Is this the year your son/daughter will want to get a tattoo? How about a body piercing? What are you going to do about it? What will you say?
I'm not promoting tattoos or body piercing for "children". However, I think we as parents need to understand something about teenagers: They are truly "tribal" and have a huge need to belong to a group they perceive are their peers.
Now, that doesn't mean they are aboriginal or primitive. Instead, it suggests that in their need to belong they need to have identifiable cues that signify their membership. It's not a "gang" mentality...you see plain ol' teenagers wear the same styles of clothing depending upon which clique they belong to ("goth", preppie, etc). And, you'll hear them use specific language that identifies their group membership. And, they use hair styles and make-up to differentiate them from "other" groups.
In their immaturity, they believe they are making a statement about who they are as "individuals". In truth they are loudly proclaiming which stereotypical group they identify with. The desire to get a tattoo or a body piercing may be one way they think they will belong to a "cool" group and to avoid the appearance of not belonging.
According to some studies, approximately 10% of high school and college students have tattoos and between 25-35% of students have body piercing. If you take the position of NO tattoos or body piercing until they are out of high school, you may find yourself engaged in a power struggle that you could lose. Sometimes our kids will choose to act foolishly BECAUSE we have forbidden them to. And, your child could defy you and get tattooed or pierced without your approval just for spite.
Talk about it--Talk about it--Talk about it! If you can, find out why your teen wants a tattoo or piercing. Ask what it will mean about him/her that he/she has a tattoo or piercing. What is the graphic that your teen wants and where?...Why? What body part is where he/she wants a piercing?--what will he she be wearing in the piercing?
By asking questions in a non-threatening manner, you may get more information about the purpose of the tattoo or piercing. And, then you may be able to compromise if necessary.
What compromise? you might ask. When you become a partner instead of an adversary, you are in a position to counsel rather than demand. And, then your teen may be able to hear you and your concerns.
If your teen wants to be like his/her friends, consenting to a well-placed tasteful tattoo/piercing could be an option to use to encourage compliance and fore-stall contrary "I'll-show-you" reactionary behavior. Perhaps an agreement to get just one before he/she is 18 will prevent an unsafe procedure, an inappropriate tattoo or piercing, or an poorly planned permanent "bumper sticker" .