Frankly, I'd like to see anybody under 21 get turned away. But in our society, where an 18 year old is granted the right to vote or can be sworn to the duty to defend our interests, it's not acceptable to refuse them service.
OK, so we're heros on that count. La-de-da for us.
I want to share a story with you from this past weekend. A positive story.
It's an account of two parents with a 14 year old daughter who had just recently lost her grandmother. The teen had drawn up a design on her own, and had got it into her head that that was how she wanted to memorialize her grandma's passing. Kind of sweet I guess, but at 14 getting this design committed to her skin forever was totally a bad idea.
So what did her parents do right? They brought her around to see the tattooists in our shop and in a low-key and subtle way, asked us to explain to her what our policy was, and why it was in place. There was no huffing or posturing. There was no trace of "You tell this girl what's what!!"
No. They came in with an air of respectfulness that allowed the young woman to retain her dignity, and by their demeanor, invited me to speak with her in the same way. I told her that she was a little too young for that commitment, and at the same time I acknowledged the seriousness of her loss and validated her feelings. I also told her that I'd be happy to see her in 4 years time, should she still want to get tattooed. I was able to explain to her some of the regrettable tattoos I had received myself....as old as into my mid 20's.
I told her that even an adult coming to me for a memorial tattoo would be asked to wait a while, to get some perspective on the grieving they were going through, just to see if such a permanent decision was coming from out of a good place in their heart and head.
I told her that I thought that any tattoo shop that would touch her before 18 years of age (consent or not), was probably not the kind of place she could trust to execute the job properly on any account.
The kid seemed to get it, and I think she took my advice on board with some serious consideration.
Once again, this story is not about how great we at the shop are for acting as the Tattoo Police. No. It's about her parents doing the right thing for their child, and doing it in a way that teaches, not punishes. In such a way that fosters communication, instead of building walls.
Good for them. Cheers to them. I was impressed.