My Thoughts On: The Tattooed Minor, “Parenting Isn’t Hard” and other Parental Choices

I love reading Babble. I love the thought provoking posts the writers contribute (and secretly, I wish that one day I’ll be asked to be a contributor on their site, but that’s a post for another day), although I don’t always agree with the opinions, I enjoy reading about other people’s thoughts on a wide variety of parenting subjects.

The other day I was reading an article on the mom who gave her consent for her 10 year old son to get a tattoo in memory of his deceased brother. You can read the article here. As per usual, Babble asked readers for their thoughts.

My thoughts on the whole matter? The law isn’t too strict. I don’t agree with tattooing a 10 year old, regardless of the reason. If he really wanted a tattoo in memory of his brother, that’s fine…he could wait until he was the legal age. In Ontario, you can get a tattoo at 16 but only with a legal guardian’s consent. The legal guardian has to be over the age of 18. There is a huge difference, developmentally, between a 10 year old and a 16 year old. I see nothing wrong with making your 10 year old son wait until he’s at least 16 and if he still felt just as strong about getting the tattoo, fine. Getting a tattoo in memory of someone is a beautiful reason, but I’d also make sure I “approved” of it before it was done – meaning that I would need to see the design, see the artist’s work, and “approve” of the location. Yes, both Matt and I have tattoos (and will be getting more) but we both have ones we regret. Either the artist wasn’t very good (like, at all…note to self, never get “free” tattoos), or the placement is too hard to conceal. At 16, most kids don’t know what they want to do when they grow up, and I want to make sure that the tattoo won’t interfere with career choices.

16 is incredibly young to get a tattoo too, and I can’t say I’d even give my consent. I will probably make both my kids wait until they are 18, unless I truly felt it wasn’t something they would regret later on in life.

So no, I don’t agree with giving consent for your 10 year old to get a tattoo, regardless of the meaning behind it. There’s nothing wrong with saying “that’s a beautiful idea, however, you’re going to wait until you are older”.

Do I agree with her getting arrested for it? No…not really. I think that’s a bit excessive. If her child isn’t neglected and she’s generally a good parent who just made a bad decision because she misses her other son and truly felt that it was a great tribute to him, then I don’t think going to jail is a suitable “punishment”. She should have found a different way to help him deal with the grief until he is old enough to get a tattoo, by law, but I’m sad for her. She’s lost one son, and now is going to jail for a very poor parental choice. I personally think the tattoo artist shouldn’t have done the tattoo in the first place, and he/she should be looked at for ethical reasons.

So, that’s my opinion on that. Now onto the real reason for this post: the comments [on Facebook] and the post. A few comments were made about how “circumcision is just as bad”. This really irritated me. If circumcisions were just as bad, then they wouldn’t be legal. There are medical benefits to having your son circumcised, but I’m really not going to get into that here – I know people are either pro or against, and behind it 100%. That’s why I make it a point to not discuss whether or not we circumcised our boys. I’ve had people ask me, and my answer is always the same. What’s it to you?

Remember the days when things like circumcision weren’t discussed? They were inappropriate conversations to have? I still feel that way. A lot of people can’t accept the fact that others have different opinions from them, and they just can’t agree to disagree. Instead, name calling gets tossed around. I’ve read the anti-circumcision parents calling the parents who did circumcise their boys abusive. What the hell? Really? The judgy-mcjudgy parents need to get off their damn high horse and stop tossing that word around. Just because you don’t agree with a parental choice someone else has made, doesn’t mean you get to call them “bad parents” or “abusive”. That isn’t how it works. If I don’t agree with something someone is doing, I hold my tongue and accept the fact that I don’t agree, and I drop it. My parental decisions are just that: mine. Just like yours are yours, and I won’t call you a bad parent for simply making a different decision.

You are a bad parent if you don’t love your child, if you hit and belittle and scream at and generally just don’t take care of you kid. If you don’t give a rats ass, you’re a bad parent.

But if you’re doing the best that you can? If you generally love your child and it shows, despite the different parental choices you make? You’re a good parent. Nobody has the solution to everything. Nobody knows the “right” way to parent because there is none. You just do the best you can do and love your child unconditionally.

I don’t think it’s right for anyone to call anyone else a bad parent based on their parental choices. Like when Jill blogged about using the CIO Method on her kids, the amount of people attacking her for this decision, telling her she didn’t love her own daughter, truly sickened me. So the CIO Method isn’t something you’d do; whatever, that’s fine, if that works for your family that’s fantastic. I did the CIO Method with Nolan because I had to. Because if I went into his room I’d only anger and frustrate him off more. With Archer, things are different. He’s a different kid. If he cries, it’s because he needs something – a diaper change or a feeding. He’s also 4 months old. Who knows what will happen when he’s close to a year? Who knows what “method” will work for him, and for us?

