September 30, 2010
Seeing her 18-year-old daughter Katie Pilot get a tattoo brought tears to Kristy Campbell's eyes. She held her teen's hand while her torso was inked, thinking the tattoo would "ruin her beautiful body," she says.
But she kept quiet. "I don't like tattoos and I totally judge people who have them. It's not my generation," says the Mill Valley, Calif., author and Web columnist. Yet she wanted to raise Katie to make independent decisions, and when her daughter reached the legal age of 18, Ms. Campbell helped her pick a licensed tattoo studio and reluctantly went along.
The best route for parents battling kids over tattoos is to "use it as a teachable moment," says Myrna Armstrong, a professor emerita of nursing at Texas Tech University and a longtime researcher on the topic. Nearly two in five, or 38%, of millennials, those 18 through 29, have at least one tattoo, compared with 32% of gen-Xers and 15% of baby boomers, says a Pew Research Center survey this year of 2,020 adults.