I have two tattoos, one on my forearm that is very visible and one on my leg that is not nearly as visible unless I’m in shorts. I love them both and I don’t regret getting either of them, in fact, I plan on getting several more. I find people with tattoos very interesting and tend to find tattooed women very attractive. there is something about someone who feel such passion for someone, some thing, or some idea that they are willing to commit a piece of their body canvas permanently to it that I find incredible. These are the people who are capable of living in a way that I want to and I hope to surround myself with them.
That being said, I have found that I am a rarity because my family has never had a negative thing to say about my tattoos. They are incredibly conservative and deeply religious but have never viewed me with anything but love. I have had several friends recently tell me that their family would disown them or shun them or react negatively to them if they get tattoos, a concept I just don’t understand.
In my limited experience this reaction to tattoos tends to come from religious people, the same group who claims unconditional love. To me, if you react negatively to your child getting tattoos (or really any life choice) it boils down to one of two things. The first, that you think that decision will harm them in the short or long term. This is a justified concern and should not result in shunning or lack of love. It should instead encourage you to hold a rational conversation with your child about why you have those concerns. When I started to plan my first tattoo a dear friend of mine talked with me about it and she expressed her concern that this would harm my future potential employment. That turned out to be an unnecessary concern but she treated me like an adult friend and we talked it out.
The second potential reason is much more harmful. It is that someone doesn’t actually love the individual, but instead loves the person they want them or expect them to be. When you have a vision for how a person will turn out and they take a different road it can cause serious stress which leads to an adverse reaction towards that person. The shunning, disowning, or just anger towards someone who gets a tattoo comes out of your disconnect between how you view a person and who they really are. If you continue to love the idea of someone or their potential instead of the amazing, beautiful, happy, passionate person they become that will only cause further strife and a fractured relationship.
Love should be based on the person, not ideals or “potential”. Each of us should be free to make our own decisions and life choices, and for a parent to react negatively to a child who acts in a way that harms nobody isn’t unconditional love, it is love very much conditioned on conforming to the parents utopian ideal and this ideal is both dangerous to pursue and impossible to reach. To condition your love on someone conforming what you want is to blackmail them into giving up their liberty, individuality, and creativity, which are three things all parents should encourage.