I once blogged about my yelling. I’m a yeller, always have been. It’s something I’m working on, something I’m trying to not do because I don’t like yelling. But it’s not like I yell for no reason. If Nolan is being bad and not listening to my gentle voice, I’ll raise it. He knows I mean business and he’ll stop what he’s doing. He knows that I love him, unconditionally. Raising my voice doesn’t mean I don’t respect him. I don’t belittle him when I yell at him, I’m generally saying “NOLAN, we don’t touch/do that”. I give time outs, I do my best to correct inappropriate behavior and I don’t think that makes me a bad parent, like the author of this post believes. My friend Allie wrote a post on her response to this bizarre, judgmental post, and I read it…the entire time I nodded my head in agreement. I read her post first, and then the Blogher post. I was sicken by what I read…I don’t appreciate being called a bad parent for having picked up my child and carried him out mid temper tantrum. I pick him up to avoid “dragging” him, which would happen if I’m trying to lead him out of an area and he flops down to the ground. I don’t judge a parent when I see them trying to lead their child out, and they end up “dragging” them. Sometimes, our kids don’t listen to us. Sometimes, our hands are full of other things and we can’t carry them out. I give that parent a sympathetic smile because I’ve been there. I always choose to carry, if I can, because Nolan’s shoulders are very weak and I fear dislocation. I make it a habit of letting go of his hand if he tries to drop down, and he knows this and tries to take advantage of it.

I don’t find this method harsh or abusive. Adults don’t throw tantrums in public, because we learned young not to. Because we got a firm talking to and removal from the place we were having a meltdown in. Those times that I have taken Nolan out of a store for not listening, I haven’t been mean about it. I’ve removed him from the situation and explained to him why I removed him and why he’s in trouble.

When kids throw temper tantrums, people look and they judge and that needs to stop. People judging others based on “impressions” is just redundant. You’re judged if you ignore the behavior. You’re judged if you try to correct the behavior.

Sometimes, I wonder if things will ever get easier. I find I’m getting judged on so many things with my kids this little. Whether or not I had them circumcised, whether or not I breastfeed or cloth diaper, whether or not I spent over 300 on a stroller, and so on and so forth. I’ve had moms tsk at me because I don’t spend thousands on baby gear, or baby clothes. I don’t have the “top brands” and therefore, in their eyes, I love my kids less. This is such and utter crap, I’d love to be able to buy the “top brands” of baby stuff but I can’t afford to. My kids are clean, fed, and, I like to think, well dressed…but I’m not going to break the bank for brand name things. I find that I’m constantly worried that people think I’m a bad mom because my opinions and parenting techniques differ from theirs. And I’m tired of worrying about that, I really am.

Aren’t you?

I really wish the harsh judgments would stop. It’s okay to have a different opinion, but the name calling and outright rudeness needs to stop. Don’t you agree?

Now would be a good time to point you in the direction of The Mom Pledge. I feel very strongly about stopping mommy bullying, and every other kind of bullying. I’ve taken the pledge, and if you also want to put a stop to bullying…you should too. 

The Mom Pledge:

I am a proud to be a mom. I will conduct myself with integrity in all my online activities. I can lead by example.

I pledge to treat my fellow moms with respect. I will acknowledge that there is no one, “right” way to be a good mom. Each woman makes the choices best for her family.
I believe a healthy dialogue on important issues is a good thing. I will welcome differing opinions when offered in a respectful, non-judgmental manner. And will treat those who do so in kind.
I stand up against cyber bullying. My online space reflects who I am and what I believe in. I will not tolerate comments that are defamatory, hateful or threatening.
I refuse to give those who attack a platform. I will remove their remarks with no mention or response. I can take control.
I want to see moms work together to build one another up, not tear each other down. Words can be used as weapons. I will not engage in that behavior.
I affirm that we are a community. As a member, I will strive to foster goodwill among moms. Together, we can make a difference. 

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  1. Amen…PS Vincent threw a full blown psycho tantrum in Gap and you better believe I had to drag him out kicking and screaming! It was very exciting!:)


  2. The whole getting a tattoo at 10 thing is crazy. At 10 there's no telling what I would have ended up with. Prob a Nsync tattoo. and 16 would have been no better. I would have a huge gothic tattoo or something.
    Kids really need to think about what they get done. Your not going to like the same things in 10 years.
    Like I have seen picture of girls getting justin beiber tattoos. Really?


