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What If My Son Wants a Tattoo?

As a doula, I pride myself on providing nonjudgmental support to my clients. I don't have to understand with their choices or choose to make those same choices for myself to support them in their choices that they are making for themselves.

But can I do the same with my children?

I was watching a show last night called "Born This Way". If you aren't familiar with this show on A&E, it showcases young adults with Down syndrome living their lives and striving for independence. In this particular episode, one of the young men wanted a tattoo. The neurotypical friends that he was with warned against it and suggested he call his mom to see what she thought. He called her and then told her that he had to do this, with or without her support, and I had a moment.

You see, my son has Down syndrome. He is only two, but what if one day he comes home and wants a tattoo. What if I think he's not making the best choice or that he doesn't understand that it's really permanent. What if his typical twin brother gets a tattoo and he wants one too?

Can I support him without judgment. Can I leave my judgments at the door and allow him to be the adult that he will be. He will be of legal age to get a tattoo. I wouldn't have the same concerns about his brother because I know that he would fully understand the choice he is making. Can I do the same with him?

There would be a part of me that wants to "save" him from making a mistake, all while striving to encourage independence and empower him to make his own choices.

Nonjudgmental support is far harder when it comes to the people closest to you, but to truly provide nonjudgemental support for my clients, I need to practice this at home with my sons. My clients do not need "saving" from their births. They are strong and capable of making their own decisions.

Ultimately this young man did not get a tattoo because he did not have enough money in his checking account, which his mom knew full well. The tattoo artist then offered to stencil the design on and told him that it would stay for a week or so. The young man, named Sean, walked away feeling proud of his stenciled on design and that he was able to make this decision on his own. He felt empowered. I only hope I can do the same for my son.

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