Dear Amy: My 16-year-old son wants a tattoo, which I generally do not have a problem with.
However, he wants to have a cross tattooed on his arm. To him the cross symbolizes acceptance.
He is affiliated with no religion and has not had a Christian upbringing.
I think that a tattoo of such a sacred symbol for many people could seem disrespectful or even offensive to Christians. He and his mother think I am nuts.
What are your thoughts?
— Concerned father
Dear Concerned: Your son is correct — the cross is a powerful symbol, and one of the things it symbolizes is acceptance.
I can't imagine that sporting a cross tattoo would be offensive to Christians; only that it might inspire some assumptions and conversations that your son should prepare himself to have. Your son might be using this issue to convey his curiosity about Christianity; if so, I hope you will support his interest.
Your family's conversation about this is a good one, and part of it should also focus on the larger issue: When he reaches maturity, your son has a right to do just about whatever he wants with his own body.
You and your family should also research the laws and restrictions in your state regarding tattooing. At his age he will need parental consent and a parent to be present.
Dear Amy: The impressive aspect of the letter from "Confused," (written by a 12-year-old boy interested in converting to Judaism) is that he has spent time to study and understand the religion he has chosen.
This young man should be commended for reading and studying and then deciding what religion he wishes to believe. It does not sound like his parents will be very cooperative, but, really, they should be super proud!
— Jim in Paramus, N.J.
Dear Jim: I was also impressed by this boy's interest and determination to explore converting to Judaism.
I think it's somewhat common and developmentally appropriate for adolescents to think seriously about religion. This can lead to important and challenging questions. I didn't get the sense that "Confused's" strict Catholic parents would welcome his conversion, but he didn't sound easily deterred.
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