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What do you think? Parent buying teen cigarettes

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Dh and I have been discussing the parenting choices of someone we know trying to dissect what we would do/what we think. I would like some additional input just to help us evaluate our philosophy and develop our future approach.

Basically the teen in question is a bit of a wild child. Somewhat manipulative. Still lying quit a bit (to me even as they visited us for the summer last year).

So I guess they started smoking. Mom has the philosophy of 'if I buy them cigarettes then I can ration it/control it and they won't smoke anyplace else.'

The parents are buying their teen cigs (the teen doesn't have to pay for them at all) and giving them 2 a day and thinking that's all their child smokes. Does this seem like a good plan to you?

Honestly, DH and I are really kind of WTF about it and it has prompted some really good conversation between us about how we want to handle this kind of stuff. But if there is a valid reason for this kind of parenting approach, I would like to understand it.

To us, smoking is not something we would enable or tolerate in a child under 18. Also, having seen the lying/manipulative behavior, we doubt this teen is just smoking 2 cigs a day.

I know the parents are really challenged and exasperated with this teen and I am sort of terrified of the 'what if DD does this'. Their feeling is if they come down hard, it just shuts down all communication. Our feeling is no one needs help forming an addiction and that there are other things that could be done (i.e. no license or driving lessons while smoking (this teen is desperate to drive and get a car), talking to smokers with health problems etc...)

So what do you think? Are there any circumstances where you would buy your teen cigarettes? What are we missing?

post #2 of 25
I don't have a teen, but I was one not all that long ago.

I had a friend in middle school whose mother smoked, and her mom took her outside once and made her smoke 3 cigarettes in a row. She thought that it would gross her out and make her so sick that she'd never smoke again. Less than a year later, my friend snuck some of her mom's cigarettes and we smoked outside together.

My friend wasn't repelled by cigarettes like her mom thought she'd be. Nor was I, when I knew my mom would have killed me if she'd found out.

My other best friend started smoking with me, too, and when her mom found out she would give her one once in a while so they could smoke outside together. It was part of their "girl" thing...trying to be best friends or something.

None of the three of us smoke any longer. I don't think our parents had anything to do with us smoking or not smoking. But I do think that if my mom had bought them for me, I might have been less interested, definitely not more interested, in smoking. For me it was the thrill of getting caught or at least doing something I knew I wasn't supposed to.

This may be off topic. So to get back to it, my short answer is that I would NEVER buy cigarettes for my kids. It's not where I want my money to go, it's not something I want to support (my kids hurting their bodies), etc. But I don't think I'll force them to hide it if they do smoke. I respect that as their decision, not mine, to make. I will hope that they don't, but that would be hypocritical to be too upset by it.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
I like your philosophy.

One of the concerns we have is I am an asthmatic and cigarettes are a trigger. Not just the smoke, but the accumulated smell in clothing and on skin too. I worry what we would do if DD decided to pursue rebellion with smoking b/c it has real immediate health consequences for me.

So in theory I would let her do what she needed to do but since smoking hurts me, I can't do it in practice kwim?

post #4 of 25
On the one hand, I am totally anti-smoking. Cigarettes have caused major health issues, and almost death, in a close family member, so I feel really strongly about this.

I do want to say, however, that I can appreciate that the parents are concerned about coming down hard and losing communication. Of course it seems silly-their teen can smoke many other places, so the two cigarettes are most likely not the end of the story. But I get, because I have seen other parents in this situation, wanting to feel either involved with, or as if you could control the choices your teen makes. It doesn't really work out that way most of the time, esp. when the choices aren't positive.
post #5 of 25
My parents started buying cigarettes for me when I was underage. They didn't smoke, hated cigarettes, and hated the fact that I smoked. I never even knew an adult who smoked as a child. I manipulated my parents into thinking it was okay. I was a really out of control, manipulative, crazy teen who knew how to work her parents. I don't think it kept our relationship open or helped it in any way. I just thought it was cool that I didn't have to get my older friends to buy me smokes.

I smoked until last year (except when pregnant) and really, really, really struggled with quitting.

I would not buy my children cigarettes and would not support them smoking in any way. If my child chose to smoke as a teen, I would do everything I could to discourage it. The only ways that I think might have actually worked with me would have been to limit my exposure to cigarettes and limit my funds to buy them. I'm not sure how I would do that with a teenager though.....
post #6 of 25
Nope, I wouldn't do that.
post #7 of 25
No, never.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you for all the thoughts. It is reassuring to hear that DH and I are not alone---we really felt like we needed to re-evaluate our parenting values after talking to this teen's mom. The cognitive dissonance was huge for us.

I feel for this mom and this teen. I think they're all having a hard time and we're all holding our breath and hoping this teen pulls through in halfway decent shape. They're into a lot of risky behavior.

post #9 of 25
My sister & her husband buy cigarettes for thier oldest DD who is 16. They both smoke too. The whole family was shocked to learn this at the Christmas party when she went out w/ the other smokers. My sister said, "Oh, it's OK, ot that big of a deal". The DD is spoiled rotten; she has a truck when my sister doesn't even have a car. She's failing in school. She knows no boundaries or consequences. I bet in a year or two she'll be knocked up.

