Is a tattoo for you?

Is a tattoo for you?

My 16 year old son came to me the other day and said he wanted to get a tattoo. Of course he has to have my permission for this to be done and that brought up all sorts of things in me. Among other topics of discussion around this I did ask him to take a quiet moment and to tune in and see what his true intentions were for getting it done. If it was for ego, image or peer group acceptance than that was not enough for me to say yes. What he wanted to have done did represent something that was a passion for him and I can’t see that changing as it has been that way from a baby. Thankfully for the time being it has been put on the back burner so it gives me more time to explore my own thoughts and triggers around this. 

Now it may be hypocritical as I have four tattoos and am planning on at least one more. I know that people get tattoos for a variety of reasons, mine have all marked a significant period in my life. Not one was purely for show or because I happen to like the image. My first one was at 21, I had left home and was travelling around Australia – it was my tattoo of independence and spontaneity. My second was at a time in my life when I was desperate to know who I was again, I felt like a tight rose bud, wanting to bloom and not having enough sun, space and support to do so ( I would like to change this one now). The third represented the worst and best time of my life, it means hope, dreams, love, fragrance, beauty. The fourth was illustrative of my spiritual journey and how far I felt I had come. Number five has been decided and is just waiting for the right time. 

The history of tattoos shows that they have been an integral part of initiations, status, adornment, belonging and transitions for thousands of years. I know for me they have literally ‘marked’ my life’s journey. Not once have I regretted them and they are part of who I am. Are they for more son? Well I think he can decide that – when he turns 18.  Like children they are a life long commitment. 

I have to say, they fascinate me and I often wonder as I am glancing at them on other people whether like me there is a story behind them? Now that is a photographic book worth considering! I would love to know about your tattoo and the meaning behind it if you are willing to share. 

13 Responses to Is a tattoo for you?

  • Hi Natalie, I have also been through this dilemma with my boys who are now 21 and 23. I have a small tattoo of a dolphin on my hip, so like you was not in a position to condemn them. You have made the right decision in telling him yes that “yes he can have one” but not until he is 18. I also did this with my boys and recommended that they consider having a tattoo that was in a place that they could easily keep private so that it would not affect their chances of employment. Only one of them has followed through with a small tattoo on his ankle and the other is over it.
    Good luck.

    • natalie says:

      Hi Tracey, the tattoo he wanted was of a wave and he is such a water baby! He also was going to have it done in a place where it can be covered. My concern is that he might just change his mind and I don’t want that responsibility. Does your dolphin have significance for you?

      • Hi Natalie, yes it does. I have also always loved the ocean. I surf when I can and swim in the ocean every day. I always feel at home in the ocean and have often joked that I must have been a dolphin in a past life.

        • natalie says:

          What a wonderful animal to be connected with. I swam with wild dolphins when I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter (now 19). It was the most amazing experience.

  • Madonna says:

    Hi Natalie,
    I definitely would not let my 16 year old get a tattoo. I am always reminded of the advertisement for the frying pan in which the old lady is shown to have a tattoo on her wrinkly arm and it looks horrible. I come from an era when only bikies and criminals got tattoos and I’m afraid I have not looked upon them fondly.
    I would hate the thought of being permanently locked into the clothes or hairstyles of my youth, and I think I might find tattoos in the same category. What happens if one day you look at them and hate them? Or realise that they are no longer you?
    But each to their own.
    You took the right approach with your son though, because you didn’t make it so attractive for him by being opposed to them.
    Good post Natalie. Really enjoyed it.
    Madonna

  • natalie says:

    Thanks Madonna, I too would hate to have had the hair style I sported in the 80’s. Having a tattoo is a personal choice and one I did not make lightly for the reasons you have mentioned. Mine are all in places I can cover so that I won’t end up like Granny on the ad.

  • Tanya says:

    Hi Natalie, I don’t have any tattoos myself, but I have been toying with the idea of getting one for the phases of the moon and what that represents, currently i am not getting it done mainly because I want to get it on a bony part of my body and I am a scaredy cat about pain so I will keep on thinking about it until I decide fully a yes or no … although it is more like a yes than a no!! A friend of mine from high school kept a picture of the tatt design she wanted in her wallet since high school, she said if she still liked the design in 10 years she would get it put on her body. I asked her recently if she decided to get her tatt and she said no and that she was glad she didn’t just do it. cheers Tanya

    • natalie says:

      Hi Tanya, yes the pain factor is a consideration. I guess you will know when the time is right. I love the idea of carrying the design. I should suggest that to my son. Thank you for sharing.

  • Lisa Wood says:

    It sure brings up some interesting questions as I have one on my shoulder. Its a Rose and has hubby name under it. I am not sure if any of my sons want one – and I am not sure what I will do if they do ask?
    Interesting as I do like them – but my boys need to realise that they are going to be there forever.
    Cheers
    Lisa

  • natalie says:

    It sounds as though Lisa it does have special meaning for you and that is the point really. You may never have to deal with that with your sons – they are not for everyone. Thanks for commenting.

  • Mmm.. I don’t actually have a tattoo, but it’s not to say that I wouldn’t. About 5 years ago, my best friend and I (more like my soul sister) and I spoke about getting identical tattoos as a symbol of our deep and forever friendship. Before that, I hadn’t really considered one. She passed away a year later from bowel cancder, so in many ways I wish we had gotten them as a symbolism of our friendship and would feel in a way she was always with me. (even though I know she is and watches over me). 🙂

    My 19 year old daughter has 4 tattoos. (Surprised me with the first one!) as I would never have thought she would have gotten tattoos. But, they do have meaning to her – one is a Japanese symbol on her hip meaning fate/destiny, she then had roses added around that… her first one was a butterfly at the back of her hip (I used to call her my little butterfly when she was little, so for her this had meaning)… another is on her foot which is my initials and her dad’s initials. Apart from the one on her foot, the other three can be easily covered, which for some reason was my main concern. And the one on her foot is covered with closed in shoes for work (nursing).

    Since then, my eldest daughter, 21, who I would also never have pictured getting tattoos, although she is my “free spirit” child, got one on her wrist.. of a yin yang with bear foot prints in it.. for her this gave meaning too, as she is a huge animal lover and loves the yin yang symbol. I am hoping she doesn’t get anymore, but at 21, that’s not my choice but hers, so I can only hope she makes very wise decisions on where on her body she puts them and what they are of.

    Like you Madonna, the ad on TV makes me think about the choice of where on your body you would get one and not places that end up saggy and forlorn.

    I have to laugh as one of my girlfriends got a rose “bud” on her bottom when she was about 18… Now she is 44 – and she said the rosebud has “bloomed”!

    • natalie says:

      I think you are less likely to regret it when it has significance to you – unless of course it is the current boyfriend’s name or likeness 🙂

  • Buket says:

    Tattoos hurt less in areas where there is a bit more fat.It will hurt a bit more behind your ear than it did on your sholuder because there really isn’t a whole lot of fat back there.I’m assuming it’s going to be a smaller tattoo because of the area you’re wanting to get it done in, so even if it does hurt you, it won’t be too painful for long because it’s going to be small. I’ve got one behind my ear, and it was more of an annoying pain than anything. They are kinda loud, so that is the only thing it might be kinda annoying to you being right next to your ear. Try too keep it dry, the only thing I can think of is putting a thick layer of vaseline over it?Good luck with your decision

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