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Tell me about a loved one who hated your tattoos but came around

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Can anyone tell me a story about a parent, family member, or someone else you care about who had seriously negative reactions to your tattoos, but eventually came around? What did it take? Did you ever sit down and have a talk with the person? Explain more about tattooing or about why you're getting them? Did you just wait for them to relax on their own?

Or maybe they never came around? Is it still a stress on your relationship with that person?

Just thinking about my relationship with my mom as I consider moving into the world of much more visible tattoos than what I currently have... I know she "should" love me no matter what I decide to do with my own body, but her reactions have been so strong and so negative so far that I'm kind of worried.

Thanks for indulging me, haha.

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My mom's reactions to my tattoos have gotten worse as I've gotten more. She was never crazy about me getting tattooed to begin with but when it was one or two she could pass it off as, I don't know, a passing phase or a temporary moment of bad judgement or something like that. I didn't stop at one or two though. My parents were staying with me and my wife during the most recent Montreal tattoo convention and they'd spent a few days in NYC and got back a couple of hours earlier than expected...just as I'd finished washing a new tattoo on my shin. And yeah it was a day old and still really fresh and my leg was all kinds of swollen and she saw that and nearly burst into tears and tried to make me say that that would be the last one and all that, which I wouldn't do. And at this point I don't even know what difference it would make if I stopped now because unless I tattoo my hands, neck, or face--which I don't plan on doing--I can't really get them in any more visible spots than I already have. My dad isn't crazy about the tattoos either, but he's kept quiet about it and has said that it isn't his body and so it isn't his decision.

For better or for worse, I've been fairly open with my parents about my tattoos. I told them that I was getting my forearms done before I did them because I didn't want them to be surprised by it. I called my parents after I got my first one, again because I didn't want to surprise them.

I should add that I wouldn't say that this has put stress on our relationship. My parents still love me no matter what, they know that I more or less have my shit together, and probably most importantly, that I'm an adult and I can make my own decisions even if they wouldn't make those decisions themselves (I think it was my cousin who said once that you raise your kids to be independent but then you get hurt when you realise that they actually are), but the tattoos still do really bother and upset my mom.

This stuff is hard. Good luck.

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Thanks, @Graeme -- that's a great but also terrible answer, you know, ha.

Sorry it's tough with your mom, too. I don't want to intentionally upset mine, but I also want to do things I want to do (like get a couple more tattoos). Do you try to keep yours covered when you spend time with your parents? I'm kind of trying to figure out where the line is between respecting your parents and living your own life, etc.

Thanks again for your thoughtful answer!

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This is a great topic since I've been wondering the same about what others go through.

I'm visiting home soon, and got a lot more covered on me this year. I didn't mention anything to them, since I came to the conclusion that it's completely unnecessary.

I really don't appreciate that feeling of them having a 'hold' on me, or at least that's what italian parents make you feel like is happening.

Surprisingly my mom thinks their beautiful, but yea she also wants to hear an extravagant story as to why I got a certain piece.

Then somehow twists it into a negative spew once more... Conversations turn so awkward with their silent disapproval.

So the only thing I can do at this point, is train my brain to not give a shit. I would say I'm 80% there..

And to just keep my own thoughts positive, and use my great attitude to keep the negativity away.

Cause the last thing I need is for them *try* and make me feel guilty about these decisions.

But yes it's very hard and not looking forward to it........

*sigh*

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Yea I personally cover them as much as possible. It's respectful around family gatherings.

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I don't make any special efforts to keep them covered around my parents, no. My parents live on the other side of the country from me and I see them once, sometimes twice, a year, so it's not a huge issue.

My in-laws, on the other hand, don't know that me or my wife have tattoos, and they will not react nicely when they find out that we do, and so we both keep them hidden from them at all times. We live in the same city as them and see them often enough so the situation is getting pretty absurd. For example, this summer we were walking back from the store after grocery shopping and my wife spotted my mother-in-law standing at the corner of our street from a half a block away. She'd stopped by to drop off some vegetables from her garden and was waiting around to see if we would show up. I was wearing a short sleeved shirt. So we turned around, went down another street, waited around a corner until we were sure that she had left, and then returned home. Is this better at this point than having a huge fight, dealing with it, and eventually moving on? I kind of don't think so, but it makes for funnier stories.

