DEAR ABBY: My 22-year-old son is going to visit his father and get his third tattoo. I don't like it, but I can't control my son. He's an adult. His father is retired and lives on his wife's pension. It is my understanding that they are wealthy.
My concern is for our 14-year-old daughter. My ex thinks tattoos are cool, and when he talks to her via Skype, he talks about the next tattoo he is going to get. I'm afraid that when she's 18, he will take her to get a tattoo as a bonding experience.
His life is far removed from my daughter's. He is surrounded by actors, entertainers and artists. Our child (hopefully) will have a rich, abundant life in an ordinary way. She is focused on her studies and does well in school because of her efforts. How can I impress upon my not-so-confident, shy child that getting a tattoo is not a good idea? -- MARY IN MISSOURI
DEAR MARY: Discouraging your daughter from getting a tattoo should be part of an ongoing conversation. Explain that -- unlike makeup or temporary tats -- the real thing is permanent. Once it's on, there is no going back. It will be there for the rest of her life unless she has it professionally removed. Point out that tattoo removal is not only expensive, but also painful, and her skin will not look the way it did before she got inked -- she will be scarred.
Hopefully, it may make her less susceptible to "bonding" with her father in that way. Ultimately, however, when she's 18 and an adult, she will make her own decision about getting tattooed or remaining ink-free.
DEAR ABBY: My brother and sister-in-law have four children, ages 11, 10, 4 and 3. They are financially strapped and can't afford to take the children to entertainment or cultural events because every dime is spent for essentials.
I'm financially stable and childless. I take the older children to various activities once every month or so. I don't include the younger ones because they are unruly. I feel somewhat guilty for not including them. However, I want to continue doing it for the older children so they'll be exposed to various events they couldn't see otherwise.
Am I wrong for not wanting to be responsible for the younger children, or should I stop taking any of them out to be fair? -- TRYING MY BEST IN THE SOUTH
DEAR TRYING: Explain to the parents, if you haven't already, that you would love to include the younger children, but that you are unable to because of their unruly behavior, which you are unable to control. What you're doing is not "unfair"; it is wise. If you were to take all four and not be able to control them, one of the little ones could be seriously injured.
Think of some other way you can make the younger children feel special. Perhaps taking them to a park occasionally would make them feel less left out.
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