would react. I struggle with this – keeping the tattoo hidden will keep things much calmer, at least until DS graduates from high school next summer. But, it is sad that he feels the need to do so. No easy answers here, that is for sure.

    Well, I won’t keep rambling. I’ve thought of you many times!

  9. You’re so hard on yourself, Cheri! Does not liking tattoos necessarily equate to prejudice? Does not knowing how to talk about a hard issue mean you’re in the wrong? Are you really judging your daughter or just struggling to come to grips with a new reality? What you’re learning and conveying to us is great stuff; I’m storing it away for some time in the (near) future when my son might shock me with some decision or other. But I think you can give yourself some slack here. Tattoos meant something different in our day and age (the dark ages!) and it’s not so easy to change this way of thinking. But are you harming anyone if it takes awhile? Maybe we don’t even need to change our way of thinking. If tattoos are a style choice, we can certainly agree to disagree. And as I read about your weekend at the hotel, I was thinking, Why didn’t your daughter bring up the subject? Surely, she knew it would be an issue between the two of you. I’m not blaming, just pointing out that there are two of you in this tango! Maybe we’ll hear her side of the story?

  10. i love this. and i love you being brave enough to finally say something to your daughter about her tattoos, and proud of your daughter to be brave enough to speak of her feeling rejected. God uses all of this for His good in our lives. thanks for sharing your private imperfect mommy moments.

  11. I love this series.
    Interestingly, this totally gave me something to contemplate with my marriage. My husband is a withdrawer. He chooses to say nothing frequently. And then I start to feel guilty because he’s doing “nothing” and I’m so angry. This makes me realize that his doing nothing IS doing something. And I need to let go of feeling like I”m wrong for being upset and continue to speak up.

  12. I remember the first time I was affected by prejudice as a teenager. I was so shocked and hurt. I am also dismayed when I sense it in myself, as I recoil inside because of someone’s looks or actions. Many times I have had to go to the Lord in repentance and prayer. Tattoo’s have never offended me. Although, I confess I often think there will be regret one day when I see someone with many tattoos or tattoos on places likely to wrinkle and sag.
    In addition to the prejudice issue though, I have so struggled with the common message of the day, “Make sure you don’t say the wrong thing.” So, many times, I have remained silent, when it would have been better to say something, even the wrong thing, than to say or do nothing at all.
    Thank you for sharing your journey. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  13. I grew up with some of the same points of view. My auntie and my mom sat talking for hours when we were together each summer about how wonderful their children were and how many scholarships or this or that they had and did you hear about this niece and nephew’s new accomplishment? Such high and lofty living but they did not talk about Roger’s divorce. We would never do that in our family, but it did! As long as we didn’t talk about it. Of course, we heard about other’s mistakes that our family would never do!
    Yikes, I think I did all the wrong things and certainly did not measure up to all of my cousins’ and siblings achievements. And then what do you do when this one (me) lives at a mental institution for 3 months? Boy, would I love to have listened in on that conversation or did it occur?
    Yes, prejudice lived in my Christian upbringing right after we had gone to hear whoever was speaking at Mount Hermon and walked back to the house.

  14. This post really makes me think. Which is awesome. Very thought provoking. I think I’ll come back and read it again after I’ve thought about it for awhile.

  15. Really touching post… especially where your daughter makes the point of being aware that her mother wouldn’t look at her. I realized that I don’t look at a lot of things, or a lot of people because I don’t know what to say or do. I always thought that was the polite way to handle it. And now I wonder if those moments felt just as bad to the other person. It’s something definitely to think about.

    1. Danica — I totally identify with “the polite thing to do”. I also thought I was “being non-intrusive” and “giving them their space.” I’m not convinced that nothing is ALWAYS the wrong choice I’m sure it sometimes, even often, is the exact right choice. I am just becoming aware of how often my choice to do/say nothing has been based 100% on my needs, my wants, and my comfort zone.

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