Dear Dr. Wallace:
I’m 17 and will graduate from high school in a few months. I will be attending the University of California, Riverside, in September. For the last two years, I have wanted to get a tattoo of a butterfly on the back of my left shoulder. My parents didn’t want me to be tattooed, so I followed their wishes. But I told them that when I turned 18, I was going to have that butterfly. They are not happy with this decision, and it bothers me.
What can I do to impress upon them that in 2018, it’s no big deal for a girl to have a tattoo? I know it would be expensive to get a tattoo removed, but it could be removed someday if I wanted the butterfly to fly away, so it’s really no big deal, right?
— Brandi the Butterfly, Riverside, Calif.
Bradi Butterfly: I realize that tattoos are in vogue for older female teens and that many parents are not thrilled with this current trend. Since you are going to get that butterfly regardless of what your parents think, I’d assure them that it will be a single tattoo and that it will not often be seen unless you are in leisure clothes.
And if you do consider removal an option at some point in the future, keep in mind that the cost of removing a tattoo runs in the neighborhood of 10 times more than having the tattoo put on, and many say the pain of tattoo removal is 10 times the pain of original application.
Dear Dr. Wallace: I’m 16 and will soon be released from juvenile hall. I have spent 21 days in the hole for getting into a fistfight with my stepfather because of the way he was talking to my mother. I have to select where I want to live when I am discharged. I can return home or move in with my grandparents. Do you think I would be better off with my grandparents and away from the conflict that got me sent away in the first place? Yes, my father and I are both wiser from our unfortunate experience but both remain pretty set in our respective ways. What would you do if you were in my shoes?
— Juvie Hall,
Juvie Hall: I agree with your first impulse answer. Move in with your grandparents for the time being. This will provide you time for you to think about your future and how you will react if you do decide to return home at some point. Use the time with them to settle back into your school routine and do your utmost to wow your grandparents with consistent, respectful behavior. It should hopefully not be to hard for you, as most grandparents and grandchildren share a very special symbiotic bond. When you speak of your parents to your grandparents during this time, make only positive comments and stay calm at all times. I also suggest that you keep in close contact with your mother every few days while you are living with your grandparents. Perhaps, that will help you both to re-establish a good family environment that can precede your return to your parent’s home at some point.
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