my son just came home with a tatoo

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-28-2011
my son just came home with a tatoo
Wed, 12-28-2011 - 8:01pm

I am so not equipped for this. First semester at college; failed 2 classes. Came home today with a tatoo. I don't think I'm going to make it 3 more weeks till he goes back to the dorm. HOW do parents DO THIS?!?!?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 12-28-2011 - 8:24pm

Hey how would you like it if it was your DD who got the tattoo?

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 12-29-2011 - 12:16am
I'm so with Music on this one. If he failed 2 classes, he's on academic probation. You need to discuss the consequences for that, as well as whether you can afford to send him back and have him throw away MORE of your money.
As for the tattoo, he's 18. It's perfectly legal. He can get it in the middle of his forehead, if he wants. However, here's hoping that in addition to previously having had discussions about the consequences for failing to make adequate academic progress, you've also previously discussed your feelings about tattoos, and the consequences for getting one.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2009
Thu, 12-29-2011 - 12:01pm

Several questions.

Was he a good student in high school and this is uncharacteristic behavior? Or was he a "so so" student who only did OK in high school because it was expected of him and not because he was interested in what he was learning?

Why did he go away to attend college? What he is studying? Did he go to college with a plan for the future or was it because "everyone else is" and it is expected?

And what courses did he fail? Were those courses he was not well prepared for? How did he do in the other 3?

The tatoo could be part & parcel of his behavior at college. If he is 18 and he paid for it himself, there is nothing you can say. But if he used your money to pay for it, while he was goofing off and did poorly at school, you have every right to be very upset. Explore options to improve his performance.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 12-29-2011 - 12:06pm

I would also like to point out that tattoos are not a big deal among young people--a lot of them have them and don't think it's anything unusual.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2009
Thu, 12-29-2011 - 1:47pm

What I wrote is the tat may be part of his wanting to fit in, to be a follower. I also suggested that she put the tat into prospective.

If he has done well in school, she probably would not even cared about the tat. Tats may be becoming more common but they are a phase, just like multiple ear piercings were several years ago. And like all trends, they come and go.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Thu, 12-29-2011 - 5:10pm

Like the others said, concentrate on whyever he got such poor grades, especially if you are paying the tuition, and try to let the tattoo go. I understand that its exasperating but as an adult he gets to do things like that. As long as he's not using the money intended for textbooks or something like that then there's not much that parents can do or say.

My ds came home for winter break of his freshman year with bad grades too (as I recall he failed at least one course). We wrote up a contract that from then on he needed to maintain a certain GPA or else he would have to reimburse us the tuition from any term with a lower GPA. He had to repay us for one term. I'll never know if it was the pain of handing over almost all of the money he earned at his summer job, or if he just grew up/got more serious/figured out how to self-manage. BTW, he is now working towards a PhD at a prestigious university so they CAN turn things around! Like someone else suggested, give him another semester to get it together. If he doesn't improve the university might kick him out, anyway.

As for the tattoo, you'll get used to it. My dd got her first one at 18. She's now almost 26 and has at least 13 of them and is already planning for the next one. There's one tattoo that I hate and a couple that I like but mostly I don't really notice them anymore.

I offer the words of advice that I used to hear when my kids were in Jr Hi and HS: will this matter in 6 months? in a year? in 5 years? The tattoo, probably not. The grades, yes, unless your ds does something about them. In the meantime, remember that "this too shall pass". Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-1999
Thu, 12-29-2011 - 10:54pm

I'm with most of the other posters - in 5 years the tattoo isn't going to matter much, but failing to make good use of the educational opportunities in front of him definitely will make a difference in where his life goes.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-1999
Sun, 01-01-2012 - 10:08pm
Hugs, it's not easy letting them go and accepting some of their choices. Im not a fan of tatoos either and I havent had that experience where the kids come home with a tatoo. Knock on wood. I think right now you have to pick your battles. If he didnt pass two classes, is he ready to go back to school? Some kids dont do well in school because they arent ready. Is he just going to school because everyone else is going or does he have a goal in mind? We've had our issues with each of the boys and they do start to grow up and make better decisions. When it gets tough, just remember some of the tough choices you had to make and your mistakes because we all had to grow up and all made bad choices...but we eventually learned!