The Tattoo Truth: An Open Letter To Parents About Their Kids

Dear Parent,

If your reading this, it is because in some fashion your child has become aware of (or is already addorned with) tattoos. Or, if you are like me, you are considering the future of your children and the “threat” of tattoos. Well let me start with this: 

If you are nervous, and think you have to have some kind of “talk” with your kid about tats…then you are most definitely sound of mind and should totally do it. However, there are a few things you need to remember when you have this talk, although you may not agree or like them. The world of tattoo’s and tattooed people has shifted over a long period of time, yet you may have the same ideas about them. This goes for parents both open to and against.

Those of you who are open too it just as well as those who are not, may still be a little naiive as to how to teach your kid about them. Here are some pointers:

1.) Don’t tell them to “remember it lasts forever”. Of course it lasts forever, and if you open with that statement like most parents do, your kids brain will check out of the conversation early. They know it lasts forever, thats the point of a tattoo. What you need to teach them is “the tattoo will last forever, but how you feel about that tattoo will not”. Having a tat is a relationship between you and the ink itself, and one day that relationship may get sour, so really consider that when choosing.

2.) Don’t tell them it’s a “stupid idea”, just tell them to really think deeply about it. Having a permanent symbol of something you deeply feel a connection with on your body is not stupid. It’s one of the most important forms of expression there are, and it must be taken seriously. Explain to them how, while they may not feel a personal connection between their physical and spiritual self, a tattoo will change that. Now that you have something from within expressed outward for everyone to see and it’s imprinted in your flesh, you really begin to understand the connection.

3.) Get to know your artist. Don’t just walk into a tat shop and say “I want to pay you money to do this work so do it.” This person, professional or otherwise, is about to put your symbol of expression on your body for life. MAKE SURE THEY ARE GOING TO DO IT THE WAY YOU WANT IT. Get to know the individuals art, what they are capable of, and what inspires them. Most artists will have a portfolio of their work out front for you to flip through. GO THROUGH IT. There used to be, and still is for some people, an emotional bond their as well.

A tattoo is a blend of your internal emotions coming out mixed with their artwork and dedication. This is should come with a level of mutual respect right down to the core. Don’t make them fill out a profile or anything, just get to know the artist well enough for you to be comfortable with that person.

A tattoo created from negativity will not be a good one.

4.) It may be the most painful thing you ever experience in your life, and it will last for hours or even days. Get to know your body as much as possible. Study the human anatomy, because it all makes a difference not only in how much pain you will recieve, but also in how much it will cost. Different artists charge different prices depending on the area.

When considering tattoo location, consider the following about that area:

How close is the skin to the bone? How tightly gathered are your nerve endings in that area? Have you been hurt their before and how did you respond to it? What is your “pain tollerence” in that area? Is that area mostly fat or mostly muscle?

Your anatomy will dictate how long the process will take. Less pain tollerence means it will take more time, or the tat will come out sloppy. Also keep in mind the size of the tattoo. Most people tend to think a tattoo, no matter what the size, can be done in a day. Remember that your artist has a tolerence too, and inking a person takes a toll on them physically as well.

5.) Don’t get branded. Choosing the logo of a brand may seem like a great idea especially cause you “Love” Pepsi or something like that, but lets get real. What do you get out of it being tattooed to your body? If you love something enough to get the logo tattooed to you, that means it’s around you constantly. Let be around you, instead of on you. Enjoy such things from a distance. If you truely want it on your skin, fine. Just be aware of the consequences later.

6.) Teach them how to take care of it. After-care is the most important thing to know when getting a tattoo. Treat it like an open wound, moisturize, the whole 9 yards. Just cause it may look awesome now, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way on its own! Take care of it, and it will keep looking sharp.

7.) LISTEN TO YOUR ARTIST. If your artist says that the design will not translate well to a tatoo BELIEVE IT. They know better than you do how the image will turn out on your skin. Skin is a very particular texture, and carving ink into it is tricky business that takes skill. If the artist doesn’t think it will translate well, BELIEVE IT. I can’t stress this enough. If you go through with it anyway, don’t blame the artist for the shitty outcome.

That’s all for now, “Part 2” coming soon!

Thoughts? Want to add? Dissagree?  Leave it in the comments, or email me at!


-B.K. Mullen


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