Mother-Daughter Tattoos

punkMy sixteen-year-old daughter is the spiky haired, existentialist apple of my eye. She’s teeny tiny (it must skip generations) and is the cutest, punked-out kid you can imagine. What she lacks in size, she makes up for in style, opinion, and stubbornness. Oh, how I love this girl.

She’s lived with her dad for the past year now, so any influence I may have is just a faint whisper over a cell phone line. I disagree with a lot of my ex’s parenting style. He loves our kids, and overall, I think he’s a good father. But he believes that children are grown by the time they’re about fourteen, and he’s often much more on the par of benevolent buddy than actual father.

She came to see me a couple of weeks ago, boyfriend and boyfriend’s friend in tow. They were adorable– the boyfriend had just cut off his mohawk, and had this little stumpy strip of hair where he’s starting to grow it back- he was shy, polite and smart. His friend is chubby, outgoing, and just a great guy. And my daughter— her hair was short and died jet black (a new color- it was neon orange), her eyes were rimmed with kohl, and her nose double pierced with these ridiculous pointy things sticking out of each nostril. Her skirts were short and retro, and she looked like some kind of itty bitty anime cartoon. An elfin Siouxsie Sioux. Sighhhhhhhh…..

I am very proud of my kids. They’re intelligent, creative, well-read and kind-hearted. We were always a fairly unconventional family, but I must say that living with me versus living with their father is akin to the difference between living on the set of “One Day at a Time,” and “The Osbournes.”

ANYway…almost as soon as my daughter got here, she started in on a subject that she’s been harping on for a few conversations now. She began with her sweet little girl routine– big puppy eyes, arm around my shoulder. “Mommy?” Uh oh. “When are we going to get matching tattoos?”

I replied, “When I’m eighty and you’re fifty.”

“C’mon Mom– you told me when I was twelve that we should get matching tattoos.”

I sighed. “Did it ever occur to you that I am loony tunes? That I was just talking? Besides, I didn’t mean when you were sixteen.”

She then went on to tell me about her planned body art. How she’s coming up with symbols representing each member of her family. A red-winged blackbird for her dad, a japanese tree for her half-sister. She’s having trouble finding something meaningful to represent her brother, as all of the things he’s into don’t translate well to skin (A chess piece? A ping-pong paddle? A trumpet? All very uncool). As for me, she’s begging to do this mother-daughter tattoo thing. I’m staving her off until she’s at least eighteen. In the meantime, I doodled a temporary one on her hand. This seemed to make her happy for while, until she fell asleep with her hand against her face and ended up with an imprint of it on her cheek. Um….and I took a picture of it.

I may be typing calmly, but my hair stands on end when we have these conversations. I don’t want her using her body as a canvas until she’s at least old enough to fully understand the implications. Even though her dad says she’s an adult, I think she still has some growing up to do. In the meantime, I’ll be thinking of something that symbolizes my complicated relationship with my daughter. Something deep and meaningful, like this.

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38 thoughts on “Mother-Daughter Tattoos

  1. [...] of which part of her body she now wants to tattoo, pierce, coif, remodel, etc. She’s off the mother-daughter tattoo thing for now, and thankfully, she replaced the pointy black studs in her nostrils with some tiny, [...]

  2. stacey says:

    tattos are fine as long as they are tasteful and arew small ones and something that you can look at in thirty years time and it is still something that suits your age…….I have a small tattoo of a custom designed fairy on my back and its really cute its only small and just in the middle down the bottom. I like it and its a good spot for a tattoo because it is covered up and is there for yourself and is stil professional for work….If you want a tattoo think hard about it because you cant change your mind once its on cause it aint coming of!!!!!!!! Laugh Out Loud!!!

    That’s the problem– I don’t want to give my daughter the okay on something that she may regret later. She’ll have to make the tattoo decisions when she’s over eighteen. I’ve seen some beautiful ones, but I’ve also seen some that I know the owner of the skin has to be wishing they could undo, haven’t you?

