I have had a few parents ask me my opinion on whether or not their child should get a tattoo. Of course I suggest seeking God’s desire, but I too know the value in gathering intel from other God seeking people when decision making – as God uses that to communicate with us too!
“Mom and Dad, I want a tattoo” drifted out of the soft spoken lips of our then eighteen year old daughter who was a Senior in High School.
Our first reaction was not to react because that is a pivotal parenting secret when dealing with the wonderings and wanderings of teenagers. They are in a place in their life where they are considering, exploring and formulating the way they are choosing to live life as they move forward.
A teen’s desire to discuss what’s swirling through their heads with their parents is a HUGE blessing and one way to keep them coming back for more discussion – is not to react…or shall I say – DO NOT FREAK THE HECK OUT when they ask you something that makes you want to freak the heck out. Even if you have to bluff your way through it…don’t react!
Deep, deep breaths, concentrated in and out breathing are much more important now than they were when you were birthing that baby, or being handed that bundle for the first time. Much more is at stake in the life of a teen.
OK, back to the tattoo.
We asked her why she wanted a tattoo and she said because she wanted a constant reminder of who she was, whose she was and a conversation starter to share her faith with others in a non-threatening way.
That sounded good. But we went a little deeper.
Why do you need a tattoo to do that? Are you sure this is not a pride issue or a go along with the crowd issue? We had some good discussion around that and she sought to determine if that was indeed part of the lure.
Then my husband did an amazing thing and to this day I honestly think that was the lesson of this discussion. He told her we would think about it and pray about it and get back to her. He then asked her if she agreed that she was still under his authority and regardless of what he told her our answer was, did she agree that she was still under his authority and would she abide by our decision.
She pointed out that she was 18 and she could do whatever she wanted. He pointed out that her scholarships for college did not cover all of her tuition and she still basically “lived” under our roof and until she was on her own she was still under his authority. She agreed to the truth of that statement.
We have done the “letting go while still teaching” dance since she hit the teen years. We have worked hard (though not always gotten it right) to “let go” and allow her to make more decisions for herself, while guiding her through the outcomes. The trial and error process has helped her to gain wisdom while she is still under our authority.
In this instance we all agreed that something as big as a tattoo on her body that cannot be removed and could be regretted was something she would remain under our authority over. We ultimately told her that we didn’t think a tattoo was wise and she agreed to remain under our authority and trust our judgment.
The acceptance of that fact was an indication that she was learning well how to submit to authority – a true blessing. Unpopular to far too many, but the truth of scripture. Submission is an important lesson we ALL need to learn. The desire for self constantly battles authority.
Unbeknownst to her, her father and I continued to discuss and seek God on the issue. The week before she left for college her father told her she could get the tattoo and that very day she went to a reputable tattoo parlor she had researched and got her tattoo – with me in tow, and I waited quietly up front as a show of support.
Her tattoo is located on her right wrist and it is the Hebrew word “remember” because she wants to remember who she is, whose she is and when someone asks what the tattoo is she tells them just that. She wants that daily reminder to remember what God has done in her life and to seek Him above all else.
There you have it, our experience with “to tattoo or not to tattoo” – the issue we felt it brought to light for our daughter and how God used it in her life and ours. I hope in some way our experience will be helpful for you.