So Your Teen Wants a Tattoo. Here Are 4 Things to Do Before You Freak Out.

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Tattoos are so common these days that it’s not unusual to see your co-worker, your bus driver or your local barista sporting ink. However, just because they are more socially acceptable doesn’t mean you’re eager to let your teen get tatted up too. Teenagers aren’t exactly famous for making well-informed decisions. Sure, they might be obsessed with their favorite band right now, but that doesn’t mean they’ll still want to be branded with their logo at the age of 40.

Luckily, in most states, anyone under 18 needs a parent’s permission to get a tattoo, but before you put your foot down, here are a few things you might want to consider discussing with your tat-obsessed teen.

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Why Do They Want It?

Teenagers are at a difficult stage where they are desperately trying to figure themselves out in a world of outside influences, both good and bad. Finding out why your teen wants to get a tattoo is a good place to start.

Is it an act of self-expression or one of rebellion? Is it because they’ve chosen a design that means something to them or is it just an attempt to catch the eye of their latest crush? Discussing the reasons behind their want might reveal something deeper about what your child is going through. Once you alleviate whatever fears or insecurities might be plaguing them, a tattoo might not seem like the best option to them anymore.

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Discuss the Consequences

Tattoos may be run-of-the-mill these days, but that doesn’t mean having them will improve your chances in the job market. Be sure to ask your teen about the kind of first impression they want to give on dates or job interviews. Could a tattoo ever stand between them and their dream career? Can they cover it up if necessary? Will it still look good when their skin has sagged and stretched with age? Remind them that while tattoos can be removed, it’s a long, painful and expensive procedure – and one that you won’t be paying for.

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Have Them Reflect On It

A good rule of thumb for anyone who is considering a tattoo is to choose a design and sit on it for at least two years before moving forward with it. This rule should especially be applied to teenagers because they are still forging their identities and figuring out their style. A lot can change in two years, including their feelings on that awful butterfly design.

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Consider the Alternatives

Flat out saying no to your child is your prerogative, but consider the fact that some teens skirt the issue of consent by going to an illegal tattoo artist or even one of their friends. Homemade tattoos (Yup, prison tats. Yikes!) are a growing trend among teenagers and are unsafe, unregulated and can get easily infected or spread diseases like hepatitis. Compared to that, a tattoo done by a professional in a safe, clean environment might not seem so bad after all.