It was several years ago that I had the opportunity to meet Ryan Dobson. Ryan is Jim Dobson’s son–that’s Jim Dobson of Focus on the Family. I’ve listened to Focus on the Family radio for years and felt mentored by Dr. Dobson as a parent over the years.
I stood in line to get Ryan’s new book that he’d written to encourage teenagers in their faith. When I was almost to the front of the line I took a double-take. This pierced and tattooed young man did not look like anything I would have expected Dr. Dobson’s son to look like. He was dressed in leather motorcycle clothing with tattoos up his arms and big holes in his ears. But there was no mistaking it…this guy loved Jesus.
That experience was eye-opening to me. I had to come to grips with my own stereotypes. I also had to begin thinking about this stuff as a parent.
I believe it was Anne’s junior or senior year when she called home on a high school choir trip to New York. “Hey mom, I’ve got a question for you,” she began. “Would it be ok if I got my nose pierced?” I think I about choked on the ice tea I was drinking. I told her that no it wouldn’t be ok for her to get her nose pierced. According to her, everyone was doing it as a momento of the trip. Our answer was no.
It was shortly after that when Evan began to ask to get his ear pierced. He was a freshman in high school I believe. We told him no, but his request was sincere. We finally realized we needed a plan for answering these questions. There were several other siblings to follow!
Mark and I finally determined that Evan could get his ear pierced when he turned 16. He waited the two years and then asked for that for his 16th birthday. I personally took him to get his ear pierced.
About that time tattoos were becoming more popular. We had to determine a plan for that question and decided that the kids have to be 18 and pay for it with their own money. Evan got his first tattoo his freshman year of college and his second about a year ago when he was 20. Both of his tattoos express his faith in some way.
The day Erica turned 18 she scheduled her tattoo appointment—designed by her artistic self, of course! Hers is based on 1 Corinthians 13 and simply states “Love never fails.”
So what am I trying to communicate here? Simply this: you better have a plan. Tattoos, piercings, cell phones, curfews, earrings….discuss it with your spouse and come to some agreement so that you have an answer when they ask.
Because they will ask.
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I appreciate you bringing up this subject about our teens and you are right on with your advise. I had to learn to not ‘major in the minors’ with my teens and we as moms really do have to figure out what is major and minor.
Our college son called me(at 19) and told me he had a surprise for me. Yes – it was a tatoo on his forearm. I’m so grateful I didn’t react in a huge, negative way when I saw it. When I asked him what it meant, he said: ‘mom – it’s Hebrew letters for the Bible verse: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’. And then he said: ‘And mom – I had them put it on my forearm so it would remind me EVERYDAY that that is how I want to live.” Thank you Lord that you teach us moms about YOU through our kids and that you answer our prayers in unique ways!! I am one blessed mother!!!
Thank you for those words of encouragement, Marlae. You’re right…our kids teach us so much and we have to learn not to “major in the minors.”
My boys (and this also includes my husband) don’t have ‘tats’…yet…but they talk about them a lot.Having worked in student ministry for 25 years, I have known the precious hearts of these pierced and tatted ones, but, I have to admit, it is oh so different when it comes to my own…sigh.
I love the post of the mom before me…who could argue with a son who wants to be reminded to love God with all his strength…wow.
Thanks for this blog. I used to think that getting tattoos was a Biblical no-no. Then once I actually researched it, I realized I was wrong – lol. My kids are 13 and 11, but I know hubby and I need to get a plan of action now.
When our (now 29yr old) daughter turned sixteen I took her and her friend down to get their belly button pierced. OUCH! She’s kept it all these years (even through her pregnancy).
Additionally when our (now 25yr old) daughter was a senior in high school I saw this beautiful dolphin tatoo on the small of her back. I just about went balistic but she assured me it was one of those temporary tatoos. A few months later she was injured during a softball game and had to be rushed to the emergency room. I noticed that the “temporary tatoo” still looked brand new. Sigh.
I think there has to be an age limit. I can’t stand to see an elementary school boy with his ear pierced. I think to myself, “If he has a pierced ear at age eight, what’s he going to be doing by the time he’s in high school?”
