Ink Stain

28 Aug

Letterbalm Woman with Dragon TattooDear LetterBalm: My daughter will be a junior in college. She was working this summer in the city where her school is located. She came home last week for a brief visit, and while she was sunning herself in the backyard, I saw that she had an enormous tattoo across her back. It’s a big dragon with all kinds of embellishments. I got very upset and told her she had made a big mistake – the tattoo may look good now, but it won’t be good on old skin when she’s 50. We got into a big fight. I said employers won’t want to hire her, that a tattoo sends the wrong message. My daughter packed up and went to stay at a friend’s house and went back to school early. Now, she’s not speaking to me. I realize I overreacted (but I still hate tattoos). What do I say?

–Tattoo-Averse

Ms. L.B. expects that tattoo removal services will proliferate as people regret their body-art decisions, but she’s fascinated by tattoos and would probably be an admirer of your daughter’s. They can be exquisite. Maybe tattoos on older skin aren’t so beautiful – more a product of age than the design itself. And, maybe laser treatments to remove them are expensive. But tattoos are a fact of life today. And, unless your daughter is planning to work in the nude or in apparel that exposes her ink, her tattoo is her business. (And, if she over-tattoos, the consequences are hers to handle.) You might send her flowers. Write or e-mail her a simple note, too:

Frieda,

I apologize for my bad behavior – I overreacted at seeing your tattoo and didn’t consider your feelings. You’re a grown woman, capable of making your own decisions, and I will try my hardest to respect that. From now on, I’ll try talking, not yelling. I hope you can forgive me and understand that I was acting like a protective mother who is very proud of her daughter but sometimes clumsy at showing it.

Love,                                                                                                                                                           Mom

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