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.
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. (For what it's worth, in researching this issue I came across a recent statement from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, stating that Christians should not be offended by non-Christians wearing crosses.) 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, but there are consequences for every choice he makes.
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 when he gets inked.