Have you ever seen a teenager smoking a cigarette? Likely the answer is yes.. What about smoking in front of their parents? I'm guessing the answer is no, but it happens a lot more than you think.
I started smoking cigarettes at age 16, and kept smoking until my son was about four years old. But none of this did I do with my parents' knowledge.
Eventually I was able to quit cold turkey (though I still miss it). Do you know why? Not because I was worried about cancer (though God knows I should have been). But when I found smoking hastened menopause by five years and was a big factor in adding wrinkles, THAT gave me the motivation I needed to stop for good.
When I see teens with cigarettes I think about what I would do if my son was smoking in front of me at age 15. I'm not about to judge other parents, knowing how hard it is to be one. But I know in my heart I would just not be able to live with a kid lighting up in front of me. I would have to do whatever I could and then some to stop him (or her).
I say this because of all the stuff I did, smoking has had the worst effect and I still don't know what will or won't show up in my body because of it. Some doctors also say it's a gateway to drugs and alcohol and that may be true; but what I most know about cigarettes is they are deadly and they are addictive. And once you start it's beyond crazy-horrible to quit.
And if you think e-cigarettes are no big deal and not as harmful, I've got a bridge I can sell you in my old neighborhood. Going cheap.
But if your kid is smoking... what to do?
All kids will try it. Some will like it. Some will stop.
I would probably keep nagging incessantly and not allow cigarettes in my house. Would that stop a teen as headstrong as I was? /Probably not, but at least it would convey profound disapproval. Which, I have decided as a parent, is not a bad thing.
It makes you unpopular, unhip, uncool and whatever, But at least it gives your kid some kind of compass he or she can use to measure the ethics of what he or she is doing. Uncool as it is, I believe that's our job as mothers and fathers.
Succeed or fail, at least you're trying. And in the end, that's all you can do.
For more thoughts on kids and smoking, I found a few links:
Why Kids Start Smoking
Tips for Talking to Kids About Smoking
What's the Deal with Kids Who Smoke?
Photo of young man: Dustin Moore