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I kept mine covered for so long, it just got to be too much. I got tired of wearing long pants, long sleeves, and keeping my hands in my pockets. Your mom will always look at you and still see the baby she first held at the hospital; it's what moms do. Change is difficult for a parent to accept. I know I look at my kids and can't believe where the time has gone.

I went to my parents and had a very upfront talk with them about tattoos. I thanked them for raising me to be the person I am today, accepting and open minded. I explained why I do what I do. I think while they may not have wanted me to wind up heavily tattooed that they now understand it better. But a mom will always be a mom to her kids. My mom still pleads with me, "No more skulls".

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I kept mine covered for so long, it just got to be too much. I got tired of wearing long pants, long sleeves, and keeping my hands in my pockets. Your mom will always look at you and still see the baby she first held at the hospital; it's what moms do. Change is difficult for a parent to accept. I know I look at my kids and can't believe where the time has gone.

.

Exactly! And that's why it's so hard being aware they feel this way, and still trying to be your tattooed self. heh

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My dad and stepmom hate that I'm tattooed and will never come to accept it.

I feel like you just gotta do what you want with your own body and your parents have to work on accepting it on their own time. You can't control others' emotions and it's futile to try. All you can do is assure them you're still the same person you've always been. The rest up to them to sort out.

(Edited to be a bit more positive / constructive)

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I went to my parents and had a very upfront talk with them about tattoos. I thanked them for raising me to be the person I am today, accepting and open minded. I explained why I do what I do.

I think this is probably what I should do. My mom is never going to like it, and she'll probably never even be okay with it, but hopefully she can get to the point where she doesn't completely ignore me with an icy chill when a corner of one of my tattoos is visible. But what if she doesn't! Ha.

But @graybones, you're right, too.

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My mom didn't like my tattoos at first. I know you said "serious negative reaction", but my mom isn't like that, she one of those "you're awesome - I love you!" moms when you cut your own bangs straight to the top of your forehead lol. Her discontentment was obvious though, she flat out told me she didn't like tattoos, but loved me. I am pretty sure what she thought of tattoos was based on my father, who had quite a few not so good tattoos and at the same time was a much less than a shining star example of humanity. I kept getting tattooed over the years and it didn't really change things. I went through a decade long break and then couple of years ago I started large scale work done from a particular artist. How my mom felt completely changed, much to my surprise - I think she could relate too/appreciate aesthetically the style I was getting and also she could see tattoo can be different from her reference points from so long ago. She also liked that I was getting big pieces (!), like both sleeves and now a full back piece. She actually follows my tattooer; it's been an interesting evolution over twenty years.

On the other hand my mom in law didn't like them (but can cope) back then and nothing has changed. Last year, she sent a painting she did of me and my arms were magically "naked", hahaha. You can't win them all.

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My parents used to be adamantly against me getting tattooed, and I'm sure it still bothers them, they just aren't as vocal. I went 4 years between my first and second tattoo because of financial and emotional issues, and now I finally have the time and money to pursue my interests a little more. I've been getting a little less grief from them about it these days, although so far I don't have anything too "offensive," so we'll see how that changes when I get more coverage. My dad has 4 tattoos, so until I get 5, he doesn't have any room to talk. My mom is pretty artistic and likes to watch the tattoo shows like Ink Master, because she likes the art, so she's not a hard sell on subjects as long as they're cute/pretty...the day I get my first skull or dagger will be a different story, I'm sure. The biggest issue has been my boyfriend of 4 years. He just doesn't get the appeal and would prefer I didn't have any. But he's been making more of a conscious effort to understand my interest, and he likes some of the more realistic or illustrative type designs, so that's something. He would just rather not have me getting them. He has started saying he wants to be there when I get more, unfortunately he's kind of obnoxious in shops and I need to teach him the proper way to behave. :o

I think the biggest misconception a lot of people (at least all the people in my life) have, is just that tattoos are awful little scribbles and aren't real art. Everyone I know is always amazed when they see what's possible in the medium. Good tattoos can be appealing to all but the most stick-up-the-ass type of people.

