In The Know – Something Permanent: Why the Tattoo Rage

“I so wish I had a tattoo.” Out of the blue, my son made this announcement as he relaxed on the couch, home from college for fall break last week. This is nothing new for Zach. When he was a junior in high school, I noticed a file on our computer one day, “Tat File”. I opened it up to find several pics of large hairy arms covered in colorful ink. Starting on that day, I knew it was just a matter of time. At first it an age issue; now it’s a financial one!

Why the fasination with tattoos? Why the obsessive need to have something permanent on their body? These are questions I have grabbled with. Surprisingly The Wall Street Journal gave me insight.

In the September 29th issue, Sue Shellenbarger interviewed several young adults as they made this unchangable decision. Katie Pilot age 18 said, “Tattoos are a way to celebrate something that has made you stronger.” She went with an airplane symbolizing her last name and two service trips to Africa.

For those of us who grew up in the ’80’s or before, tattoos tend to have a sigma attached to them. Not so with this generation. Many see them as merely decoration; an accessory even.

How about this? Totally Stylin’ Tattoo Barbie is one of Mattel’s hottest selling dolls. Is five or six years old too young to consider your message to the world? Obviously this is totally ridulous, but it does appear that tattoos are not going away. (I had so hoped they would before my child turned 18!)

So, if they are here to stay, what’s a parent to do? I think a great place to start is with a discussion and the best way to get our children talking is with questions. Why do you want one? In the Wall Street article, some young people stated it was because they wanted something permanent. In a time when so many things are disposable, including marriages and families, some young people want something that does not and cannot change.

Others are looking for a way express themselves; a means of being heard. Some express their faith, their passions or what they love and in their generation, this is an acceptable means.

Though it might not be what we want for them, after hearing their heart, hopefully we can share our’s in a loving way. We can encourage them to think it through. How will your tattoo look when you are Grandma’s age? Will you still want to say the same thing on your wedding day? Are you considering putting it in a place where a future employer can see it?

If they still seem bend on forging ahead, we can encourage them to seek out clean studios where the risk of infection is low. We can help them to consider how the patterns and words they choose will cause others to judge them.

Bottom line, tattoos are not an indicator of a person’s heart. Some of the people I love and respect the most have tattoos. (I walked in a studio several years ago, considering getting a tattoo to express my faith and just couldn’t bring myself to do it! I hate pain way too much!) As parents, no matter what they choose or where they choose to put it, we must not let their decision be a thing that brings a breach in our relationship.

PS The winner from Monday’s “Lady in Waiting” book give away is Rachel. Rachel, could you email me at [email protected] and give me your address? Congrats!



  1. I don't understand the fascination with tatoos. I too, know so many people that have them and I try not to judge them based on that. But….
    It's not an attractive form of art to me. {This is just MY opinion}
    I have 3 kids 20, 17 & 16 and they feel similar to me. It's not somehing that they find appealing.
    Maybe we're old fashioned.
    I can't help but notice that people judge you by the way you look. Tatoos are forever.

    I know that stuff from my past (say 20 years ago) has no place in my life today. I couldn't imagine dragging around a permanent reminder of a decision I made on my body for the world to see.
    Which seems to be the time most make decisions to get tatoos (when they're young and impressionable).
    I've known so many that have regretted it later. 🙁

  2. Although I personally could never get a tatoo on my body, I have nothing against them. Some people enjoy expressing themself in ink. And I agree, as long as they find a reputable/CLEAN studio and the "art" is tasteful, I see nothing wrong with it. Some are actually quite beautiful works of art! 😉

  3. Lynn,
    I am like you. In the older generation people with tatoos have been looked down on. I used to do this but now I am trying to be more focused on the person and their heart and not on the outer appearance.
    I think a lot of people are not really thinking about the future. I think it is about instant gratification. Most of the people who put them on their bodies are looking for something to feel an emptiness. If you ever notice when someone gets one put on-they are teliing and showing everyone about it. It isn't the worse thing our child could do.

  4. Anonymous says:

    OK, as for me, I do not think tattoos is something a Christian should be getting. I know and LOVE many, many people, even Christians who have them. My brother has one, my mother in law has one, and many people in my church have them. I do not think any less of them for having them but I do think this is a "gray" area in the church world today. I don't think our spiritual walk should be gray. I personally think it should either be black or it should be white. Leviticus 19:28 says, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD." I know this is Old Testiment but I also believe that if it wasn't something important to God or something He wanted us to know, He wouldn't have allowed it to be written. Thank you for letting me share!

  5. I see both sides …. I know many Christians who have gotten tattoos after salvation and one has a beautiful one on her ankle of Grace ….. I’ve thought about it but just don’t know about the pain! 😉 … I do not believe it is a salvation issue but can be a sanctification issue for some….

  6. When my daughter turned 16, she wanted a tattoo – We talked it over – the permanence, etc – She decided on the bible verse : ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” in a beautiful script on her foot. When she turned 17, she had “Redemption” tattooed on her forearm. She was soon hired to work in a mall clothing store that had a policy that tattoos needed to be concealed. To comply, she covered them with cloth skin colored bandaids. Her employer asked what she was covering & she explained. When mgt saw them, they told her she no longer needed to have them concealed.

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