How I Kept My Son from Getting a Tattoo

Yahoo Contributor Network

President Obama said on Wednesday that if his daughters dared to get tattoos, he and Michelle would get the same tattoos, in the same place - and "family tattoo," if you will - and show it off on Youtube. On the heels of that creative warning, Yahoo asked readers what strategies they've employed to keep their kids from getting inked. Here's one.

FIRST PERSON | My son is a very talented artist. He is 22 now, but his love of drawing started at an early age. He has friends and relatives who have tattoos, so by 12 he was asking for a Spider-man tattoo. I knew that finding a way to keep him from acting on that temptation over the next few years was extremely important.

I didn't feel comfortable relying on regular warnings to keep my son from getting a tattoo. I had seen too many other parents fail that way. I had never had a tattoo, and I didn't want my son to ever get one. I made a point of pointing out all the pitfalls that come with getting a tattoo. But I needed some stronger ways of making my point. Talking helped but I needed some visual impression that would last in his head.

We live in St. Louis, so it was easy for me to find help in getting the tattoo ideas out of my son's head. I called on an elderly neighbor who had tattoos from his younger days in the Navy. He teased me about my concerns but then promised to help.

A few days after our visit, my neighbor came down the alley to talk with my son. He started talking about other fun things he did as a young man and eventually got to talking about his tattoos. I was eavesdropping on them and overheard him talking about the beautiful woman he met and how he got a tattoo on his chest in her image.

I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing when he opened his shirt to display his lovely woman. To say that the woman didn't look quite right would be being very kind. She was sagging in all the wrong places. Her face looked completely deformed.

My neighbor explained that after some years, tattoos won't always look the way there were originally meant to look. My son's reaction was to swear that he would never get a tattoo. I knew that this was going to be the lasting impression I had looked for to keep him from making a lifetime mistake.

I counted on that lesson to last until I ran across a webpage that I knew would work as a good backup plan. Parents that are discussing tattoos with their children should use this page for visual encouragement. I found and shared the page with my son. There are several pictures of the worst tattoos and tattoo mistakes ever made. He has no plans to tattoo.

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