So, no, I'd NEVER buy my underage child cigarettes. It's not any different than buying a minor alcohol; they are both drugs, even if one isn't as potent as the other.
post #10 of 25
I picked up smoking as a teen because it was supposed to be a way to lose weight. I wasn't even overweight, but when you're a teenager, body image is everything. My father smoked, and I do believe seeing your parents smoke makes you think "if they can do, it must be ok." Everyone's different, of course. My parents never bought me cigarettes, and I don't know anything they could've done to make me not smoke either... Once I was having the "occasional" cig which you can bum off a lot of people...you don't even have to buy them, then you find a lot of other people who smoke, and it becomes a very social thing. Quitting cigarettes isn't just hard because of the physical addiction, but the social aspect. The cigarette you have with coffee with your friends, the cigarette you have after sex, the cigarette you bum off the cute guy in the club you want to talk to. When I quit (and I did more than once), I really had to cut off all the people I knew that smoked...It is extremely difficult to even see a movie with someone enjoying a smoke (or it used to be). I finally totally quit when I saw my father dying from cancer. Not sure if the cancer was because of the smoking or not, but for the first time, I saw that life isn't a "given" and that everything you do against your health may result in death. I did start smoking again for a short time when I was in Indonesia, partly because *everyone* (except the women) smokes.

So, given my background with smoking, I would NEVER buy cigarettes for my kid. NEVER. To some degree, I think most teens are manipulative or lie...because there's a struggle between having independence and getting your parents off your back. My parents were extremely overprotective and tried to shelter me to the nth degree. So, if my ds grows up and starts smoking, what would I do? First, never encourage or buy him cigarettes. Second, I'd want to know who he's friends with because that's probably where the encouragement is coming from (and getting to know your kid's friends is something one should be doing all along, not just when they get in trouble). Thirdly, (and again all along from early childhood), I'd talk to them about the consequences of smoking and show them people who die from smoking related illnesses. Not in order to scare them, but I think kids need to be exposed to realities of life. I think parents try so hard to shelter their kids from anything "bad" in life, that when the kids are teenagers, it's too late to really show them that everything has its consequences. When one's a teenager, you don't believe your parents, and you think you're invincible. Also, I have another idea that's been floating around, is that teens today don't have "real" ways to prove themselves like hunting down a lion, so they create dangers for themselves like drunk driving or smoking or drugs, because they *need* to prove their "adultness" to themselves and their friends. So, fourthly, I'd probably think of a way for my kids to prove themselves in a more positive way....not sure what yet...but something that would be challenging and worthwhile.
And if after all that, my kid still ends up smoking, then I would just hope that one day he'd quit before it affected his health too much. I don't know that you can always control the choices your kids make.
post #11 of 25
Cigarettes killed my mother and my kids know this. She had chronic blood clots and while we have not been tested, there is a chance we may be prone to them as well. Between cigarettes and birth control pills, my mother was bedridden from the age of 36 on. I am 40 now and cannot fathom that. Anyway, I would never in a million years buy my kids something that could affect their health so negatively. To me that is borderline abuse. Why would I eat so carefully for nine months, breastfeed on demand for years, feed them healthy foods only to purchase poison for them to inhale into their bodies? I am not naive; I know they will do dangerous and unhealthy things (I teach high school and as my kids approach the age of the kids I teach, I am scared! LOL), but I will not participate in those choices. I am also of the mindset that when parents keep making it harder for kids to rebel, as in not giving them any lines to push against, kids keep going farther and farther. Part of their nature is to want to push the line, stretch the limits, etc. The need something to bump up against before they fall off the cliff.
post #12 of 25
Knowing what we know today about cigarettes I think it's nothing less than child abuse.

Cowering in fear and catering to a child that's out of control isn't going to create change.
post #13 of 25
I wouldn't buy cigarettes for my child.

Honestly, I don't know how I'd handle it. My sister and I both started smoking really young (she was...8, I think, and I was 10). Whem mom found out, she stopped our allowance, based on the fact that she was not going to pay for our cigarettes (at that time, mom didn't smoke, but dad did, and so did all four of my grandparents). At least once, I managed to convince her that I'd quit, and got my allowance reinstated for a while.

I quit when I was 16. I started again a few months later, and smoked until I was about 19 or 20. Then, I smoked about 1-2 a week for a couple years. Then, I smoked only at concerts (so 5-6 cigarettes once or twice a year). When I had ds1, at 24, I'd completel quit. I started again, intermittently, while my first marriage was coming apart. I haven't had a cigarette in over 10 years. I don't miss them at all. Oddly, it was never that hard for me to quit, but it was also easy to start again.