  3. Lucky says:

    I have seven tats and you can’t see any of them. Well, two you can see if I am wearing flip flops or capri pants but anyway – I got the rest of them in places you can’t see so if I regret my choice when I am 60, no one will see it anyway. I started when I was 18 and 9 years later, I don’t regret any of them :)

  4. Lucky says:

    Oh…and the one you drew was cool! :)

  5. @ Lucky: I wish you’d post some of your tat pictures, or at least give descriptions. I love hearing the stories behind tattoos. It’s fascinating to learn why a certain design was chosen, what the occasion was, etc.

    Although I worked for hours on that design :p, here is what my daughter ended up getting:

  6. Lucky says:

    I’ve gotten one on or around my birthday almost every year since I was 18. Two years I couldn’t b/c I was broke.
    1st – butterfly, lower left back
    2nd – Celtic cross, mid lower back
    3rd – pisces symbol, right lower back
    4th – four leaf clover, front left hip
    5th – black sun, top of my right foot
    6th – a very cliche blue heart with a tribal type thing around it (The BFF was supposed to get a matching one but hasn’t “yet”)
    7th- my favorite!!! it’s a HUGE lily colored in like a lotus flower in the middle of my back. All those others took about 20 minutes…this one took an hour and 20 minutes. IT’S HUGE! (compared to my other ones) I have a pic of it at home-I will send it to you :) )

  7. @ Lucky: What a great birthday tradition! Thanks for the pics– I answered in the e-mail.

  8. sammijade says:

    I’m 17 right now and my mom let me get a tattoo last september but it’s a memorial for my grandparents. It’ on my lower back and it has three red rose buds (my nana, my papa, and i) and it has a banner weaving through them that says nana. Tommorrow I’m going to make an appointment to get another one. So far I want a guardian angel on my right should because i’ve gone through depression really bad and this past year i’ve tried to commit suicide twice and i was in a car accident that could have been really bad…but my guardian angel saved me =)

    but i can’t find an angel that looks like i want her too so i’m going to get two blue stars on the inside of my right wrist…it’s going to symbolize my mom and i. i grew up with it being just the two of us so we’ve always been really close…and they’re going to be blue because my mom and i always get compliments on our amazing blue eyes lol

    sammijade: A memorial for your grandparents is so sweet. You must have really loved them. The guardian angel and the stars sound great too. I really love hearing the stories behind people’s tattoos.

    I really hope you come back and read this comment. I want to mom you for a minute and give you a hug, and tell you not to EVER try to commit suicide again. As a now-middle-aged woman who has been through quite a bit (which you wouldn’t believe if you met me), and dealt with a lot of depression, I want to tell you that amazing turnarounds can take place in your life. You have no idea. It’s not always smooth, and it’s not always pleasant, but if you didn’t have the horrible, bad times, you wouldn’t be as grateful for the good ones, you know? And I promise you sammi, there will be many, many good ones. The trick is that when you get sucked into that black hole of depression, you have to hang on with all your might, and know that it won’t last forever. Things change. And how are you going to get to find out what great things could be in store for you if you don’t hang around.

    I’m sorry for the lecture, I really am. But I do care. We human beings are all in this together. When things get bad, you can always e-mail me, okay? I don’t care if you whine, rant, cry… your guardian angel and I are looking out for you ;)

  9. sammijade says:

    who haha the banner says nana papa…sorry typed to fast hehe

    LOL. I don’t grade on spelling. You wouldn’t believe some of my typos.

  10. Sunshyn says:

    I happened to come across your blog while looking for some ideas for my upcoming tat. I just wanted to say the being an avid ink junkie that I really enjoyed and agree with what you wrote. I too am going to be in your shoes in a couple of years. I proud to say I am a mother of 5 wonderful girls. They range from 7 (almost ) to 11 months. I am already running into the “when I grow up I am getting…” or “when can I get one?” Right now temp tats are doing the trick. Now the piercings are another thing. I have my tounge and nose pierced. With my ears pierced several times…I don’t mind them wanting piercings. As I explain to my parents piercings close up and heal over. That was/is the debate over if I should get my oldest ears pierced a second time. You can guess what side they are on. Anyways I will be looking for your new blogs from now on…very enjoyable!

