A conservative mother and her 5th grade daughter were at a fair. The daughter was wearing a relatively skimpy tank top which was low cut in the back. The daughter was off with her friends, and got a henna tatoo on her back above her tank top. When the mother saw the daughter’s tatoo, she was clearly surprised, embarrassed, and scandalized. She exclaimed daughter’s name, and then glanced around, to see who else was watching her daughter.
The issue here is that a relatively harmless thing, like a henna tatoo, was turned into an Issue. When we make a big deal out of a little thing, teenagers come to see our concerns as overprotecting and irrelevant. Then, when the the little things become big things, they don’t listen. As with toddlers, parents need to pick their battles with their teenagers.
As a mother (though few would call me conservative) I can understand this mother being uncomforable with her 5th grade daughter with the kind of tatoo shown in the picture. 5th grade is not yet adolescence and early sexuality is problematic in our culture. I agree that the mother’s reaction was also problematic, although if she was able to process her own discomfort and later talk to her daughter openly about her initial response, I don’t think it was deadly to the relationship. Fifth graders are often pushing limits and testing how soon they are allowed to become adloescents and parents are often pushing back and trying to maintain a few more years of childhood for their children. It is an understandable impass without a clear wrong/right answer/response.
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