My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

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My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

I discovered last night that my daughter has 4 homemade tattoos on her upper thighs. She did it a few months ago prior to attempting to suicide. She regrets marking her body.  I feel sick that she has done this to herself and upset that I didn't know and couldn't stop her. I even remember going to the art store to buy the black ink. I stupidly thought she was going to do a new style of painting/drawing. I think it is best to get laser treatment to remove them if possible, but she got very upset when I spoke to her about it. She does not want people to be judging her and is too embarrassed to have a stranger do it. I am also upset because the only way I can get my daughter to confide in me is to promise not to tell her Dad. I don't like keeping things from my husband but I cannot risk losing my daughter's trust.  How could she have repeatedly stuck needles into her skin and Mark her body? 

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hey @Worrisome, I can hear how distressed you are and sorry you've had so much coming to light recently. Teens are very good at hiding what they want from us, so please don't blame yourself for not knowing sooner. You guys are getting help, and you're doing all you can in moving forward now which is all you can ask of yourself. 

 

Are the tattoos very noticeable? It's a difficult one because tattoos are so permanent and that age and teenagers are unable to see the future consequences. I gave myself a small tattoo when I was 17 which is now barely visible, and I didn't think twice about it. Teens live in the moment. 

 

Laser treatment is apparently very painful and leaves scars, but I think still the only removal option unfortunately. Are the tattoos very dark and thick, and are they where she can hide them under shorts? For now she could use cover up makeup to hide them if they will be visible in the summer. 

 

I'm not sure about the psychology behind body marking or tattoos. As an adult I have had a few small tattoos done myself, but I only know I like the one's I have. I'd take a guess at the psychology being similar to why people like piercings - I'm curious though, so am going to look into it. I'll let you know what I find out. 

 

That's a really hard spot to be - between your daughter and your husband. Trust is so important and to have your daughter confiding in you is so important. I totally get that it's not sitting well with you keeping things from him. It would be hard not being able to discuss these things with him as well. I really feel for you. 

 

Have you looked into the free parent coaching ReachOut offers? I'll apologise now if you've been given the info previously, but here is the link again if you'd like to check it out. I think it could be really helpful for you and could give you practical strategies to use immediately. Does the coaching sounds like something you'd be interested in?

Community Manager

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hi @Worrisome, it must have been quite a shock seeing the tattoos. I know a few tattoo removal technicians, and from what I understand it doesn't cause scarring but it does hurt and can be quite expensive. Their whole business is based around helping people who have made regrettable decisions, so they aren't likely to be judgemental. It really is the only safe way of removing them, I'd caution her not to attempt any of the DIY methods found online as they'll be ineffectual at best, or cause burns and scarring at worst. 

 

You mentioned your daughter recently tried to hurt herself (just letting you know I've edited your post slightly to remove the particular method your daughter used, as per our community guidelines) For some people, including adults, the act of tattooing herself can be an expression of self harm. We have a comprehensive fact sheet on self-harm and teenagers that you may find helpful here.  

 

How are you holding up throughout all of this? 

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hey @Worrisome, I just wanted to check in and see how things are and how you're going with it all? 

Active scribe

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

@taokat,  thanks for asking.  I have decided to leave the tattoos for now.  I think it will serve as reminder to my daughter that actions have consequences.  This may sound a bit baths, but frankly I am tired of fixing things to make my daughter's life easier. There is no appreciation for all that I do.  I am spending a fortune on psychiatrist and psychiatrist fees. Buying clothes, getting her hair coloured and styled.  

She has been nagging me for months for nose and lip piercing which I don't want to do.  But she says she needs it to feel that she is showing her style and it will make her feel good about herself.  I just don't know if she is taking advantage of my fear that she will try to commit suicide again.  I only let her get her hair coloured black with blue streaks because of this.  I think she is wanting to look goth-emo.  She wears black nail polish and studded neck collars. Last time she had her hair coloured with pink streaks, she refused to go to school and tried to commit suicide.  Back to school next week and I am anxious, will her newly coloured hair cause the same issue? Surely getting face piercing will only compound this.  

I allowed her to get her ears pierced twice in the lobes and she pierced one ear another two times. She says pain is her friend.  She wants to do those terrible piercings that makes holes in the ear lobes.

I feel I have lost control as a parent as I feel I have to give her whatever she wants (clothes,hair,piercings ) as she tells me it effects the way she feels about herself.

 

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hey @Worrisome, thanks for checking back in with an update. I completely understand why you've decided to leave the tattoos for now. I think our kids need to learn there are some choices that can't be easily undone. It's hard as a parent to step back and let them learn some tough lessons, but better they learn as they are going, and while we're here to support them through. 

 

I hear what you're saying about giving in to your daughter because you're afraid of the repercussions. I used to walk around on eggshells around my daughter and I found it exhausting and disheartening as a mum too. I learned though that teens really need boudaries, even if they fight against them sometimes. During a time when things are already all over the place for them, they feel safe if they know where their boundaries are with us. It is scary at first, but I was surprised at how quickly my daughter settled in those boundaries I set. Consequences given lovingly are of real benefit to our teens. It sounds like you have compromised well on her ear piercings, but you really don't need to give in to your daughter's every request, especially if it raises concerns for you around her safety. 

 

Have you spoken with your daughter's psychiatrist about your concerns? 

 

 

Scribe

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

I just found out thatbmyndaughter tattooed herself last week— says she did this instead of self-harming (She has been self-harming on/off for a couple yrs). Ughhhhhh

Mod

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hey @Trickee1, thanks for posting here on ReachOut. I made some minor edits to your post as it breached the guideline about detailing self-harm behaviour. You can view the guidelines here. This seems to be a really unique situation that would be difficult to manage. Have you spoken to your daughter about the situation at hand?

If your children are in touch with any mental health professionals, there may be positive behaviours they can suggest as opposed to resorting to self-harm. Some can be drawing on your arm. I also understand about teens needing to express themselves @Worrisome and individual style can definitely be a way to do this. There still needs to be a limit and it depends on how comfortable you are and what the consequences may be... these things are often determined by other institutions like school and work. How have things been travelling?

Frequent scribe

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hi Trickee1

gosh, how badly?  I hope she didn't watch You Tube like my daughter did... Indian Ink - will be there forever I think.  You Tube teaches them so many bad things.  One day the tattoos will make my daughter depressed and then heaven help us.

My daughter was self-harming (she now has scars) but she has stop that in the last two weeks.  I think the combination of people asking her about the scars and the fact that she has made a new friend at school has help.  all the best to you and your daughter.

Community Manager

Re: My 13 year old daughter has tattooed herself

Hi @Nervous just a quick note I made a small edit to the wording in your post around self-harm. This can be such a challenging subject to write and read about so we just try to avoid discussing methods used. I also thought for everyone dealing with this issue I'd pop in some links, as I think knowledge is power and it can really help us to understand and manage when we have a loved one going through this.

 

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