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My mom didn't like my tattoos at first. I know you said "serious negative reaction", but my mom isn't like that, she one of those "you're awesome - I love you!" moms when you cut your own bangs straight to the top of your forehead lol.

Ah, you're so lucky! Ha.

@graybones, indeed. I hope my mom feels that way!

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Mom, she doesn't care for them at all but doesn't get pushy at all. We work together now so occasionally discuss tattoos I like. I make no attempt to cover around her and my step dad at all, even at work. My step dad is always amazed when I get a tattoo, not in a bad way but you can smell the brain cells burning trying wrap his mind around them and the size.

Dad, we've never really spoken of mine. Even while is was there over thanksgiving. I know he's seen them(some of them), but never brings it up. He leans a little toward liberal and his main concern is that my family and I are healthy and gainfully employed.

I've not given a shit what anyone thinks in a long time, I don't ask for permission or acceptance for anything, but if I know someone doesn't care for or about tattoos I don't flaunt or rub their face in them. It's respect IMO and it goes both ways.

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your parents may have created your body, but you are the one maintaining it!

all jokes aside, it does seem like a lot of parents hate tattoos. my step mother in particular is especially against them, and my sister and I both have them. her horror is superficially related to our being Jewish, but the truth is that I think she worries that we will be somehow outcast/unemployable if we have visible tattoos. That's mom being mom.

As hard as it is, at the end of the day it's about boundaries: the reality is, your tattoo doesn't "make" anyone feel any which way. that person reacts to it. and on the flip side, their reaction doesn't "make" you feel any which way, you react to it. Easier said than done, but I felt like once I acknowledged that my well-being is not connected to another person's (even someone who I love) visible discomfort, I had a much easier time letting their feelings pass through and around me.

It's an ongoing challenge for sure.

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As hard as it is, at the end of the day it's about boundaries: the reality is, your tattoo doesn't "make" anyone feel any which way. that person reacts to it. and on the flip side, their reaction doesn't "make" you feel any which way, you react to it. Easier said than done, but I felt like once I acknowledged that my well-being is not connected to another person's (even someone who I love) visible discomfort, I had a much easier time letting their feelings pass through and around me.

Yeah, I understand it intellectually, but it's still hard not to feel hurt when my mom treats me that way after seeing a new tattoo. It's like, I care about her and want her to be happy, so to know that something I'M doing is making her unhappy (even if it's unreasonable on her part) is hard. I guess I need to evolve a bit more :)

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Yeah, I understand it intellectually, but it's still hard not to feel hurt when my mom treats me that way after seeing a new tattoo. It's like, I care about her and want her to be happy, so to know that something I'M doing is making her unhappy (even if it's unreasonable on her part) is hard. I guess I need to evolve a bit more :)

Oh, for sure. There a big space between the intellectual and the emotional. It's especially difficult with parents I think, definitely not an on off switch.

For me, I also felt like trying to cut past the negative reaction and seeing what the trigger was for my mom allowed me to feel less angry and annoyed and more compassionate towards her feelings, even if they seemed really overwrought and somewhat irrational at first. I wish you and your folks peace in any case!

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Yeah, I understand it intellectually, but it's still hard not to feel hurt when my mom treats me that way after seeing a new tattoo. It's like, I care about her and want her to be happy, so to know that something I'M doing is making her unhappy (even if it's unreasonable on her part) is hard. I guess I need to evolve a bit more :)

Oh, for sure. There a big space between the intellectual and the emotional. It's especially difficult with parents I think, definitely not an on off switch.