  3. As far as that tattoo thing, besides the fact that thing is 10, I'm sure his body is going to continue to grow and be very different looking by the time he is 18. I'm not quite sure that tattoo is going to look the same :/ I'm heavily tattooed so I have no problems with them but I don't think I could allow my kid to get one at that age. I waited until I was 19 and I really don't love my first tattoo. I agree, she shouldn't have been arrested.

    Circumcision-can't really comment. I don't have babies of my own so I've never had to make that decision and really don't care what other people do, it's none of my business.


  4. I got tattooed at 16 without my parents knowing. I had wanted it for years so I was sure of it. Its not my favorite one, but I don't regret it.

    The problem with laws is that not everything is treated fairly. People od on alcohol much more often than on marijuana, but alcohol is legal and weed isnt . The legal drinking age use to be 18, then to get financing for highways, the US Govt made thee states raise it so they could get federal funding.

    While some laws are good, some are bad, and other downright absurd. The one thing they have in common is its a person's idea that was pushed and publicized enough to make it into a law.


  5. 1/2 I already know I'm going to be really strict. No piercings other than ears. No stretching ears to the point where they won't return to their natural state if they wanted them to. Definitely no tattoos. At least not until they're of age to have it done without my consent! It's not that I have anything against those things. I just thinks kids make decisions really spontaneously and based on current trends. And well…a tattoo is SO permanent! I understand that this 10 year old's tattoo was a thoughtful one but 10 years old is simply TOO YOUNG for a tattoo. It's completely inappropriate, regardless of the reason. And then the practical side of me thinks, “He's not even finished growing yet, what if the tattoo stretches out and looks all ridiculous one day? Then he has something permanent on his body that was done with the best of intentions and now looks terrible.” Do I think she should have been charged for this? Well, yes. While her intentions were honorable, not every one else's are and if she's made an example of then perhaps this type of thing won't happen again for a while. Jail time would definitely be excessive, I was thinking more like paying a fine or something.

    Circumcisions are just as bad? Good grief, circumcisions are generally done for HEALTH benefits. Yes, some parents opt to do it for cosmetic reasoning alone. Do I disagree with that choice? Absolutely. However, even under those circumstances, circumcision is not the same thing as a child having a tattoo placed on their body. A tattoo, while often sentimental and meaningful, does not have any medical benefits. But as the mother of a little boy who we did have circumcised, I can say without a shout of a doubt we did it for the health and hygiene benefits alone (I'm not bothered by talking about it, but I won't ask another person whether they made that decision for their son). Imagine having a 10 year old boy with an infected foreskin due to being unable to get in there and thoroughly clean (some foreskin you cannot pull back!) and having to get him circumcised THEN? When he could remember the entire experience? No thank you, I shudder to imagine that. Furthermore, my son didn't cry during his circumcision as a local anesthetic was used, and it never bothered him thereafter either. That said, I reserve no judgement for parents who don't circumcise their boys. I'm simply stating why it was the right decision for OUR family. Why I don't like to be called “inhumane.” Also why it's incomparable to having a 10 year old child tattooed.


  6. 2/2 I agree with your theory on what makes a person a good parent. I try REALLY hard not to judge others, although it is in human nature to pass judgement. As far as I'm concerned, I don't care if you didn't circumcise your boy, whether you breastfeed, formula feed, co-sleep, have a night time nanny, let your kids CIO, let your kids have a bottle or paci until they're 4, feed your baby jarred baby food, whatever. None of that will ultimately effect me, and it's everyone's God given right as a parent to make their own decisions as they see fit.

    I will however say that I DO judge parents who absolutely refuse to discipline their children. I say this because when I was babysitting for a friend of mine, her five year old son was BEATING my two year old every time I had my back turned. Not a little swat here and there, he left welts on my son's back. I gave the boy time outs but they were not effective, and I informed his mother of the problem and she just wouldn't address it. It got to point where I was feeling very judgmental of her and I had to stop providing her with child care. Her parenting decisions were effecting the well being of my child. It was a heartbreaking experience that still brings tears to my eyes.

    Anyways, those are just my thoughts. This is a great post. As I wrote on Allie's blog earlier today, we, as mothers, should stand together. At the end of the day we all have one thing in common: we are parents, just trying to do the right thing for our kids.


