Moving from Old Fashioned to Openness
I recently had a conversation with my daughter about tattoos and piercings. She attempted to explain to me that tattoos and piercings are a matter of self-expression, individuality, and art. I talked with her about character, appearances and the possible effects of living with decisions that we may later regret. The more we talked, the more she labeled me as out of touch with the times. I found myself making sweeping generalizations, and my daughter called me closed-minded and old-fashioned. When did this happen? When did I become the generation that was "old-fashioned?" I've always thought of myself as open-minded, but I have to admit that there are a few things for which I hold restraint. I don't quite understand the commonplace way in which teens are now getting tattoos and body piercings. However, despite my resistance, I have begun to move towards a "harm-reduction" approach, meaning I have talked with my daughter about where she wants to place tattoos or piercings versus whether or not to get them. This has been remarkably challenging because I have had a visceral reaction to this. Ultimately, it boils down to fear. Fear of loss of control over what happens to her. Fear that I won't be able to protect her. I don't want her to miss out on future opportunities. But, this is where our work as parents lies. Can we hold the fear at bay, while finding ways to quiet it? Can we stretch beyond our comfort zones? Can we move to a more centered place? Can we make room for different kinds of conversations that affirm our teens, as we make clear our intentions and hopes for them? Parenting our teens brings great opportunities for our own learning. As challenging as it is, it is still an amazing honor. There is no more important job in the world.