    Sunshyn: I’m so glad you stopped by! I cannot imagine having five kids– two almost did me in! You sound like a great mom though. I view it the same way you do when it comes to my daughter and ink– I just want her to wait until she’s old enough to really know what she wants (Oops! Too late! She did it anyway). The piercings I can deal with– it’s almost like a compromise. I want to hear from you in about ten years, to hear how many gray hairs you’ve gotten over this debate!

    It’s so hilarious. I remember wanting my ears pierced, and it being the biggest deal in the world.

  11. Anna says:

    Well, I find it extraordinarily interesting

  12. amandzing says:

    i have two and paid for both of my sons first tattoo’s…when they turned eighteen. good for you.

  13. Ilonka-Chan says:

    Hey I’ll be getting a lotus flower on the small of my back to represent the dark past I had.

    I’m 21 now and I think this would be a perfect first tattoo. I was into drugs, homeless and struggling through suicide. and tried a few attempts and failed. I’m glad I did cause it allowed me to meet a special guy, however we are now broken up and I’m fighting to not slip back into that same situation. I figure that a lotus flower would be perfect. when it’s a seed and deep in the muck of the bottom of a pond it grows and blossoms into a beautiful thing. Which represents my life starting over and blooming into something better.

    My next tattoo will be angelic wings that will go from the upper middle of my back and expended out over my shoulders. I’ll have the cursive scrip “Live Life” between the wings to remind myself to Live life to it’s fullest and experience everything life throws at me and conquer it.

  14. ANONIM says:

    I dont have any tatoos and i dont have planned anyone yet…if im doing something like that stuff is another earring in my ear

  15. Thanks to all who post comments here. I LOVE reading everyone’s opinions, and about all of your tattoos and piercings, both current and planned.

  16. [...] summer more and more young girls put the push on for getting tattoos.  Their mothers, usually, were not [...]

  17. lbk526 says:

    i have 5 tats a dreamcatcher on my lower left pelvic area to represent my cherokee heritage,unicorn on my left hip to remeber there still are mysteries in life, a turtle dove on my left shuolder (matching my husband) since we are apart alot,his name on my left ankle and a cross with wings and a yellow ribbon on my left wrist to remind me that god has his angels prtecting my husband and all of the soldiers(he serves in the army) and i plan on getting a large back piece of an angel and alot of details to many to list, also plan on getting a full leg done of a very detailed ocean scene as i am a floridian grew up diving etc, tattoos are great just put ALOT of thought into and really really check into the parlor you go to and the artist,i made the mistake of taking someones word on where to go and didn’t bother to see his work on someone,now i am having to look into getting my unicorn FULLY redone it looks good until you really look at it then you see all of his mistakes.also i wanted to say i think it is great of you making her wait till she is 18,i thank god every day my parents didn’t let me cause who knows what i would have on my body probably winnie the pooh HAHAHA! alot of parents these days want to be their kids friends and not their parent,kudos to you!she will appreciate it one day and the mother daughter thing is a awesome idea i wish i could get my mom to do that!

  18. jessica says:

    I came across this blog when i was looking a design for my second tattoo and i have to say thats the nicest thing i’ve ever heard i would LOVE to have a matching tattoo with my mother but shes against all that very tattoos no pierceings in places that are “odd” so when i got mine she had this look of disgust on her so thats really beautiful that you are both planning on getting matching ones..

  19. [...] daughter wants me to design a tattoo for her while I’m there. A year ago, I would have been mortified by such a request; now I feel kind of [...]

  20. Ash says:

    Well, I got my first tattoo when I just turned 15 . With my mum at my side, the tattoo was designed by one of my old boyfriends. It’s really no big deal. If it is later on, you could always get it removed or buy some tattoo cover up.


