Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible
Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence
AND BODY PIERCING: A BIG DECISION
Tania K. Cowling
many adolescents, hair and clothing is as important to them as food
and water. Whether itÁs tattooing, body piercing, or the latest look
in clothing, teens express themselves through what they wear and how
they look. And if we remember, so did we!
markings today is like the long hair and outrageous clothing of the
sixties; our hippie generation. ItÁs this groupÁs way of being outrageous
and different. To your child, a piercing or tattoo is an outward expression
that says, ËIÁm growing up and making decisions on my own, even
if they offend you.Ó ItÁs a normal part of the maturing process.
Legally, you are responsible for your child until the age of 18, you
can say no, but how do you respect your teenÁs need for independence
and avoid the rebellious behavior?
self-expression is usually a short-lived phase. There is a very small
window of opportunity between the ages of 13-19 where itÁs okay to
have blue hair, a shaved head, and hole-filled jeans. This window
of opportunity is a time for us as well to celebrate the changes that
our teens are going through and their growth into adulthood. However,
when it comes to tattoos and body piercing, parents are concerned
what happens when the fad fades. This is where a lot of talking and
education is needed decisions need to be made. With this in mind,
try to approach your childÁs desire to make a body alteration in a
rational way. ItÁs best to remain calm and unoffended when your child
talks to you about these issues. ItÁs important to talk together about
the following factors:
- Passing Fads-- Remind your teen about
other fads and trends that are no longer in style. Explain that
while last yearÁs flared pants can easily be exchanged for this
yearÁs capriÁs, a piercing or tattoo is a physical change thatÁs
much harder to discard when the trend changes.
- Appearance Ask your teen how he
wants to be viewed by other people. Talk about the impact a pierced
tongue or eyebrow might have on that perception. What about a fading
tattoo, a wrong name when a relationship changes and even the expense
and pain in tattoo removal. Talk about other ways your child might
express individualism and independence through writing, choice of
clothing, hair, or even in a part-time job choice.
- Health Concerns It takes a long time
for the body to heal from a piercing or tattoo itÁs uncomfortable
too. The most serious risks are bleeding, allergic reactions, and
infections caused by hepatitis, HIV, tetanus, bacteria, and yeast.
- Compromise If you canÁt stand the
thought of your child with a tongue bar or a tattoo, come up with
a solution you can both agree on. Maybe youÁd be more apt to accept
a third earring or even a navel ring. Other options may be removable
temporary tattoos that last up to four weeks, clip-on or magnetic
rings for the lip, nose or navel, and glue-on studs for the nose.
- Time Ask your teen to think about the decision
for a set amount of time. At the end of that time, talk with your
child again about the reasons for wanting the piercing or tattoo
and possible side effects. Be honest about your feelings too.
THE RISKS BEFORE YOU PIERCE OR TATTOO:
infections, Hepatitis B and C, and tetanus. Tattooing carries the risk of acquiring
HIV. Allergic contact dermatitis (severe skin irritation) and keloids
(thick scarring at the site tattoo or piercing). Possibility of excessive
bleeding. Damage to nerves (You may lose feeling at the area that
gets pierced.). Dental damage (swelling and infection of tongue, chipped
and broken teeth, choking on loose jewelry).
- Blood donations cannot be made for a year
after getting a tattoo, body piercing, or permanent makeup.
- Some people are allergic to the tattoo dye and their body will
work to reject the tattoo.
- Tattoo removal is very expensive. A tattoo that costs
$50 to apply may cost over $1000 to remove. Sometimes removal may
cause permanent discoloration of the skin.
- Make sure all instruments for tattoo or piercing
are packaged, sterile equipment that is thrown away in special biohazard
- Healing time varies from a few weeks up to
If you decide to allow your teen to pierce or tattoo a body
part, make sure you take these precautions:
- Choose needles over piercing guns. According to the experts
in body piercing, these guns are rarely sterile, quite traumatic
to the body tissue and often inaccurate. A piercing needle is safer
and carries less risk of infection or injury.
- Make sure the person doing the piercing or
tattoo is a licensed/certified practitioner (A certificate should be on display.)
and wears sterile, disposable latex gloves.
- After you get home, have your teen follow
directions using alcohol, and/or antibiotic ointments.
- Watch for any redness, swelling, or pain at the site of the
tattoo or piercing. If these do occur, consult your physician on
the best way to treat them.
- Choose jewelry made of gold, silver, platinum
or stainless steel. The less expensive jewelry often contains
nickel and zinc, which can cause allergic reactions like itching
parents and all adults need not judge a teen by the cover. Parents
can focus too much on the physical things that are happening to their
kids and the styles theyÁve taken on and forget that this is a commendable
young person who is struggling valiantly to reach adulthood.