Apparently, people find it shocking that heavily tattooed people make babies. For the past 12 years I have been heavily tattooed. Heavily meaning, I have full sleeves, each side of my neck, the tops of my hands, my knuckles, and other body parts tattooed. I’ve heard just about every snide comment that one hears when they are heavily tattooed, but nothing would prepare me for the judgment I would receive when I became a mother.
The day I realized I wasn’t going to fit in with other local moms is the day children were being dragged away from my daughter at the local park. As soon as two moms got a good look at me, they literally grabbed their kids and took them to a different area of the park. My daughter, not realizing what was happening, followed them and watched as they were dragged away for the second time. I think at that moment, my heart broke into a million pieces. I had come to terms that I would get stared at, pointed at, and made assumptions about, but I was no where near prepared for the segregation my children would endure.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of people in our society who make bold judgments that people who are heavily tattooed do not make good parents. In my opinion that is just as awful as saying someone is an inadequate parent due to their race, religious beliefs, or sexual preference.
On the message board at Nickelodeon’s Parents Connect, a member responded to a discussion regarding tattoos with the statement, “to be honest, I think being cover in tattoos looks a little… trashy. I think a few sentimental tattoos are ok. ones that can be hidden if wanted. but I never think it looks good to be covered with them. and I find myself wondering what else is missing in this persons life, to make them need to do that to themselves? what are they really trying to cover up?” This derogatory outlook about tattoos is common and can be very stressful for a parent trying to live a normal life with their family. As much as people think tattoos are done for attention, they are extremely personal and meaningful to the person that wears the body art.
Being an alternative parent can be a difficult path to walk but not impossible. First, you need to be comfortable in your own skin. Always choose your battles wisely. What is worth becoming upset over? Remember, the people who are judging you are expecting you to act in an immature and out of control manor, doing the opposite is helping to break the stigmas that are attached to being heavily tattooed. Finally, do not forget that children see and hear much more than we give them credit for. Your children are aware of how people are treating you, how they are being treated, and how you react to that treatment.
While I have informed you of the negative side of being a heavily tattooed parent, I do not at all recommend for anyone to be discouraged by this. Being proud of who you are and raising wonderful children in our society is a huge accomplishment. I commend those of you who proudly stand out. Here are some helpful words of advice to assist alternative parents with interacting in their community with their children.
Join a Moms Group
There are a many alternative families across the nation. By spending a little time online, you can easily find a local group of moms who have similar interests as yourself. Try the website Meetup. It allows you to search for groups in your area by topic or interest. If you are unable to locate a group, consider organizing your own Meetup. If you feel comfortable to join a moms group that isn’t focused on alternative parenting, go for it! Being involved within your community in a productive way can help shed light that heavily tattooed people can be good, honest, and upstanding citizens of society.
Communicate With Your Child
Younger children may not be phased by the segregation that can happen when you are part of an alternative family, but older children will definitely notice the treatment. Talk openly and honest about how your family is just like everyone else except for your physical appearance. Explain that even though tattoos are not unusual for your family, they may be for other families. Make sure your child understands that people will stare out of curiosity.
You may also want to discuss with your child how tattoos change your outward appearance, but it doesn’t change people on the inside. Explain that even though some people may not understand why people get heavily tattooed, we are all human beings with feelings and should treat each other respectfully.
Nickelodeon Parents Connect