  21. Chelsea says:

    I’m 16 years old, and me and my boyfriend have been together for almost 5 years, and our parents let us get matching tattoos on our wrists of interlocking hearts.

    Mhmm :)
    I currently have 2 tattoos, and I plan on getting many more.
    It’s all a way of self-expressing.

    left wrist

    right shin

    Now, my moms telling me to stop with the piercings and get more tattoos. aha
    And when I was ten, she wouldn’t even let me wear a skull!

  22. Jackie says:

    i’m 28, and i have 7 tatoos. i got my first one when i was 15. it was a line to a song that meant a lot to me at the time. i dont regret any of them, because they all represent what i was and what i was going through at the age i got them. so they all represent a part of me, whether its a part thats been or a part that still is.

  23. Cheryl says:

    I just stumbled upon this blog while trying to get ideas for my first tattoo. I’m 21 and my nana was diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer last February. She is still fighting through it and has made it longer than the doctors thought she would, but we all know her time is limited now. I’m planning on my first tattoo which will be my grandparents wedding song, “Unforgettable”. I have also decided to get angel wings surrounding the word, the only thing i’m unsure of is the placement. I originally wanted it on the left side of my lower back, but I think it would look silly with one wing reaching around my hip and the other toward the middle of my back. SO i’ve been thinking of getting it in the middle of my lower back, but do I want a “tramp stamp”. What are your thoughts on this?? I did think of upper back with the wings on my shoulder blades, but when I get married some day I don’t think i’ll want my ink showing =/

    Ohh&& I love love love your design for the matching tattoo…my mom had me really young and were really close, so my second tattoo I want her to get a matching one with me =)

    Cheryl, I think your tattoo design (and the meaning behind it) sounds beautiful. I can’t tell you where to place it, but my daughter got one on her shoulder blade and it actually looks very nice there.
    Did you know that there are kits for brides that allow you to cover tattoos on your wedding day?

    Hugs to you and your Nana. How lucky she is to have you!

  24. Vinessa says:


  25. edub713 says:

    I came across this blog while I was searching for a tattoo design for the celtic tree of life. I’m very much Irish and have been looking for a new tattoo related to that. I already have a celtic cross on my lower back. I have a total of 6 tattoos right now, I’m 24, started when I was 17. My first was my chinese character meaning “friends” that I got with my best friend. Since then I’ve gotten the cross, some “pisces” fish on my shoulder blade, a hummingbird on my foot and my most recent and most meaningful to me are the ones on my wrists. I have the first initials of mine and my two little brothers names on my left wrist and the words “mea familia, vita mea” which is latin for my family, my life.

    I have actually been bugging my mom, too for the past, oh 7 years, to get a matching tattoo with me. She’s too chicken to do it, but I’m convinced that one day I will have done enough bugging where she will cave in! I don’t have anything in mind for that one yet but I’m thinking something small!! I have a few tattoo ideas in the works and my next one is going to be my largest yet. It will be daffodils and morning glories entwined starting on my right shoulder blade and twisting down my right side to my hip. This one also has a ton of meaning. A few months back I was thinking that if my mom absolutely did not want to get a tattoo then I’d just get something for me and her both. I proceeded to call her and ask her what her favorite flower was (I had an idea but I had forgotten, lol) Anyway, she told me and then asked why. I told her I was going to get the tattoo of the flowers – her favorite and my favorite – and I think she was pretty moved by the idea.

    Anyway, I’m pretty excited about that one and i’m just waiting for the final drawing to be done. I will definitely post up some pics when I eventually get it – hopefully VERY soon!! I enjoyed reading about your experiences with your daughter and her red winged black bird is beautiful. Can’t wait to see more!

    What a beautiful idea for a mother-daughter tattoo!! Maybe one day, your mom will get the same one (but I’m betting it will be a much smaller version!). If you do post pictures, please stop back by and put the link here. I’d love to see them (and your other tattoos as well- they sound lovely).

