ask toni & josh

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 April, 2010, 12:00am

Dear Josh

I secretly had a tattoo done on my foot. My parents would freak if they saw it. We are going on a family holiday to The Maldives and my mum has brought me sandals. There is no way I can hide my tattoo.

Tattoos may be supposed to make you tough and manly, but I'm so scared of what my folks will say when they find out.


Dear Regretful

We all do stupid things that we hope nobody will find out about. It's part of growing up - unfortunately. It does teach us important lessons - if nothing else, we learn what not to repeat. I once had an unfortunate incident involving a college prank, superglue and my scalp that I'd rather not dwell on.

But when that stupid thing is also potentially dangerous - and in your case, illegal if you were under 18 when you had it done - sometimes coming clean is the best solution.

I'm afraid your parents - or at least your mum, females seem to be more observant - are extremely likely to find out what you've done if you're spending all that time on the beach. There's only so long a plaster will last when you're doing water sports. And if you fake an injury, requiring an ankle brace, one of your parents will want to check it out and take you to the doctor.

As painful as it might be, I think honesty is best policy here. Whether you do it before the trip or once you arrive really comes down to what you feel will be (marginally) better. Are your parents likely to cancel your plane ticket if you tell them before you go? Will they wait until after the trip to punish you?

It might be easier to tell one parent at a time, picking the one less likely to explode.

Just remember, however you reveal your secret, you're the one in the wrong, as far as your folks are concerned. So be apologetic and humble, accepting their anger, rather than defensive.

And take any punishment they dole out like a man.

An afterthought: I really hope you went somewhere clean and safe to get your tattoo. It's easy to get infected if a tattoo parlour isn't well-established and therefore properly run. If you did, it's probably worth letting your parents know. It probably won't stop them being mad at you, but at least they'll have one thing less to worry about.

Dear Toni

I've had long hair all my life because my parents think it suits me. Besides, they give me the money for the hair dresser. But I really think I'd look better with short hair. Should I just go for the chop? I'm 15!

Ready for change

Dear Rapunzel

On the grand scale of Things Kids Do That Parents Disapprove Of, this is low down (assuming, of course, you don't keep your hair long for religious reasons).

Parents often like their daughters to keep their hair long because it's 'girly' and 'youthful' - but it doesn't suit everyone. My parents were exactly the same - I had my first major lop at 15, but didn't get it shorter than my shoulders until I was nearly 21. And I haven't looked back since. So I say go for it. Hair will grow back. Sometimes kids actually do know best.