What Does It Mean When Your Child Has Tattoos?

What Does It Mean When Your Child Has Tattoos?

What do you say when your child shows you at ten years of age the tattoo’s he is designing, then when he begins “inking” his skin at 19, and has 11 tattoos by the age of 22?

In the past Tattoos were mainly for the young and the rebellious. These days you’d have to live under a rock not to notice an increasing number of ‘inked’ people, men and women, and a vibrant, growing community of tattoo artists (and tattoo removal clinics!).  This growth has been particularly evident among women with the proportion of Australian women with a tattoo now exceeding that of men.

It was interesting for me to read Trent Cotchin's article in the Herald Sun, revealing the truth about Dustin Martin.

After meeting Dustin in 2009, Trent wrote:

I had seen a picture of him in the paper a few days earlier with a tattoo which reads “Live Free Die Free,” and I remember thinking, “Oh dear.”

He was drafted alongside Ben Cousins, whose stomach tattoo (Such is Life) was pictured in the same paper, and the media immediately drew comparisons.

I remember walking past Jake King that pre-season thinking, “Hell, I’m going to have to get a couple of tattoos just to fit in around here.”


According to Harvard Medical School, here’s what a tattoo on your child does NOT (necessarily) mean:

  • It doesn’t (necessarily) say that your child has a severe psychiatric disorder.
  • It doesn’t (necessarily) mean that your child is severely disturbed.
  • It doesn’t even (necessarily) mean that your child got the tattoo to make you angry.

McCrindle surveys have shown that parents of tattooed Australians, 17% would discourage or strongly discourage their adult children from getting a tattoo. However, almost a third would encourage them to get a tattoo, and just over half of parents would neither promote or discourage their adult children from getting a tattoo if asked for advice.

Josh having his first tattoo.

Josh having his first tattoo.

I have a son, Josh, a creative boy, who loved art at school and has been designing tattoos since he was 10.  Josh always wanted tattoos, and I hoped he would grow out of it.  But to my dismay, I remember the day Josh came home at 19 and told me he was booked in for his first tattoo.  At nearly 22, as written above, Josh now has eleven.

Personally, I don't have anything against tattoos.  I agree with my older son who says: "I am not committed enough for a tattoo," which is why I don't have any.  I wish the best for my children, so they can live a life of happiness, confidence, and non-judgment, giving them every opportunity possible, and for them to be liked by others.

Josh is young, and I know who I was at a young age is not who I am now, and I don't want my son growing up with regrets.  My son is perfect the way he is in my eyes.   Josh is a great kid, who is sensitive and yes, he is different.  I have always known this.  But he is chilled out and has been a happy and confident kid.  The problem is that I see and hear some people who have always known Josh now judge him for his ink work.  Most parents who have a child or children with tattoos would agree.

I just don't want my son to go through life always having people thinking, as Trent said, "Oh dear," when they meet Josh, or Josh having to prove himself a little harder than others due to these judgments.

Josh and Jimmy having a hot chocolate together.  Jimmy has called me "Josh's Mum" for years, but now finally calls me Caz.

Josh and Jimmy having a hot chocolate together.  Jimmy has called me "Josh's Mum" for years, but now finally calls me Caz.

Josh has always been the first one to help me in the kitchen, prepared to cook for me if I was late from work, and Josh takes care of his beautiful friend, "Jimmy."  Jimmy loves Josh and knows he is safe with Josh around.  Josh has a great career, a steady girlfriend and is already in the property market.  Oh, and he is very happy.



“People often look to the surface and don’t take the time to see what’s within”

Josh has a beautiful friendship group, most of them with tattoos.  I have been honored to get to know these kids as once upon a time I too would have judged them.

Our extended family with Josh's mates.

Our extended family with Josh's mates.

Josh’s mates were always the ones who respected Simon and I and our home.  They were the ones who cleaned up after a get-together.  They even went out to find my cat for me one day when Ella escaped.  Beautiful kids, to whom many have helped me out with the backend of the blog because they are incredibly creative.

A friend of Josh's parents split, and he often didn't have anywhere to stay.  Awful situation, so   I told him he could sleep in his swag on my floor anytime.  The rules were that he was to pack up in the morning and help himself to any food or drinks in our home.  Our home became his home, and we were lucky to have him as part of our family.

Josh and his mates finding my beautiful Bermese cat, Ella.

Josh and his mates finding my beautiful Bermese cat, Ella.

Like Trent learned from Dustin, and what I have learned from Josh and his mates is to love people as they are and don't judge a book by its cover.  Like I mentioned about being open in the article about my beautiful gay friends, if I had judged them from the start, I would have missed out on all the glorious times I have experienced with them.  The same goes for people with tattoos.  These kids have taught me not to judge.  Everyone is doing what they need to do to get through life, and everyone, including me, has a history they are dealing with the best way they can at the time.

A word from beautiful Meg, who has over 50 art pieces over her body:

When Caz asked me to write a few words about being a woman with a lot of tattoos I wasn't sure where to start; and then (being a bit of academic) I started an essay. I talked about having body issues when I was younger, getting involved in the punk scene, social standards, and re-appropriation of culture...but this is not the forum for that.

The conclusion I drew from my rantings is that I can never really explain why I have so many tattoos, it's just a choice that I made, and I'm lucky enough to have people in my life that except it. 

Of course, my mother doesn't love them, but she's more focused on the fact I'm in a happy relationship, educated and treat others with respect and empathy.

At the end of the day, "Tattoos are only skin deep."

Everyone should have the chance to shine. 

I also spoke to my gorgeous accountant, Naomi, about judgment, and she shared a poem with us all.  There are a few messages here that I loved and a great reminder. 

  • Always be the best person you can be.
  • Be kind even when you’re tired.
  • Be understanding even when you’re angry.
  • Do more than you’re asked, and don’t ask for anything in return.
  • Don’t silently expect anything either. 
  • Listen when someone talks, and listen too, stop just thinking of how you’ll reply.
  • Tell people that you love them and that you appreciate them.
  • Go out of your way to do things for people.
  • Be the most fabulous person you can be and when you mess up, make up for it in the next moment or minute or day.
  • One thing you should never do?
  • Never spend your time trying to prove to anybody that you’re great, your actions will speak for themselves, and we only have limited time on this earth, don’t waste it.
  • If someone doesn’t see your light, don’t worry. Like moths, good people are attracted to flame and fire, and they will come.’

With the gay marriage debate embarking on more suicides and all the horrors going on in the world, it was refreshing to read Trent's article and hope you enjoyed reading this one on my Josh. 

Do you have a child with tattoos?  How do you feel about them?

For those of you who have adverse reactions to tattoos like I did, why do we react this way? 

Or if you no longer have these reactions, what was the change for you?

Or have you never reacted to tattoos and loved them?

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Carolyn Rowland is a qualified NLP Master Therapist, Advanced Practitioner of Matrix Therapies, Time Line Therapist, Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, has a Diploma for Business and Life Coaching and A Professional Image Stylist.  Carolyn is happily married to her husband Simon, and raised four beautiful children, who are now young adults and a teenager.

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Please leave comments below or email Carolyn@cazinc.com.au.

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