Thanks for the food for thought. I would have a tough time letting my young children do something, but as they grow I’ll need to let go and trust in what we’ve taught them.
I agree with the “age limit” on these kinds of things. Younger children need to learn to wait. They grow up fast enough as it is!
I just always wonder who they are trying to emulate. Actually, Leviticus 19:28 is the only place I have found tattoos mentioned and one is admonished NOT to do it, or cut yourselves….but then the verse above it talks about not cutting your hair on the sides of your heads!! It is all about the “why”…..These are lovely tattoo stories, but the fact remains, many, many young people are putting unbelievably horrid things on themselves…. Once they are out of your house, or 18 or 21 or whatever arbitrary age you choose, they will do as they wish….We just hope that the grace and truth that we have planted (or tried to plant) will become real in their relationship with the Lord.
I’ve had my tat for years. My oldest son has beautiful art work (yes, that is what tats are, when done well) and lots of it. He also has both ears pierced. At 44, he delights my heart–always has. As you know from reading Don’t Miss Your Kids!, there are so many more important things to “NO WAY” about than “accessories.” Making them wait is a good strategy. As one of my friends told her son, “If I’d let you get the tattoo you wanted the first time you asked, you’d have a tat of Speed Racer on your bicep.” GOOD JOB, Momma! As for me, TODAY IS THE DAY I’M GETTING PURPLE HAIR! If not now, when?!
Well, I’m sure he appreciated your willingness to let him have his ear shot through with a stud. Did you ever have second thoughts about letting him do it, by the way?
It’s the inward and spiritual that really count, right? (And for boys, getting their ear done is simply like a little rite of passage, right?)
“It was shortly after that when Evan began to ask to get his ear pierced. He was a freshman in high school I believe. We told him no, but his request was sincere. We finally realized we needed a plan for answering these questions. There were several other siblings to follow!
Mark and I finally determined that Evan could get his ear pierced when he turned 16. He waited the two years and then asked for that for his 16th birthday. I personally took him to get his ear pierced.”
Nope, I didn’t have second thoughts about the pierced ear. He didn’t either!
Why can't the youth of today express themselves through their outward walk with the Lord. The way in which they live each day for the Lord should be their testimony, not art on their body that can't be removed. Their bodies are a temple of God's to be respected.
In a tiny cliff-note testimony..I once was a juvenile delinquent, living on the streets outside of Chicago in-between hospital stints from alcohol issues and suicide attempts. After Jesus rescued me in my 20's, I am now in my mid 40's and a pastor's wife. In my 30's, I was a missionary. When I found all I'd been yearning for in Jesus and learned how empty the world was, I prayed to love what Jesus loved and hate what He hated.
Tattoos and piercings are a standard staple in the world and as common as clothing in every person I met in bars and at parties. My only issue, is that the Christian is called to be different, sanctified or "set apart." We're SUPPOSED to be different than the world. Why imitate what we once were? I now minister to many teens and college kids and don't make this a huge issue at all. But I do encourage them to learn their identity in Christ and be filled with His Abba love so that they learn how the Holy Spirit has "marked" them eternally. Jesus redeemed us and our life is no longer our own. Our body is now the incredible temple of the Holy Spirit. Not under law…but because of love…I want to care for it and not imitate the world. That's all.
What about the scripture in Leviticus 19:28 that states "You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you; I am the Lord". What are we to do with this scripture?
It's important to look at that verse in context. This passage in Leviticus, including the surrounding text, is specifically dealing with the pagan religious rituals of the people living around the Israelites. God’s desire is to set his people apart from other cultures. The focus here is prohibiting worldly, heathen worship and witchcraft. God forbids his holy people to engage in idolatrous, pagan worship and sorcery which imitates the heathens. He does this out of protection, because he knows this will lead them away from the one true God.
In verse 26 it also says "Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood," and verse 27, "Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards." Most Christians today eat non-kosher meats and get haircuts without participating in the forbidden worship of pagans. Back then these customs were associated with pagan rites and rituals. Today they are not.
I hope that helps!
So, any more ink (or ring) developments since you wrote the article?
Sometimes some ink or a ring are isolated events, but sometimes also the beginning of an avalanche…which you probably wouldn't welcome. I guess it's moderation that you advocate, right?