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keepcalm

Can't shake insecurity over loved ones' perceptions of [my] tattoos

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@keepcalm you have some great responses here! I have had a similar experience with my mom. She hates tattoos and has made snide comments for years... but recently I feel like we have finally made progress. Basically, I would just argue with her about it a little each time she would make a comment, and then drop it and go about my business of getting tattooed as much as I liked.

Then, this last time I saw her (over the summer) she was upset about a comment I made about her being mean to me over my tattoos. She said she has never been MEAN to me, but was just stating her opinion. I told her, "I already know your opinion so constantly restating it is kind of, well, mean! The tattoos are here to stay so get used to it!" Since then she has stopped with anything negative or any mention of them.

For a long while there she wouldn't "like" any pics of me on facebook if my tattoos showed (whereas she "liked" all my pics where they don't show). Quite recently she liked AND commented, "I love this" on a picture that clearly showed my whole right sleeve. PROGRESS! I wasn't expecting to crack through her shallow, cold, hatred of tattoos, but it's happening! Or at least it's not in my face any more. Yay.

Hang in there. You gotta be you.

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My mom gets hella plastic surgery, I'm not into that kind of body mod, so that's what I relate the tattoo thing to at the moment.

Once upon a time, I had a pretty interesting conversation with a girl I dated at the time, how she wanted to get a boob job. I told her I wasn't into it. Then she said, "So does that mean I can stop you from getting tattooed because I'm not into it?"

Safe to say, we aren't dating anymore.

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I asked my son to keep it within the confines of a button down shirt until he knows more about the direction his life will take. He knows he's going to have an interesting holiday with his dad's side of the family. His dad and aunts are tattooed, but his Grandma will be disappointed. My mom asked to see it.

He has a video game tattoo. I would not have it, but it is well done and important to him. He put it on the back of his upper arm, and he'll be able to expand it fairly easily, and highlight things that will be more important to him later in life on his shoulder.

I just can't understand being so upset with your child over something so - unimportant. If a tattoo is 'the worst thing you've done' then you are a pretty good kid :)

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@CABS yeah I get that a lot, exes saying they don't want me to get any more work done, which is why they are now exes. Even dating, rarely get passed the 1st date because of them. But fuck, it it's their problem.

@Tornado6 I've a video game tattoo and I plan on getting more :) I love it so much.

Still in bit of shock...

A few minutes ago my mum asked me if I'd ever get the scars on my inner left forearm tattooed. I replied with, it's something I might consider, yes. She just nodded.

Maybe she's starting to come around? In her own quiet way.

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This has been such an interesting read. I feel for everyone who has faced issues with their parents over their tattoos. Some very sound advice in this thread.

I feel pretty lucky that my parents have been so great about my tattoos. My stepmum and dad love them, my mum took a bit to come around in the beginning. She told me she didn't know how she felt about the big lady head on my thigh. I explained to her that it was a symbol of my struggle with mental illness and I think she was able to see it in a different light. I also told her that I would be getting more, and that she needed to tell me if she wanted me to let her know about them or not. She took a while to respond to my email, but in the end she came around and is pretty positive towards them. I really thought I'd be having issues with Dad about them, but he's been so good.

My mum hasn't seen my arms yet (apart from pics on email) as we live in different countries, so it will be interesting how she reacts in person the next time I go back home.

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my wife and i had an interesting convo from the potential future parent of a tattooed child perspective - huh?

basically my kids are 12,9,7 and my wife has no ink - i have tatts 10 and 11 upcoming in dec and jan

this morning we were discussing the idea of our kids wanting / getting tattoos as they got older

my wife was not thrilled with the idea at all - haha she only likes a few of mine

very honest up front lady i love her! :)

anyway - i of course would welcome the idea of the kids ultimately getting ink

my only wishes (of probable future advice) includes:

- be at least 18

- do your homework on the artist / art / etc.

- pick a spot that will be easily covered for those first few to see if indeed the whole deal is for you and to give consideration for occupational directions that might be on the table for your future

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My parents don't really care for mine. Mine keep getting bigger, and their eyebrows keep raising higher. The last time I went to get my 1/2 sleeve worked on, my mom came w/me to drive me home, so she watched. I figured she'd read the whole time, but she spent quite a bit of time watching and asking the artist questions. That went quite a ways toward a bit more acceptance. She was quite animated when telling Dad about it...so it could be that he goes at some point to watch too. He sends me emails now and again about making sure things are sterile, and I just roll my eyes and delete, knowing he's doing it out of love and concern. I think mom was expecting like..a filthy dirty back alley syringes tossed onto the floor hookers in the next room kinda place-and when we walked in she pretty much stopped short and said "Woah" Heavily tattooed men, some pierced, some w/big gauges--super polite, very professional. That goes a long way.

I'm not sure what the answer is. Let your character speak for itself. If mom thinks tattoos are trashy, your actions will belie that thought, eventually, in her mind.

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@iowagirl, I have a similar story. When my mom accidentally saw me getting tattooed, it went a long way towards helping her accept, if not necessarily approve of it - I was never in danger of falling out with my family, but at various points she'd called it "creepy" and "aggressive." (I like "aggressive" actually - we've mentioned the attitude that women's bodies are for public consumption as being linked to some of the particular bullshit tattooed women get, so in this context taking your body back by marking it is an act of aggression. For parents maybe it's a different kind of aggression - like you're further distancing yourself, after all the normal ties that get severed in your 20s, by permanently changing something they made.) It eased some of her worries about pain and sterility.