  7. Oh man, that must have been totally awesome, the best part of your day right? Because parenting is easy and what not? 😉 lmao


  8. I would have ended up with a pointless NSYNC too. At 16, I would have had Hedley or Fall Out Boy or something. When I was 19, I did decide to get a tattoo. I got a rose. It symbolizes beauty to me, and mine looks like the rose from Beauty and the Beast lol! I love my first tattoo…it's my second and third tattooes that I cringe at. I let some chick with a tattoo gun do them. WORST DECISION EVER. Which is why I'll be super strict when it comes to tattoos and my kids, even though I have them and will continue to get them.


  9. This is a very well written and thought out post. I agree my choices are just that mine.


  10. You're right, his body will grow and be very different looking. I am tattooed (although not heavily) and I won't allow my kids to get a tattoo at that age. I wouldn't even give consent at 16! Besides, it would probably be on my dime so….no lol.


  11. That's different though, lol. I told my dad I was getting a tattoo, I didn't ask for permission I just gave him the heads up because I know how he feels about it but I wanted him to know I respected his stance but I still wanted one. I was 18 when I got it. I waited 7 months after I turned 18, so that I knew I wanted it. I chose a discreet place for my first tattoo too.

    You're right, that IS the problem with laws. I think I'll write a post on marijuana next LOL! And my thoughts on that 😉


  12. I'm going to be strict too, however..when it comes to piercings, I'll be a little bit laid back. AFTER a certain age. Like I won't approve or endorse, or consent to my boys getting anything pierced before the age of 16 and even THEN I won't let them get their ears stretched until after 18 years old. Piercings you can heal from, you can take them out for jobs and what not. You can't for tattoos, which is why I will not consent to anything at 16. Even if I really like the idea, they can wait – and if it's still a good idea after they are 18, they can get it. By that point they won't need my consent.
    As for the mom, I don't think her intentions were honorable, but weakened by the fact that the tattoo was “for” his brother. I think she should be charged with a fine, but jail time is definitely excessive – as I wrote.

    AND I KNOW, I raged when I read that. What health benefit does a tattoo have? None. Most of these people bashing circumcision were PRO give a ten year old a tattoo if it “means something”. Ear piercing and tattoos are totally different, you can remove piercings…not tattoos.


  13. Refusing do discipline your children falls under my “not giving a rats ass” category though. If you refuse to discipline your children, well…you're just not caring enough to help them become amazing people. Children need direction and discipline, just as much as they need love. I know when I got into trouble for something, what I did was wrong and my parents cared enough to TEACH me that. I never made a mistake more than once. I only snuck out once, I only [got caught] drinking once. Etc etc.

    I agree, we should stand together as mothers. Offer support, advice when needed (but POLITE advice, not “omfg you're doing it wrong do it this way” ASSvice).


  14. Thank you Bobbi Janay! I may, on occasion, write about my decisions, but only to share my experiences. I never once claimed to be an expert in parenting and childhood development, I'm just a mama doing what I think is right and best for our family <3


  15. I don't think anybody is an expert Jess! I think every child and every parent is different, and ALL of us are learning.


  16. You so should have a Babble. I'm DMing you something similar, possibly better.

    It seems like everything related to parenting is always the center of some “you suck as a parent” debate. There should only be a few things that qualify a parent as shitty, and you already did a great job of listing them. Heaven help the fool who calls me a bad mom when I have kids, hahaha. Seriously, though, I'm sick of people pointing fingers at each other and calling each other out on their parenting methods. They're called methods for a reason, people; what works for one parent or child won't work for another. All parents have — or should have, anyway — the same goals: love and raise their children the best they can. It burns me up when moms have screaming matches via Twitter because “breastfeeding is bad” or “formula feeding is bad,” or when they tear each other new you-know-whats via blog comments because one had her son circumcised and the other didn't. There used to be an unspoken rule about minding your own damn business about how other people raised their kids unless someone was being hurt, and society seriously needs to get back to abiding that.

    I probably wouldn't allow my ten-year-old to get a tattoo, but only for the same reasons you stated. Even as an eighteen-year-old about to get my first tattoo, I wasn't 100% sure and waited until I knew I was sure. I don't think it makes her a bad parent… but it probably wasn't a very wise decision.


  17. Well, you see, it IS illegal for a minor to get a tattoo UNLESS they are 16 WITH parental consent, at least here anyway. So bottom line; she did break a law. However, I find jail time is a little bit too heavy.

    I look forward to your DM! Thanks Liz!


  18. I'm not a mom, but I totally agree with everything you just said. People seriously need to stop being so judgemental about other people's decisions, especially when it comes to such personal matters as how to raise their children.


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