I don't know what that has to do with anything, but that's my personal history with smoking. I have no idea if I'd have quit sooner, or smoked longer, if mom had been easier about it, or harder-assed about it, or what. There were a lot of other things going on in my life and in our family, so...

I do know that my sister had a major heart attack (or "cardiac event" of some kind) some time in the last few years. She had major open heart surgery - multiple bypasses, plus a valve replacement and a valve repair - on Dec. 30th (went into the hospital on her 40th birthday - surgery was two weeks later). She got out on January 9th. She's still smoking. I'm not sure there's a lot anybody can do once someone starts, yk?
post #14 of 25
Originally Posted by Porcelain Interior View Post
Knowing what we know today about cigarettes I think it's nothing less than child abuse.
Same here! My dad died at age 39 from a second heart attack - brought on by a variety of bad choices, one of which was cigarettes. A terrible habit that is HARD to quit. NO WAY would I buy my kid any, ever.
post #15 of 25
No one on my mom's side of the family has ever had cancer.

OH WAIT. Except for my maternal grandfather and HIS father (my great grandfather). My grandfather had a horrid slow painful death from small cell lung cancer that spread to his brain. My great grandfather died of what they thought were heart troubles but when they opened him up there was cancer in his chest eating him from the inside out. Both had smoked since about the age of 12...they were the only smokers in the family, as well as the only cancer victims.

One my Dad's side, there was only one person, my great aunt, who smoked, and she was fine...er...wait...nope she actually died of lung cancer too. Oops. Surely it must be coincidence.

Anyway, I have NO IDEA what I would do if my child was already smoking, but I surely would never buy the things for him. I NEVER would have smoked, mostly because my entire family had the attitude that smoking was just totally disgusting. I would not have been a "rebel" by smoking...I would have been pathetic and gross. I realise that smokers are people, and my grandfather was an awesome human being who was actually a chemist, so by no means stupid, but I think being raised by people who looked at smoking in the same way most people would look at eating dog poo helped me to never buy into the notion that cigs were "cool". I literally am still sickened by them.
post #16 of 25
No I would never buy my daughter cigarettes. Although I would buy her alcohol depending on the circumstance if she wanted to have a little. (Would not buy it for her friends or promote binge drinking, but if she wants a bit at family parties or when I knew there was no way she would be driving I would feel comfortable with it.)

As for smoking- I have worked hard to show and tell her all of the horrible health and hygiene effects (big and small) that smoking can cause since she was a toddler, and I think/hope I am really making an impact on her!

My mom allowed me to smoke in the house at about 14 years old, and I was smoking well before that out of the house. When she initially found out she made me smoke an entire pack in one sitting- it did nothing for me. Didn't get sick and didn't quit. And yep, she is a smoker still...I believe 2 packs per day!
post #17 of 25
Originally Posted by Kreeblim View Post
I NEVER would have smoked, mostly because my entire family had the attitude that smoking was just totally disgusting. I would not have been a "rebel" by smoking...I would have been pathetic and gross. I realise that smokers are people, and my grandfather was an awesome human being who was actually a chemist, so by no means stupid, but I think being raised by people who looked at smoking in the same way most people would look at eating dog poo helped me to never buy into the notion that cigs were "cool".
As someone who used to smoke, I have never figured out why people bring up the "I never thought it was cool" thing. I never thought it was "cool", either. As far as I could tell by being friends with them, most of my smoking friends lacked a "smoking is cool" mindset, as well. Growing up, I thought smoking was disgusting (yes - even with both parents and four grandparents being smokers). It stank. It left stains on everything, including fingers. Ashtrays were just gross. I still started. And, you know - every teenage smoker I knew both before and after they became a smoker was the same way - always swore they'd never smoke, thought it was gross, begged their parents to quit (if applicable)...and then started smoking.
post #18 of 25
My next door neighbor's 16 year old son smokes and the parents encourage it, even though neither of them smokes. They call it 'free expression'. He's been smoking since he was 13, and I can only imagine what his lungs look like now. He's already developed the dreaded 'hacker's cough' and, according to his mom, is a pack-a-day-smoker. Although they don't go out and purchase the cigarettes, they provide him with an allowance which he uses to pay for them.

My 13-year old doesn't smoke and hopefully never will. I use the neighbor's son as an example of the consequences of 'poor parenting'. While we don't always get it right as parents, we must make hard decisions that sometimes conflict with 'free expression'.
post #19 of 25
I think they are idiots.

I wouldn't condone it, or enable it in anybody of any age. It's WELL known that if you smoke, and you don't die from a car accident, or some other unfortunate incident, that you WILL die from smoking. Then everybody else has to suffer along with you, because it's never a inexpensive quiet peaceful death. It's long, painful, costly, ugly, and everybody involved has to suffer too.

Anybody who started smoking after 1985 is an idiot. Anybody who condones it for their children is a bigger idiot.
post #20 of 25
I would not buy cigarettes for anyone.
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