Dear Ann Cannon • How do I handle friends who take it upon themselves to share my news with our mutual friends? I feel a level of resentment for them not allowing me to bear my own news. At the same time, does it matter if these people are my closest friends?
— Frustrated Friend
Dear Frustrated Friend • I don’t blame you for feeling resentful. In fact, I think most people in your situation would feel the exact same way. You’re not alone is what I’m saying. So, what can you do about it? My advice? You either need to say something (this is hard) or (and this is also hard) let it go.
Meanwhile, it’s perhaps useful to understand why friends take it upon themselves to share news that isn’t strictly their own. There are probably a variety of reasons. If it’s good news, then some of the behavior is driven by genuine excitement for you. And then there’s just the reality that we humans have a hard time sitting on news and keeping it to ourselves, especially when we know the parties involved, right? Either way, it’s frustrating. I hope you can arrive at a place where this isn’t a problem for you. Good luck!
So last week when a mother wrote asking how to deal with an adult daughter who wants to get a tattoo, I asked for your advice. I received this letter, which makes (I feel) a number of thoughtful points.
Dear Ole Mama • First of all, don’t tell her you don’t approve. She knows that. Don’t ask her why. The answer is probably “because I want to, Mom.” Don’t try to persuade her to get it in a place no one but her will see it.
Ask to see her design. If she’s willing to share it with you, ask her what it means to her. Most people choose their tattoos for personal reasons. It may have very deep meaning. If she chooses not to share with you, honor her choice. If she does open up, listen to what she has to say; you may learn something wonderful about your daughter. It may open lines of conversation you have never had before.
Ask her if she’s chosen an artist. If yes, see if you can look at some of the artist’s work. Offer your perspective on specific artistic or thematic points. Try to be positive; don’t just say, “That’s ugly.” Point out some designs you like and why you like them.
Help her research a studio with a good reputation for integrity, artistic quality, client safety and cleanliness. There are several in Salt Lake that have excellent reputations nationally.
Most artists ask you to bring in a drawing of what you want to consult before the actual visit. See if she’ll let you accompany her. Ask questions.
If the design she chooses is large or multicolored, gently remind her they hurt — a lot — especially if inked on a bony part of the body like an ankle or the back of the hand. Suggest she do something small and simple, that still conveys at least part of her meaning, the first time.
If you know other people with tattoos, talk to them. Try to look at this as artistic expression rather than something only sailors, motorcycle gang members, and “bad” girls do.
Quality tattoos are expensive. Be sure she is aware of the cost.
Ask her if she’s checked with her employer regarding standards for body art in her office.
You have a chance to support your daughter and build her trust in you. She asked your opinion; that’s a wonderful thing. Let her know her safety is your most important concern.