Monday, January 27, 2020

Teens Tattoos and Piercings: MD’s advised to talk with patients

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In my practice, I work with a lot of teenagers. Most are angry, and often confused, about their feelings and role in society. Regularly, they want tattoos and often are bashing heads with their parents about getting them.
In the last 10 years, the age of children who want a tattoo or piercing has gotten younger. It is common for parents to consent to earrings, especially for their daughters. The conflict often starts when the child, as young as 11, wants a bar across the upper ear cartilage, or a lip hoop, nose bobble, belly button jewelry, or a tongue barbell.
Many parents try to be reasonable and chose to barter, “OK, when you are 13 you can get a small nose ring.” At this point the whining starts, “But why do I have to wait?” “Sarah’s mom let her get a tongue stud.” The incessant whining often comes with tears and tantrums.
In a recent article in MD Edge Pediatric News, the author states:
“Although Dr. Breuner didn’t want her daughter to get the piercing, she knew saying “no” wasn’t likely to stop her teenager any more than it would another adolescent…”
I hear this often. And I agree. Parents need to say, “no” if they believe that, “no” is the correct answer. Unapproved piercings and tattoos may happen, but it is not a guarantee. The important thing is to set the expectation.

If I say no my teen yells and hates me more
OK. Your child does not like the limit setting you are doing. Welcome to parenthood. My question to you, as a caring parent, when will you set a limit? At a tongue piercing? At a nipple barbell? At a penis or labia piercing?

Tattoos, piercing, and/or cigarettes are often a fight for control
Often teens demand permission to smoke, get a tattoo, or a piercing as a way to gain a feeling of control. (Similar to a balding, newly divorced man buying a sports car.) The issue isn’t the tattoo or the piercing it is an attempt at a quick fix. The teen is trying to solve the age-old problem they struggle with, “I want to be taken care of but I also want complete freedom.”
Teens often know what they want but not what they need. I recommend having the ongoing discussion (drama and all) with your teen. Buckling because of your fear of being disobeyed or being yelled at will not help you build a supportive relationship with your child. 
I recommend digging deep into why your teen wants to change their body. What do they expect to change in their lives when they have the new piercing or tattoo? 

I have been told, by teenagers, many deeply held reasons for getting a tattoo or piercing:
  • I want to be noticed
  • I want to be cool/different/feared
  • I want to get a boyfriend/girlfriend
  • I want excitement in my stressful life
  • My favorite answer came from a 15-year-old, profoundly shy boy who had never had a date or held a girl’s hand: I want a tongue stud so I can pleasure girls the way they like to be pleasured.

Please note, the issue often isn't the tattoos or piercings it is the problem the teen thinks the tattoo or piercing will solve.
The following article has lots of helpful ideas and solid information concerning teens, tattoos, and piercings. 

Please let me know what you think by clicking the “comments” below.

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