  26. Jackie # 2 says:

    Wowsers, this page is just so real. The best I have read. My child is about to turn 18.
    We lost her Dad in a fatal car accident not even 2 years ago.Had services for him 1 day before her supposed sweet 16. She is getting 1 tattoo of her Dad & also 1 of US. Mother-daughter. I have been thinking, no I should say racking
    my brain to explain the trials, the pain, and can i say the changes we have been,(&will continue) to go thru. She is the most beautful girl, & her spirit is breathe-taking, The love she has for her 7 year old baby sister, which was her daddy’s Baby, so to speak, and has been what kept me going. She tried to commit suicide, the whole works, she is my hero, she is MY baby. I need the BEST tattoo, to best describe her and I. I can truley say she LOVES with BOTH eyes open.

  27. miayla says:

    i want my mom to get a tattoo with me and now she is.

  28. katie says:

    I have a tattoo on my foot which consists of 7 stars and my mother has the middle one on her chest. it is hidden where her bra will cover it but my aunt did them. It means a lot to me! And she went with me to get my second tattoo which is a paisley piece on my left back shoulder. She loved it… She goes with me everytime now and has something to say about all of my new ideas. I am so glad my mom was understanding and now we will always have a little connection nobody else will ever have. My aunt promised she would never do another tattoo like that!

  29. "Chuck G" says:

    Angel Wing Tattoo Designs are one of the most beautiful tattoos a person can have. They are also one of the most popular tattoos on the market. Not only because it represents prayer, but because of the meaning behind angel wing tattoos.

  30. Sonia Keys says:

    Tattoos are very cool, i have a full dragon sleeve and angel wings on my back and i love them i plan on getting loads more in the near future.

  31. Jacqui says:

    I came across your blog while looking up pictures of monroe piercings, and I started lurking on your blog. I find you really funny, and as I’m the same age as your daughter, I think it would be fantastic having you as a mum.

    Thought I’d let you know.

  32. Jacqui, I’m so glad you lurked! Thank you for your beautiful comments.

    Note: Did you read that my daughter is having a baby? I’m going to be a grandmother tomorrow!

  33. Alan says:

    Great idea. My wife got her first tattoos at age 52, I got my first at age 61 and she got her 3rd at age 57. Except for one, they’re in places that we only will see. Perhaps the world will have changed when the teenagers of today grow up to run things, but, for the most part, large and visible tattoos still can be a negative factor in hiring for professional occupations. So can facial piercings. I’m a business professional who works out of home. I have pierced ears, but I wear no earrings when I meet with clients.

    Wow, Alan. Very cool. I’m glad you shared this, and that you stopped by. Would love to know what your tattoos are of.

  34. Julie says:

    I love the idea of matching mother-daughter tattoos! I want to get one with my mom, but she’s too chicken. She wants to get flowers on the back of our necks, but she is too afraid of the pain. We’ll see if she goes through with it. I really wish she would, because for a while it was just me, her, and my sister. She was a single mom and went through so much to raise me & my sister and I really want something that symbolizes how close we are.

    I’m also a mother and trying to think of ideas for a tattoo to get for my daughter. I have a celtic knot on my foot, but having trouble coming up with a design to symbolize how much I love my daughter & enjoy being her mommy :)

    How lovely, Julie! I hope your mom does it. My daughter and I haven’t yet, but you’ve kind of inspired me to start thinking seriously about designs that we could both do. She’s had a baby since I wrote this- maybe one day, we’ll have mother-daughter-granddaughter tattoos! Keep me posted, please.

  35. Katie says:

    My daughter is going away to a college 7 hours away in the fall. I would like us to get tattoos that symbolize our relationship, which is quite close. She’s amazing kid. Have thought of Chinese Symbols for Mother-Daughter, birth months flowers, etc. Looking for something unique. Any ideas of what to think about when thinking of unigue ideas that relate to us?

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