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Parents want to know how far to go to prevent teen's giant band tattoo.

Parents want to know how far to go to prevent teen's giant band tattoo.


'My kid wants a big tattoo. I don’t want my kid to have lifelong regrets.'


On her 16th birthday, my daughter declared themself non-binary. At 17, they said they wanted a big tattoo on their back and we told them, “Sorry, not legal in Illinois until you’re 18, and we don’t want you to make a decision you regret.”

Today they turn 18. They are finishing high school, and they get straight A’s and got into every college they applied to. They are incredibly socially awkward, all their friends have dropped away, and we did a neuropsychological evaluation at their behest, and on the recommendation of their therapist.

They were disappointed to see they weren’t autistic, thinking that would explain everything, and claimed they were masking on the test, providing answers they thought the doctor wanted to hear.

Yes, they are an adult as of today, but are not street savvy in any sense and have always been very young for their age in comparison to their peers.

The dream remains: a big MCR – My Chemical Romance – spider tattoo on their back. I said, as a joke, why do you want to put a tattoo in the one spot that you’re the only person in the world that can’t see it?

They’ve been pretty obsessed with this band for 2+ years, absorbing all the lore and myth making. I’ve listened to all the music, watched the entirety of The Umbrella Academy series, seen some of the graphic novels. Their creative output is impressive, but also strikes me as music and pop culture artifacts that one would ultimately grow out of, and be happy they did.

My wife and I are not opposed to tattoos, and between us have four small tattoos in out-of-the-way places, marking significant milestones in our lives, but we also got them only starting at about 30.

This is not about wanting to form children in our own image. We have older kids, and we saw that ship sail over the horizon long ago. Yes, in part, I hate to see my kid permanently altar or mar their faultless body for an adolescent pop culture marker.

But mostly I want to do what I can to prevent them from making a massive, irreversible decision that they will someday regret. Alternately, they may also permanently adopt a juvenile stance, to justify this adolescent choice.

I’ve been thinking how people have to do that ever since I saw a guy in New Zealand with “DIE YUPPIE SCUM“ in the biggest possible Gothic script going across his forehead: he limited his life opportunities massively that day, safe to say.

So, how do I either prevent my youngest from making a massively regrettable choice, or how do I somehow make peace with it? Thank you for reading.

Here's how commenters interpreted the situation — and yes, they were generally quite unopposed to the big back tattoo.


I get where you’re coming from. However, I would make peace with it bc they are 18yo. And if they ever decide it was a mistake….well at least it’s easy to cover with a shirt.


That’s the other weird thing – they want this tattoo that they will never be able to see, and that maybe only one other person on the planet would see, IF they can get over their phobias about bodies and skin and sexual contact.

We live in a beach town and they’ve only been to the beach in the last three years when we go to do a sauna plunge, and even then only wear rash guard/T-shirts.


I think this is the kind of thing that fixes itself if you have them review artists, really understand the signs of a poor quality artist and get picky about what they want for their own tattoo, and then review the likely cost of a tattoo that large based on the number of hours with a quality artist.

I love tattoos but I've been holding off for over a year because I just can't find a artist I'm happy with nearby.


Great advice, thanks. Yes, I should go find the crappiest, cheapest tattoo artist I can, and then also the best and most expensive. This is why I posted! Thank you.


I think it’s possible that they regret this tattoo but there’s a bunch of adults who have Harry Potter and Disney tattoos that they don’t regret - a large spider seems less tied to a brand. If it’s on their back, it’s not like a job interviewer will see it and it’s a far cry from having “die yuppie scum” on your forehead.

There’s actually plenty of people who have tattoos on more noticeable places - their hands, ankles, etc. and still find work and are respected members of society. The world has really changed in that respect.

Any reputable tattoo artist will know it’s your child’s first tattoo and try to talk them down in terms of size but a spider tattoo on a back isn’t a terrible choice for a tattoo.


Agreed, it definitely could be worse. And they have also talked about doing their own tattoos. They told me about this while they were trying to make coffee with the coffee maker in the hotel room.

They completely botched the process, wasted the coffee, and made a mess, while telling me the tattoo would look fine and that they know what they’re doing, have never seen the inside of a tattoo parlor or any of the tools.

Astounding to me sometimes that this kid also gets straight A’s. This is an amazing kid in so many ways, but baffling in other ways.


I got a tattoo when I was 16. By the time I was 17 I had changed enough as a person that it didn’t fit me at all. I ended up getting lasered off in my thirties. For years before it was a source of embarrassment.

I tell my kids that story all the time, how painful removal was and encourage them to wait until their mid twenties, when their brain has stopped growing, to do any permanent body modification. We’ll see how that goes. They’re eleven years old.


Thanks for that! That’s exactly what I worry about. Screenshotting that to keep in my back pocket!


Make them pay for it. Kept me from getting a lot of tattoos at a young age. Now that I’m mid 40’s with disposable income I’ve been getting inked up.


Indeed. Somebody else commented on the satisfaction they got from getting tattoos that they saved up for. I’ll pay for bicycles for transportation, food under many but not all circumstances, etc., but not a tattoo that they might regret. I suppose if I did, I would potentially share the blame.


Maybe you could encourage them to get a removable version of it first. I think you can get temporary tattoos custom made, and I think they last for a week or two. I don't know how much it costs, but then they could see it and decide if they really want it.

If they decide to still get it though, you'll need to step out of the way and let it happen. And then, if the time comes that they regret it, you'll have to resist the urge super hard to say any form of "I told you so."


ZACTLY. I have so far been the world champ of refraining from saying, “I told you so,“ and letting the kids experience the consequences of their actions with private shame and not public.

I also wondered about a temporary tattoo, but again, the weird thing is nobody will ever see it. So the I wondered if I could pay a tattoo artist on the side to do the whole tattoo without ink – all the pain, none of the permanent scarring. Then maybe cover it with a temporary tattoo. I go off on tangents like this while my wife risks eye-rolling injuries.


You don't prevent it. You give your best advice and then help them process the consequences of their own decisions.

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