@keepcalm, I like the idea of writing a letter to your mom and seeing if she'd be willing to explain what exactly bothers her about the tattoos. Can you involve your dad in this discussion without making him feel he's being used as backup? Maybe a harm-reduction approach is best - focusing on changing her reactions instead of her attitudes, like getting her to at least stop the silent treatments. Silent treatments suck.

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This has been a great thread - I realize I need to be more appreciative of how my folks and family have reacted to my ink! When I first started getting tattooed (almost 20 years ago now) my Mom hated them. We had to have the "why are you doing this to me" and "I don't see why you want to deface your body" conversations where I had to explain that none of my tattoos were about HER and that I didn't see it as defacement.

Over the years, and many more tattoos (big hiatus in the middle where I got an eyebrow piercing instead, ha!) she now understands that this is a form of my own self expression and it's not a reflection of her. I've proven that I make good decisions on placement, style and content and that they don't hurt my life opportunities. My Dad is slowly coming around, but he will never like them. My brother and sister in law show them to my nephews (4 and 2 now) and we play "what is this? yes, bird! what sound does the bird make?" with the younger one. My other nephews show me their press on Spidermans when we Skype.

None of my family would ever get one. And some don't 'understand' them. Which is fine. They don't have to. But nobody should make you feel BAD about them. Or ashamed. And look at all these stories of parents who came around to some understanding in the end. I think there is something burned into our psyches (especially us girls) that want our Moms to be proud. And those of us with tattoos know that our tattoos are part of us and it feels like a rejection of ALL of who we are when someone is just nasty. Never forget you are more than your skin.

Good luck. :)

(that got a little rambley! sorry)

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Best of luck! It sucks. But you're an adult and you like your tattoos - that is ALL THAT MATTERS!!!!

Firstly, what a great thread- so good to hear so many open and honest experiences. As others have said, I can really relate to what has been said about feeling a sense of guilt and shame about my tattoos and consequently not trusting my own convictions. Being told by anyone that by getting (particularly visible tattoos in my case) you have sabotaged your future happiness is bad enough. But being told by your mum, even if its only implicitly by a line of negative questioning that I have ruined everything from future job prospects, my looks, to even the chance at being a good and respected father is a hammer blow.

I really don't think they mean to be as cruel as they are, if it was someone else's child they would be able to see that undermining someone you love in such a devastating way is wrong. I'm not a parent, but after sitting down with my mum and thrashing all this stuff out I think it has a lot to do with letting go, that this

baby who they bathed and protected for so long is now an adult and is asserting such (from my mothers perspective anyway) a visible, brutal autonomy over their own body.

the weight of parental expectations has been an absolute bastard for me, comparing myself to other family members and feeling like a failure because, by getting tattoos i had closed the door on my own future. It is only now at 27 that I am beginning to see that there is not only one game in town, and that the occupations that would exclude me for being visibly tattooed are not ever wanted for my life anyway! I currently work as a bartender in a good cocktail bar and I plan to combine this with a yoga teacher training course which i'm going to start next year, I also plan on completing both my sleeves by the end of next year. I'm not gonna be a lawyer or an academic and I can't see myself earning a tone of money, but as @beez so rightly points out, we are all adults with the right to make our own decisions.

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I've spent most of my adult life trying not to be my father, so tattoos were part of that direction. I mean he was basically a good person, just not a good provider and that kept us from doing things that kids should do. I also got into motorcycles, stock cars and the lifestyle that went with that.

Most of my family was okay with it and I was the only one tattooed for many years. Now more in my family have them, my kids, nieces and nephews, cousins too. My wife's brother married into a jewish family.. tattoos... a huge no-no. Plus these are real stick up the ass people in general who don't venture too far from their comfort zone.

A good friend of mine, his wife and daughter went out and got matching tattoos a few months back, he was very upset at first. Someone I know from the beach I go to, his daughter has some huge pieces on her, nice work but he is far from pleased about it.

So in the end, you can't make everyone happy. And the compulsion to get a tattoo is a strong one, not to be entered into lightly. I think that almost everyone gives it a lot of thought before getting one.

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A brief update here: @Pugilist was spending some time with her mom yesterday (who still doesn't know that either of us have any tattoos at all) and she was trying to push Anna to get me to cut my hair because I "look like a bum". Then she said that at least I don't have holes in my ears. Oh, how little she knows.

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Interesting subject!

My mom has been the "cool/hip" mom... For my 18th birthday, as a present my brother and my mom bought me my first tattoo... ON the other HAND my dad is very conservative... I was still leaving under their roof when I got my first tattoo and my mom advice me to hide it from my dad as long as I could.... That didn't lasted too long... :eek: One day we got in to a big argument and got some what physical and he broke my shirt.... Yup he saw it... He kicked me out of our/his home... I was out for a few weeks, my mom found me and took me back home.... Our relationship never got better and I was stubborn... I went and got more tattoos and piercings... It made me more rebel... My mom try so hard to make things better :(

Today my dad lives under my roof and he as cool as he can be... :D

My mom still likes tattoo and likes going to the studios with me but due to her illness she no longer does...

I take care of both my parents.

Life.

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hey- just wanted to share that i've been going through similar stresses. I'm 26, been getting tattooed since i was 22. my mom really hates them, my dad doesn't seem to mind too much.

my solution has been to just not show them when we are visiting (this isn't hard for me to do, as i haven't gone below the elbow yet. i can conceal everything with long pants and a t shirt.)

i get stressed out about it at lot, and sometimes i feel guilty about how my mother might react if she knew about each new tattoo i get. but that fades. and really, even despite all the great things your parents have given to your life, it's your body and your choice. life can be a trying pain in the ass, and if tattooing is something that helps you stay enthusiastic, then just do it because it really isn't hurting anybody.

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