Help! My Teenager Wants a Tattoo

Teens & Tattoos

Thanks to social media and the proliferation of photos we’re bombarded with the everyday fact that over 80% of the adult population under 30 is tattooed is a big thing. Most of these are ordinary people, but they’re also idols for some of the most vulnerable kids – teenagers. The trouble with teens and tattooing is that their brains work differently and they think they know best from everyone else. They don’t understand that as a parent you mean well when you say no. Getting a tattoo is a big decision, and it’s understandable that you’re concerned.


The first thing to take into account is to ask why your teen wants the tattoo. Their reason may make more sense than you realize. While peer pressure, their friends getting tattooed, or celebrity tattoos often factor in, if they really want that cross to remember grandma then it’s likely not a fad decision.

To be or Not to be?

Tattoos are permanent, something you’re well aware of. That means that a teenage decision can continue to haunt you for the rest of your life. If your teen wants something faddish or that they’re likely to regret you’re right to say no. You might have an ally – the tattoo artist. Good tattoo artists are ethical people, they know what tattoos are likely to be regretted and will be able to explain that to your teen. If your teen has, however, put a lot of thought and research into their idea then you may have to give them the fact that they really want to do this.

The Risk

If you don’t give in, your teen may decide to go it alone. Reputable studios will not tattoo underage. Many states don’t allow minors to get tattooed which means that a studio which is willing to do that is breaking the law, and you have to wonder what other laws (like sterilization) they’re also breaking. If a studio is willing and able to tattoo underage they usually ask for a parent or guardian to be present and require proof of that status. If your teen is determined to get tattooed with or without you it may be safer to take them somewhere you know is clean and reputable for their own good rather than risk them going it alone elsewhere.

The Experience

It’s totally acceptable to make them wait. Consider striking a deal with your teen – they may get the tattoo, if they pay for it, and if they’re willing to wait an arbitrary amount of time. In theory, this gives you enough time for whatever the fad is to be over but it also gives them time to demonstrate how serious they are by still wanting it X amount of time later and paying for it themselves. If you strike a deal like this it’s important not to go back on it, unless they have committed a grave mistake/action/screw up this is an “adult” agreement and they have to prove they’re adult enough to make it and you’re adult enough to stick to it.

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