For me, I also felt like trying to cut past the negative reaction and seeing what the trigger was for my mom allowed me to feel less angry and annoyed and more compassionate towards her feelings, even if they seemed really overwrought and somewhat irrational at first. I wish you and your folks peace in any case!

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When I first started, I was tattooing a friend of mine, Jimmy, every week for about 8 months. His mother's reactions were always the polite negativity that has been mentioned here, until she saw that it was making him very happy, and he felt a sense of belonging somewhere. Eventually, his brother Joey started coming in with his wife as well. Their mom also had some of the older stereotypes, and between beginning to appreciate the art and craft side of it, and watching Joey's old house tattoos get blasted over, and seeing what we were all like at the shop, she came around.

In my family, no one really approves on dad's side, but don't say much to your face (aside from my grandpa to my dad once or twice). On mom's side, it's a bit more white trash, so they're all down, but they have tended to lean towards house tattoos. That being said, a few cousins from that side, as well as my uncle, have come in and it's been my honor to tattoo them. Hopefully, I can convert a few more here and there.

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Thank you so much, @cosmic indifference!

When I first started, I was tattooing a friend of mine, Jimmy, every week for about 8 months. His mother's reactions were always the polite negativity that has been mentioned here, until she saw that it was making him very happy, and he felt a sense of belonging somewhere.

That's pretty awesome -- it's cool to hear she came around.

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My parents gave me a stern warning when I was younger that if I got a tattoo it meant I had money to waste and I could afford to pay them rent and support myself through university.

In hindsight, if I defied my parents at that time I would have got a single shitty rebellious tattoo out of my system, they would still have supported me and I probably wouldn't have ever been able to use the family car...that would be it. So I waited until I finished my last university exam and booked my first tattoo in. And now I am on track to a fine bodysuit collection.

My parents have always had a "UGH BUT IT'S SO BIG. WHY. WASTE OF MONEY" disappointment attitude towards my tattoos. Then they eventually came around to "UGH. BUT IT'S SO BIG. AT LEAST THEY ARE COLOURFUL" change of heart, yet still disappointment. And then when i breached the collar, the same "UGH. IT'S SO BIG. SO WHAT'S THE STORY..." couple minutes into telling the story with excitement they change the subject...to something less disappointing. whatever maan.

I still sense sadness in the air when my parents realize the extent of how I've 'mutilated' my body. They still

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Well I have yet to show my parents. I am not gonna tell them over the phone, I think it's better just to show them. They are coming to see me in February so that will be a good time. I feel like the reaction may be similar to my piercings (I have left lobe-which they were there for so doesn't count, eyebrow and industrial) They reacted negatively but they got over it pretty quickly. I imagine it would be the same with tattoos but I don't have one, I have 2. I also think they knew piercings can be taken out and aren't permanent like tattoos so maybe that will make a diffference. My tattoos are in places where they can be hidden so I don't see how they can say I will never be hired, etc

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My parents were definitely not enthusiastic about me getting tattooed at first and would slip an "advice" on how it might negatively affect my life here and there, but they were never harsh about it and kept cool I guess. They don't have to like it but I always thought I owe it to them to explain why I do it and how I feel about the effects it may or may not have on my life. I make it a point to always tell them before getting tattooed and occasionally talk about tattoos or about my future tattoo plans so that even if they won't like it, at least they'll get used to it.

But as time went by (and not a long time at all tbh) they've become much more positive about it and both told me that they now see tattoos in a very different way and realize that even "good guys" get tattooed. My dad even told me that he's happy that I "know what I like and have the confidence to pursue it no matter what people think".

I can't say the same about my aunts/uncles and grandparents, but everyone is treating me positively as always so far, so I guess I can't complain...:)

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My parents hated when I started getting tattooed. My Dad was absolutely against me getting them, when my mom was a little more forgiving so she let me get my first small one. I got an apprenticeship down the road and started getting more heavily tattooed and they were not happy, but it started either growing on them more or they just learned it how it is going to be. Blah blah.... basically, they now they've came around to the point where they've said I could tattoo them and like my new tattoos (even my neck and hand ones).

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